Part 4: The Co-Housing Community
Looking ahead to when Looney Labs has its own office building in another city, eventually complete with the Looney Lounge on the side, where exactly would we live? Well, we have elaborate and complex dreams in that department as well. We want to build a Co-Housing Community!
Firstly, it must be understood that we hate commuting. We've done our share of unpleasant driving to a distant office, and after a few years of commuting instead just down a flight of stairs, we're finding it hard to adjust to an office just a few blocks away. In our perfect scenario, our home would be directly attached to the Looney Labs offices, either in the same building, or perhaps connected by sheltered walkways (or underground tunnels).
It stands to reason that others in the company might also wish to enjoy such a minimal commute. Therefore, as we include our own living quarters in the planning of the company's physical plant, it follows that we should also think in terms of offering similar options to others in the company, particularly given how close we are, as friends, to our fellow co-founders, and the fact that we'll be asking them to relocate along with us. More to the point, we've become enamored of the whole co-housing concept.
The case can be made that our 3-person household already constitute an extremely small co-housing community, but we want to build a bigger one. Not that we want it to become too big, either... some co-housing communities, like the EcoVillage in Ithaca, are quite large, encompassing dozens of families, but I see ours being more like the one Leah's brother set up, in Portland. They bought an old 7-unit apartment building and remodeled it into 6 condos and a large shared area with a big kitchen.
Whether we build ourselves into large building, a row of townhouses, or a cluster of single-family homes, our vision is the same: we want to join together with a small group of like-minded families, live very near each other, and share as many resources as reasonably possible while also maintaining our own separate households. Why do we have to wait until we're old to live in a community that has the benefits of a retirement center?
Another difference between a classic co-housing community and what we want to build is the role of Looney Labs, our corporate sponsor, so to speak. Whereas the members of a typical co-housing community still have regular jobs doing whatever, most of our residents will be company employees. We'd like to be able to offer rental apartments to our workers, with a cool place to live, right near work, as one of the perks of the job.
One of the coolest features of living in the community will be the company cafeteria. One of the most tedious chores in life is the constant need to figure out that next meal. Sometimes of course it's a joy to plan and prepare a nice meal, but most of the time we yearn for ease. It's always nice to find that someone else has food already prepared, even if you may have a taste for something else.
The company cafeteria will be a big empty room with a bunch of tables and chairs and such. As our company grows, we will need such a space all the more, as a gathering place for all-hands meetings and company parties, not to mention as an overflow space for really big events in the Tourney Center. But ours will be more than just a break room with a fridge and a microwave. The company cafeteria will be connected to a big kitchen (the same one which provides food service to the Looney Lounge) and will serve 2 meals on most days (at Noon and at 7 PM). The cost and work of running the kitchen will be paid for by the members of the community who want in on it, with such costs being payable either financially or by volunteer effort.
Members of our co-housing community will enjoy other shared amenities, too. Depending on how big it gets and what people want, it could include a laundry room, a videogame arcade, gardens, a gym, even a swimming pool!
In particular, the community will have access to a full-service
workshop and craft center. Kristin has this idea about creating
an Art Studio where kids (not so much from within our co-housing
group, but from anywhere in the neighborhood) could come take
art classes of various types.