Skagit Cohousing: Thriving Kids, Happy Parents
“Kids thrive in community,” Karen Gimnig says.
She should know. Gimnig’s teens grew up in a cohousing community outside Atlanta and now she’s part of a group building Skagit Cohousing in Anacortes.
“We’ve all heard ‘it takes a village,’” she says. “I didn’t really understand what that meant until I had one. Before we found cohousing, my kids’ village was spread all over town.”
Since moving to cohousing the Gimnig kids have had playmates right outside and surrogate grandparents across the way. They’ve earned their pocket money walking community dogs and learned skills and history from older neighbors.
More than a dozen families are working to bring the same opportunity to kids in Skagit County. They plan a community of approximately 30 homes, gardens, play areas and a common house where shared meals and social events will be designed to bring neighbors together. In this environment children will have safe areas to play and roam—away from cars and near the many adults who will help care for them.
Over recent decades members of cohousing communities across the country have watched their children grow into leaders. Their frequent interaction with people of all ages breeds confidence and strong communication skills. As they play safely out of earshot of parents, they learn to solve their own problems, collaborate with other children and share the common resources of the community.
The consensus model used in cohousing teaches children a rich form of democracy in which people listen to one another and seek solutions that work for all.
Architect Grace Kim is raising her own daughter in cohousing in Seattle. “Cohousing is the antidote to isolation,” Kim says. In a world where connection can be hard to find and research shows how much our health is harmed by loneliness, Kim claims “cohousing can save your life.”
Senior Frank Lacey is excited to play with his young neighbors. He and wife Jerry Hallberg do not have children of their own and are counting on cohousing to surround them with surrogate grandchildren. Jerry envisions encountering children on Big Wheels zooming along walkways.
“I love holding babies,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to lasting relationships as those babies grow. I expect to help them with school projects and dry some tears from time to time. Hiking, which is a passion of ours, is also a great activity to do with kids.”
The group is finalizing building plans and expects to occupy their new homes in 2021, but now is the time to find out more reserve your place. With a lot of interest in this great concept, it will be the early birds who are the first kids to call Skagit Cohousing home.
The soon-to-be neighbors spend a lot of time together already. Attend a monthly “Coffee and Conversation” information session Feb. 16 at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op with members, or get acquainted with the group at a March 9 hike starting at 1pm in the Anacortes Forest Lands—which will be followed by a tour at the nearby building site. Bring your family to hike, bike or eat ice cream with this dynamic group, and find out what makes for thriving kids and happy parents.
WHAT: Skagit Cohousing Hike and Tour
WHEN: 1pm Sat., March 9
WHERE: Anacortes Forest Lands, A Ave.