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Sociocracy – circles, rounds and consent | Feb. 21

Lynn Englund, local Sociocracy trainer, presents on Thurs., Feb.  21, 2019 the three foundational tools that are part of this common governance system that’s used in some self-managed cohousing communities.

These tools are: rounds, circles and the practice of consent in small group decision-making.

Informal networking will happen during the potluck that precedes the program.

Registration is open now. Optional potluck at 6 pm, program at 6:45 pm.

“I would love meetings if they didn’t have people…”

Does your group have lofty ambitions but struggle with making and following through on decisions? Learn the basics of Sociocracy, a system that distributes authority and helps groups to optimize their meeting time. This form of decision-making and governance allows all voices to be heard.

  • Doors open 5:30 pm
  • Potluck 6:00 pm
  • Program at 6:45 pm  

Location: Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 Cedar Lake Road, Minneapolis

Presenter: Lynn Englund is an educator and trainer in the areas of group process and governance.

Resource links:

  • – prolific author & cohousing resident Sharon Villines’ blog about improving democratic processes
  • – nonprofit offering Sociocracy training & resources

Register now at (Events page)

Contact TCCN at

This is the quarterly program meeting of Twin Cities Cohousing Network (TCCN), a nonprofit organization that educates about cohousing and provides related networking opportunities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Nov 15 – Cohousing: from dreams to reality…a Madison, WI experience

Sometimes core groups form, but then disband. What distinguishes the groups that make cohousing happen? Here’s one example of a group that is now all moved in. How did they do it? Hear their stories, and bring your questions.

Details and registration.

Let’s give a warm Minnesota welcome to our three guests from Arboretum Cohousing in Madison who will be driving up to talk with all of us on Thurs., Nov. 15, 2018.

Guest panelists:
Janet Murphy, Janet Kelly, and Karen Ecklund
all from  Arboretum Cohousing in Madison, WI

Thurs., Nov. 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm. Register now.

This is the last in the 2018 series of Twin Cities Cohousing Network’s quarterly presentations. (There is an optional potluck  reception at 5:30 pm–if attending the potluck supper, please bring a dish to share.)

Program registration starts at 6:30 pm
Program begins at 7:00 pm
Cost for the program: $8.00

Register here .

Program location:

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church
420 Cedar Lake Rd

Sign up for the TCCN e-newsletter, and learn of future events. Or, reach us via email at twincities [at] cohousing [dot] org.

September program meeting: Raising Children in Cohousing

Save the date, and plan now to attend our quarterly program meeting on September 20. Our guest panelists will be two parents from Monterey Cohousing. The topic is Raising Children in Cohousing.

As the adage says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” How does that work and what does it feel like when the village includes other parents, kids and the bigger circle of a cohousing community? This session can help you decide if you might prefer a multi-generational cohousing community, or one that is limited in some way.

Join us for this TCCN quarterly presentation and potluck on Thurs., Sept. 20, 2018 at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 S Cedar Lake Rd, Minneapolis.

Mingle at 5:30 pm, dinner at 6:00 pm. Cost: $8.00.

All are welcome!

Register now.

See you there!

Monterey Cohousing is a cooperative cohousing community in St. Louis Park, MN.

May 10 potluck info meeting: Building Community in Different Ways

Register now for the May 10th cohousing info meeting & potluck.

Join us Thurs., May 10, 2018 for “Building Community in Different Ways,” as we explore ways people can live together as a harmonious group. We are featuring a panel of three speakers: John Kalmon, a local architect versed in cohousing; Lindsey Flicker, outreach representative for Camphill Village MN; and Tom Pierson, independent cooperatives consultant who is on several co-op boards and will speak about cooperative living. Cost is $8.00. Bring a dish to share and enjoy a potluck meal.

So that organizers can set up the room appropriately, please register and pay at this link. A limited number of registrations will be taken at the door. Join us for an informative evening, good food and camaraderie.

*NEW* Location: Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 S Cedar Lake Rd, Minneapolis.

Schedule for the evening:

  • 5:30 pm – doors open
  • 6:00-6:45 pm – meal
  • 6:45-8:30 pm – panel discussion
  • 8:30-9:00 pm – clean-up

Register now.

See you there!

church building with lawn and trees
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church – plenty of free on-street parking

Potluck + Intro to Cohousing Info Session – March 8th

Register now to attend the next quarterly potluck info session.

group of people standing holding beverages
Join us on March 8th to learn about cohousing

Welcome! The next potluck information session about cohousing is Thurs., March 8, 2018. Join us to find out about the cohousing concept, ask questions, and meet other people who are also exploring this neighborly housing option.

