Co-housing open house in Bristol

Published: Oct. 15, 2017 at 6:55 PM EDT
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"It's kind of bringing us back to the way that it used to be," said Jim Mendell.

Mendell and his wife, Peg Kamens, have thought about co-housing for years. Bristol seemed to be the perfect spot to make their dream into a reality.

"Bristol has a community feeling already, so we're a village within a village," he said.

Co-housing is where a community of people share a common space. In Bristol, energy-efficient homes were built around three older, and later remodeled properties on North Street. People from all over the state, and beyond, found their new homes there.

Maura Donnelly, her mother, and her son Simon moved from Brooklyn, New York.

"If you just walk out your door, you have neighbors who know you and want to interact with you and you also have the privacy of your own house, so it's a really wonderful mix that way," she said.

Ann Crocker and her partner moved from Monkton to downsize and to not be solely responsible for more than 20 acres of land.

"I'm, more than anything, delighted to be developing this new community together," Crocker said. "It's not, 'Oh, we're getting old, we have to move to town.' It's, 'There’s a brand new adventure ahead.'"

Co-housing started in the 1960s in Denmark. Mendell said there are more co-housing communities per capita in Vermont than anywhere in the country.

"We have all these people that have all these skills, and we can share our skills like just even help you when you need help," he said.

Along with sharing each other’s skills, they'll share storage areas and a garden. The common house is where they host a weekly group dinner. They will also discuss shoveling in the winter, and make decisions about their space as a small community.

"We're walking distance from everything, it's a very walkable community, so the grocery store, the drug store, restaurants, the gym, the library-- they're all a short walk away," Kamens said.