As we have mentioned previously, a few of these cohousing folks can be a bit prickly.
When we began developing our ideas for a shared home some years ago, none of us had heard of the Danish architect Jan Gudmand-Hoyer and the concept he called “community housing” — a cluster of single family homes built around some common facilities and operating in a cooperative manner.
Some years later the American architect Charles Durrett brought the community housing concept to America and renamed it “cohousing.” We hadn’t heard of him either.
But at the beginning, trying only to name our own vision, we settled on “co-housing” as an accurate description of what we were planning. We would share a home. We would be, literally, co-housed.
Fast forward to this week, when the eminent Dr. Durrett and his charming and knowledgeable partner, Kathryn McCamant (Katie) visited Toronto to present a seminar. The afternoon before, they paid us a visit at Wine on the Porch, and we enjoyed a few minutes of sharing ideas.
One of the less enjoyable parts was Charles’s insistence that we shouldn’t be calling ourselves cohousing. He was rather proprietary about it.
We thought perhaps we could just agree to disagree, but Charles has followed up with a sort of cease and desist order. He writes:
Great to meet you good people. Just want to request that you don’t use the word
co-housing. By definition it is not. It is shared housing or Coliving or Cohousing inspired maybe. It’s about truth in advertising and more clarity. So as the person that coined the word I’d really appreciate it. Thank you, Charles Durrett.
As a sometime journalist, editor, and occasionally prickly person myself, I’m tempted to point out that Jan Gudman-Hoyer described his model accurately when he called it “community housing,” or “cooperative housing,” and it’s not my fault if Dr. Durrett got the name wrong when he imported Gudman-Hoyer’s ideas.
But that would be churlish.
So I’m gonna ask for a ruling from the people. Vote on whether we should keep co-housing or not.