Between the pandemic and winter coming on, it’s easy to find oneself feeling like one of the last remaining humans in Wall-E: living in an artificial space liner, riding around on a hover couch, and consuming all our calories through a straw.
Since when did going outside become a chore? What can cohousing do to help?
Even here in Bozeman, Montana, arguably the capital of extreme outdoor sports in the Northern Rockies, it seems like there are always plenty of excuses: “I’m tired — I don’t want to drive somewhere — I have to cook dinner.” And those excuses multiply for our children: “It’s too cold — my friends aren’t around — there’s no wifi — you’re not safe by yourself — there’s too much traffic.”
This litany is, according to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, a sure sign of a classic case of “Nature Deficit Disorder.” Our sense of emotional well-being and physical health suffer when we don’t spend enough time outside in an environment with other growing, living things. And for many American kids living in typical housing developments, the obstacles are real: There is no easy safe way to get to a park; there are too many cars on the street; parents are over-extended juggling work and chores.
What if we could magically live somewhere built from the ground up to remove most of these hurdles? Imagine a neighborhood where there are no cars driving between houses; where just outside your back door there are gardens and animals to be tended and enjoyed; where friends to play with are just a few doors away. That’s the reality of the physical design of our Cohousing homes.
Further, imagine living in a genuine community where connection is baked in; where someone else will cook us dinner several nights a week; where a child knows they can turn to any adult for help. This is what we envision for the shape of our lives in Bozeman Cohousing.
And finally, picture a location where a wildlife-friendly creek runs near your home; where you can get on your bike and be in a network of trails without crossing a single street. These are the blessings of the Bozeman Cohousing site.
Taken together, living in Cohousing means that just about the only excuse left for our kids when we tell them to go outside is “It’s too cold.” Then we can remind them that there is no bad weather, just bad preparation, so they should put on their coats.
For more on the proven benefits to kids (and grownups, actually) of spending more time outside, visit the Children and Nature Network.