At a recent Richmond Cohousing event, I found myself in the kitchen with another member acknowledging our discomfort with the large number of people assembled. We joked about staying busy in the kitchen together, then ventured out among the crowd. This was not the first time I’d met a fellow cohousing member in the kitchen regrouping, recharging, and voicing social anxiety. I was surprised to find that studies of cohousing communities show that individuals in these intentional, people-filled neighborhoods actually tend to share the personality aspect of introversion.
I am an introvert. I process things internally and rarely think about making plans for social activities. I love talking with people, especially one on one, but then I need time to be alone and recharge. Most of my introverted life I have lived with other people – my family of origin, group houses, intentional communities, partners and children, visiting friends. Despite my need for alone time, I have come to the conclusion that living with others is essential to my happiness. It brings me joy to prepare meals and eat together, chat as we come and go in our lives, participate in household chores, share stories, laugh, and care about each other. Living with others draws me out of my internal dialogue and into the present.
I joined Richmond Cohousing to ensure that my future will include both abundant connections to others, and private space to recharge. One of the fundamental principles of cohousing design is to include ample spaces for spontaneous interaction between neighbors along pedestrian walkways, gardens, and in the common house, but also to have private spaces where someone can be alone.
In addition, cohousing communities consciously plan social activities – something I am reluctant to do on my own. The Richmond Cohousing vision statement includes: “We are committed to creating a supportive and enriching community that fosters connection with each other and the larger community. We will embrace opportunities to work and play together. We will host regular common meals, community celebrations and social gatherings. We will support each other through life’s challenges and joys and will work together to care for our land and shared facilities.”
My life is already enriched by working with others to create Richmond Cohousing. The appeal of living in cohousing goes beyond my desire to share resources and live more sustainably. Cohousing is a simple and elegant way for me to have an active social life and meaningful relationships.
Kathryn generously hosts many Richmond Cohousing events at her home. You’ll meet her, and plenty of other introverts (and extroverts, too!), at our events. Be sure to check the kitchen!