Designing Your Well-Lived Future

Ready for Something Other Than Suburbia? 

“I’m tired of living alone.”

“We just would like to live together and share a house. We’re not lovers; we need two master suites.

“I’m fine by myself with breakfast and lunch. At 4:30 though, I need community.”

These are a few of the comments of exasperation from singles we’ve heard over the years. For many, the single-family suburban lifestyle just isn’t working. If you can relate and are ready to help create other options, join in to re-envision your lifestyle!

I keep strategizing and periodically hosting planning/design sessions aimed at discovering floor plans, shared amenities and cluster possibilities where residents get more for less, along with good design. I usually hold the workshop in Santa Fe at the Commons on West Alameda. We start with a tour of the grounds and a bit of conversation about their shared amenities, and then spend the rest of the time developing your ideas of alternatives to current suburban choices.

Child Friendly Clusters; Parents looking for a more connected community.

In addition to shared housing arrangements and creative floor plans, the opportunity, as the Commons so amply demonstrates, is in finding mutually beneficial, convenient strategies that include your neighbors. At a “Designing Sustainable Neighborhoods Workshop” we gave in Austin, a single mom dared to dream the seemingly impossible. “While the kids are playing in nature at the other end of the commons area, I could be having an adult conversation while dinner was being prepared!” It was as if she was reporting from the mountaintop of possible futures.

Recent Graduates

Maybe you’re about to graduate and the job market has got you nervous. How about a really affordable single room occupancy in a neighborhood with a “business incubator” and lots of life going on?! Kind of like moving back home, with a conveniently located washer/dryer.  But you’re on your own in a creative, innovative support system.

Aging in Place in a Great Neighborhood

According to numerous surveys, the vast majority of folks would like to stay in their homes as they “approach maturity.” Even though the familiarity of the suburbs is comforting, some find the isolation and the lack of conveniently located, walkable shopping, friends and nature a real downside to their familiar surroundings.

Here are a few quotes about life at the Commons, a 28-unit clustered housing community designed to address the richness of living in community. (See Commons Vignettes, or 144 Reasons to live in Community )

  • Access twice a week to the best culinary bargain in Santa Fe: for between $4 and $7, I get an all-organic meal and the chance to chat with my up-to-the-minute neighbors
  • Swings for my visiting granddaughter at each placita
  • I go to the movies in the Common House without renting one or using my car
  • Celebrating birthdays each month when the birthday people can tell two truths and a lie and we can guess which is which
  • Can put my friends up in the guest rooms; convenient as my house is small
  • Feeling a sense of safety and security that comes from knowing that the neighbors will help in time of need
  • The pleasure that comes from knowing that I can be of help

These are some of the benefits Commons residents identify in their well-designed community. If these or similar values speak to you, join us in designing something like this that inspires you. email or call me or sign up for the newsletter and I’ll let you know when the next workshop is scheduled. 

What We Will Explore at the “Designing Your Well-Lived Future” Workshop?

How do we get more of these kinds of qualities into our lives?

Can we transform our neighborhoods? Do we form co-housing groups and find infill lots?

Do we buy the house behind, take down the fence and create a micro-cohousing?

I’m inviting several architects and designers to come to this brainstorming workshop as well. They’ll be a resource so we can start to turn our visions into real, great places.

Bring your concerns and ideas. How do we create privacy and sanctuary in a higher density setting? What are the some of the benefits of creating shared utilities, compost piles, chicken coops, greenhouses and gardens? What are you willing to share? How will the insurance be handled?

RSVP so we can properly prepare! Have a schedule conflict? Contact us for future design sessions.  Together we can make vibrant, alive, sustainable neighborhoods real!

Comments 1

  1. We owe our lives and our future to the sustainability to the only world ( mother) we have, we should be doing all we can halt climate change and reverse it. The idea of Community (living together) would be a step forward for both eco and community concerns. The problem can be solved , maybe not by “leaps” but with one step in the right direction… A journey of ten thousand steps starts with ONE. Vote with your feet ! Jamie

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