June 2023

Communication within Cohousing Communities

How do you communicate within your community? From informal conversations with cohousers, we’ve heard about communities that do everything from notes on a bulletin board to email lists to using technology like WhatsApp or Slack to talk.

As with any group, cohousing communities have a variety of things that they need to communicate about and we have members with different comfort levels with technology and constant ‘notifications’. So, while some may happily group text, many don’t want to be included in communication strategies that require them to be frequently checking their devices.

And, of course, cohousers aren’t the only groups trying to solve the problem of how neighbors can easily communicate. Facilitating communication (and community!) within neighborhoods can be a difficult endeavor! You may be familiar with apps or websites like NextDoor that allow people within a neighbourhood to post about events and announcements. (Although there have been criticisms that NextDoor can create a toxic neighborhood environment).

Facebook also offers solutions to this problem. Different kinds of facebook groups can help neighbours communicate. Recently, groups such as the hyper-local “Buy Nothing” communities on Facebook have increased in popularity. If you’re not familiar, Buy Nothing groups are very small neighbourhood groups where people can post about items that they’d like to give away, lend, or share within their community. These Buy Nothing groups help neighbors make connections and (hopefully) cut down on waste. They can be an amazing resource; my own cohousing community has given away things like unwanted plants, piles and piles of kids clothing, and old gardening equipment. We’ve received things as diverse as furniture for common spaces, a deep-fryer (which has added some awesome things to our common meals!), and restaurant-sized cans of apple sauce and boxes of chocolate chips. But not everyone wants to be on social media.

While cohousing means that members of our community all know each other, this doesn’t offer us magical powers of communication. We still need a means to let other community members know about news, events, and announcements. Some communication is not particularly time-sensitive and email works well.

But what about more time-sensitive announcements? In my own community, I can think of various topics that people want the whole community to know about as soon as possible: questions about locating a kid or pet that went wandering; asks for urgent help with an issue in the house; or offers of food that you want everyone to know is available. My community uses an app called Slack, which is a kind of instant messaging platform.

But what does your community do? CCN would love to hear about the fun and fantastic ways that different cohousers have solved this issue and done more to create vibrant communities.

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