Doors open 5:30 pm, meal starts at 6 pm. Please bring a dish to pass.

Your pre-registration is appreciated, and helps us to plan.

NEW LOCATION! Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 Cedar Lake Rd S, Minneapolis. Free on-street parking in the vicinity of the church.

church building with lawn and trees
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church

Register now for annual meeting at Gandhi Mahal – Tu Feb 20 at 5:30pm

Ken Fox, a member and resident of Monterey Cohousing, is the featured speaker.

Join us at Gandhi Mahal restaurant for this special gathering of Twin Cities Cohousing Network on Tues., Feb. 20, 2018 starting at 5:30 pm.

Our speaker for this year’s annual meeting is Ken Fox, a long-time member of Monterey Cohousing Community in St Louis Park.

Ken Fox standing in a snowy yard with Monterey Cohousing's main building behind him
Ken Fox from Monterey Cohousing

Come for conversation, good food, and a chance to learn more about this human-centric housing form. A vegetarian and a chicken dinner option will be available.

Please register now at this link. We look forward to seeing you!

Gandhi Mahal was voted the Best Indian Restaurant 2017 by MPLS/St Paul Magazine.

Passive House and Net-Zero Energy: guest presentation Nov 9

Architect Mark Carsten Anderson will bring us up to speed on the basics of Passive House and Net-Zero Energy high-efficiency energy standards for buildings, and why we might care. Q&A with a builder he’s worked with afterward.

Enjoy a potluck supper with others starting at 6 pm. Please register and pay in advance so that we can arrange the space appropriately.

TCCN members $8/non-members $10. Also, deals for families.

If you’d like to help set up for the event, show up around 5:30 pm. Or  if you can, plan to stay and help clean up at the end. Pitching in to help is a good way to get to know others who also are exploring cohousing.


Book review of “Tribe”, a deep dive into the foundations of our pull toward community

Tribe: a book on homecoming and belonging
by Sebastian Junger

When I went to the National Cohousing Conference, held in Nashville in May, I kept hearing the book Tribe being referenced. Now that I have read it, I understand why. There is a reason we and others are so drawn to cohousing. Without ever mentioning cohousing, Junger explains why the idea of community is so central to all human beings. And community is what cohousing, at its core, is all about.

To quote the book, “Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to Indians, but Indians almost never did the same.” Why? One of the things that was tempting about native life to white settlers, Junger notes, was its “egalitarianism.” That he says, is built into our genetic structure because “genetic adaptations take around 25,000 years to appear in humans” and we have not lost our egalitarian instinct that hunter gatherers needed to survive 5,000-10,000 years ago. These hunting groups likely formed coalitions to counter any male that tried to be dominant, the book says, because it would have been counterproductive to the group. Our current society is based on selfishness and status, while the hunting groups were based on sharing and cooperation.

I would guess many of us have struggled with authority. This may be part of our genetic make up, and it is possible that a part of us recognizes that as authority goes up, community goes down. Mainstream society stresses individualism over community. Junger quotes anthropologist Richard Boehm’s 2007 study of present day hunter-gatherer societies. Boehm notes that, “The human conscience evolved in the middle to late Pleistocene as a result of hunting large game. This required cooperative, band-level sharing of meat.”

We evolved as a communal species, and when that sense of community dwindles, we can lose a part of ourselves that wants more than individual status and material wealth. The book is full of examples of that sense of community, its fulfillment and its purpose happening in ways and places we would not normally guess to be possible. One of those is the current U.S. combat veterans ironically being happier during combat than they were upon coming home, likely because of–the book says–their loss of closeness and the breaking of intimate bonds that combat life gave them. This may explain some their subsequent PTSD upon their return.  

Another example comes from the time of the bombing of London by the Nazis during WWII. Experts had predicted that up to 4 million people would have a psychiatric breakdown in England.  But “as the Blitz progressed, psychiatric hospitals around the country saw admissions go down,”the book notes. “Even epileptics reported having fewer seizures.”

Why did this happen? “When people are actively engaged in a cause their lives have more purpose…. with a resulting improvement in mental health,” H. A. Lyons wrote in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research in 1979.

