These two books go so well together that I had to review them side by side. Cohousing, pocket neighborhoods, they both have the same goals: creating connections between people, a sense of community, a wiser use of resources, and a smarter way to develop. Pocket Neighborhoods, offers practical ideas and a good background in what constitutes a pocket neighborhood and some historical background on the movement, but its real strength lies in its ability to stir the heart and fill it with hope. I LOVE thumbing through the pages and thinking, "Yes! This is already a reality somewhere, I can make it a reality for our family some day too!!" The closing line in Creating Cohousing reads, "We hope the future will see more and more folks getting together and asking themselves, 'Are we ready to figure out how to best live our lives in a way that allows us to experience life at its full potential- and leave nothing on the table?' Too lofty? We think not. Achievable? Very!"When I latch onto an idea it's pretty hard to wrench it from my mental grasp. I'm sort of like a pit bull in that way:) I've totally sunk my teeth into this idea. The idea of a community where my kids can run freely, where they have meaningful relationships with a variety of trusted adults who can teach them and serve as role models, where safety is a by-product of relationships and watching out for each other, where the pace of life slows down to that of a leisurely conversation across a porch railing, a stroll to the community mail boxes, or a neighborhood dinner or work project. It's hard to be rushed or dismissive when you know all your neighbors on a first-name basis. I find that despite the thousands of people I cross paths with every day here in the city, that I can often go through an entire day without really connecting with anyone I don't actually live with. This is the idea behind cohousing and pocket neighborhoods, that we are social creatures and we are meant to connect with each other. This is why so many of us feel a deep down tugging, a longing for a stronger sense of community, and deeper connection with people around us.
If this daydream of mine sounds appealing to you too, these are the books for you! Use Pocket Neighborhoods to get your mind churning, to give some validity to those dreams. It's so important to nourish dreams so they don't fade away. I plan on referring to this book often, flipping through the glossy pages to rekindle my committment to these ideas. Creating Cohousing is where I'll turn for the nuts and bolts, to answer questions, to begin the planning process. It's also full of inspiring stories of successful neighborhoods. The last section of the books contains headings like "The Participatory Design Process," and "From Dream to Reality." This is where I'll turn when it's time to let this little dream of mine take shape and become something solid and real.
You know that story about the guy in solitary confinement who mentally practiced his golf swing a bazillion times every day for dozens of years, and then when he got out and actually hit a golf ball his swing really had improved? Well, I'm a firm believer in that whole idea of thoughts shaping reality. So, I consider all this planning, reading, and dreaming, "practicing my golf swing." Someday when we really are in a position to make something like this happen (oh, and it will happen, don't you worry!) the ideas will already be there, formed and ready to take shape.