Cohousing project seeks candidates for sustainable, community-focused living

An example of a cohousing community with communal house and central community garden, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of the Cohousing Association of the United States, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Promising to be the first of its kind in Southern Utah, St. George Cohousing has begun moving forward with plans to develop an intentional, sustainable community for all ages and is seeking interested parties. A potluck that will include more information will be held Saturday in St. George.

St. George Cohousing was established by Dale Joel. Even though the new potential community will be for members both young and old, Joel said his inspiration came from the resolve to find a better way of life after seeing how retirement and eventual placement in assisted living facilities did not lead to fulfilling end-of-life experiences for his relatives.

Dale Joel discusses cohousing with prospective candidates, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of St. George Cohousing, St. George News
Dale Joel discusses cohousing with prospective candidates, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of St. George Cohousing, St. George News

The cohousing concept originated in Denmark in the 1970s and involves bringing people closer by designing and constructing communities that facilitate and encourage shared experiences and interaction.

One such design includes a pedestrian-centered environment, with cars relegated to parking lots off to the side of the community in order to encourage both healthy living and to reinforce the shared space concept. There is typically also a communal house in which all members of the cohousing community come together to prepare and share meals on a regular – if not daily – basis.

Other features of cohousing include sustainable design and community gardens.

However, while many aspects of the community may be shared, the houses are reserved as private living spaces with a private backyard area.

Everyone gets the amount of privacy they need and the amount of public space that they need,” Joel said.

Joel, who spent over 30 years as a commercial real estate developer, said he is especially passionate about seeing the project to completion because he will live there as a part of the community.

However, the first step in building a successful cohousing community is establishing relationships among those who intend to live there.

In cohousing, the people and community drive the bullet,” Joel said.

Before any kind of real estate is purchased or blue prints are drawn up, a potential cohousing community will have already established relationships and friendships among the various families making up the community.

Once the bonds of a strong community are in place, plans for physical construction go forward by consensus.

This negates the need for overbearing homeowners associations and the like, Joel said.

You don’t need a bunch of rules and regulations when people sit down and work things out.”

The biggest difference between cohousing and other types of planned communities, Joel said, is a commitment to look out for and help each other when needed.

“I think the Mormon community here in St. George does that and that’s one of the cornerstones of the Mormon community.”

St. George Cohousing would implement that community aspect of Mormonism, Joel said, and take it one step further by incorporating physical proximity where community members speak and interact on a daily basis. The three main drivers of the project include sustainable living and building, developing a community for all ages and making an impact locally.

So far, several families who are not of the Mormon faith but are looking for that strong sense of community have taken interest in St. George Cohousing, Joel said, adding that typical candidates come from a Universalist or Unitarian religious background and are environmentally and civic minded.

At a recent intro event for the project, 19 prospective people got together to discuss the concept.

Sites for the project include four possible plots in the Santa Clara/Ivins area. The project calls for 25 units within a five- to seven-acre area.

Over 150 cohousing communities already exist throughout the country, including one in Utah.

St. George Cohousing is still seeking interested parties and will hold a potluck event with more information Saturday from 3-5 p.m. at 2255 Tuweap Drive #11, St. George. For more information or to RSVP, contact Dale Joel at 612-244-6460 or visit the Facebook event webpage.

Event details

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Christmas Bob November 28, 2016 at 11:40 am

    It is kinda funny. The idea actually kind of reminds me of a cult or a mormon polygamist-type setup. Let’s assign each community its own leader in the form of a wiseman or prophet. How long ’til they start taking multiple “wives”. Just a thought. too funny LOL

  • .... November 28, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Well there goes Bob and another one of his stupid conspiracy theories. what’s funny is he uses the word Christmas in his name and he’s still nothing but a hateful bigot !

    • NotSoFast November 29, 2016 at 7:20 am

      Leave stupid Bob alone. He just wants to be noticed. Invite him out to lunch or something. Don’t become a bigot yourself (no name)

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