I think the reason the book Tribe was referenced so often at the National Cohousing Conference was because people there believe that the cohousing model puts us back into a situation that we are very suited to. Cohousing creates a structure that is egalitarian, not based on authority, and similar to what hunter gatherers practiced. It puts us in a setting that allows for the privacy of one’s own home, but subtly and continually routes us past the common house where we can encounter others in a nonthreatening way.  And since these people, like us, “are actively engaged in a cause, their lives have more purpose, and there is a resulting improvement in mental health.” The cause that people are actively engaged in is cohousing itself. That cause is the common good of keeping the cohousing group viable, functioning, and sustainable. That cause that becomes a purpose, is realizing that what I do impacts my neighbor, and that we are all in this together. This is probably why, studies show, that people in cohousing live longer and volunteer in the larger community more than people outside of cohousing. We are meant to be in community, and we do better when we do.

–Brian PaStarr, TCCN board member

Energy Fair information table

Cohousing info table at the MREA Energy Fair in September.

Hundreds of Energy Fair – St Paul attendees stopped by to learn about cohousing and pick up our tiny eco-friendly flyer. This was TCCN’s first outdoor information table, which we shared with Bassett Creek Cohousing. Thank goodness, on those hot and sunny days, that we had a dining canopy for shade (many thanks for the loan, Paul Wehrwein) and some rocks to keep paper items from blowing away. If we look tousled, yes, it was windy. Thanks to TCCN friends for coming by to say hello. And a big heap of appreciation for Fred Olson for his creative troubleshooting and help with the booth set-up.

Kathy, Becca and Brian staffed an information table at the MREA Energy Fair at Harriet Island Regional Park on Sept. 9-10, 2017.

A visit to a recently completed cohousing community

Through photos, Becca gives us a sense of the building–its exterior and interior spaces–at Portland’s PDX Commons cohousing.

Photo Essay of a Visit to PDX Commons (Portland, OR)

By Becca Brackett

In July, I got a chance to visit PDX Commons, a mixed-use senior cohousing community. Lew Bowers, a member there, gave me a tour about five days before their move-in day.

I was especially interested in PDX Commons because their site is quite small: half an acre. How did they fit it all in? The Bassett Creek core group anticipates a similar tight fit in an urban location.

Here is a view from across the road. Food carts used to be in business on their lot. Now, those have moved to a parking lot across the street.

Here, Lew is in front of the gate leading to a sidewalk on the west side of the building. It can be locked for security.

Aaron, the construction manager for Abbott Construction, stands in a retail space on the ground/sidewalk level. They do not have a tenant yet, but there are other small shops nearby as well as the food trucks.

Here is the parking. One can drive in off Belmont Street. Note that the “open” window actually has a metal security lattice. Unlike some areas, Portland did not require one car parking space per unit.

Portland did, however, require bicycle parking. Here I am in the bike area. Also, each unit has a cage of general storage, here shown above the bikes; additional storage units may be in another area.

The main entrance for PDX Commons is to the right of the garage door and to the left of the retail. It brings you into a “living room” of common space. Lew is standing under the skylight in the center, and beyond to the right is a fireplace.  They plan to make this inviting with couches, bookshelves, etc. The stairs (and elevators, not shown in my photo) lead up one level to the patio and the dining and kitchen areas.

At the far end of the living room is a door to a small amount of outdoor space, the use of which is as yet undetermined; because this area is possibly a future hot tub location, another door goes through to a restroom/changing room.

Lew took me up the elevator to the second floor patio. All the units look out onto this patio. This shows the rooftop patio looking towards the street. A table is spread for their opening celebration.

The walkways, with wooden railings going in front of the units, serve as corridors to get to one’s unit and social space. Two bump outs on the fourth level will be conversation areas.

The design with the common patio on top of the lower level gives a very connected outdoor space to the residents.  At the same time, it is a very private space, not visible to people going by on the street, or even to their neighbors out the back.

Here, we are looking toward the dining room with big sliding glass doors.

Going into the dining room and straight on into the kitchen, I am opening the oven in their kitchen.

Lew on a walkway–you can see a bump-out of the walkway on the top level for a conversation area.

This photo shows the width of the walkways.

I got a view looking west towards Downtown Portland, which shows the solar panels, and how the end unit on the “arms” of the building are wider. Where the wooden framework ends and the siding of the unit begins, those are the big units.

On the other arm of the building, see how the dining and kitchen area are attached. PDX considered a green roof, but ended up not doing it. However, all their drainage water goes into planters on the back perimeter of the property. Conforming to federal water-quality protection standards for runoff, Portland building code says you have to contain your drainage.

I left energized with the possibilities for the Bassett Creek location in Minneapolis!

Becca Brackett is a board member of Twin Cities Cohousing Network and a member of the Bassett Creek Cohousing Core Group.