Grace H. Kim is an internationally well-known expert in cohousing, which is the art and craft of creating communities. She gives a fascinating talk on TED on how to rethink your way of living in your home. Kim shares an age-old antidote to isolation, cohousing, which is the kind of living where people choose to share space with their neighbors, getting time to know them, and looking after them.
Everyone experiences loneliness at one point in their lives. For an architect Kim, loneliness is not about being alone, it’s a function of how socially connected people feel to those close to them especially people living with them. One could be surrounded by people yet they experience loneliness. She tells how loneliness can be as a result of the set up of our home environments.
There are people living in the neighborhoods where there is a false sense of connection and an increase in social isolation. Most of the people living in enclosed single-family homes don’t know anything about their neighbors. Social media also contributes to the false sense of connection. Many people are spending most of their time on their phones either texting or checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts and in the process isolating others.
Isolation is not a new concept, it’s an age-old way of living and it still exists in many non-European cultures across the world. Cohousing community is an intentional neighborhood where people know each other and looks after one another. In this setup, you have your own home, but you share essential spaces, both indoors and outside. Grace Kim lives in a cohousing neighborhood where there are more social interactions among the people that she herself designed using her own architecture.
Cohousing starts with a shared intention to live collaboratively. Cohousing is achieved by supporting activities that bring togetherness such as eating together, kids playing in the neighborhood, being responsible for other people’s concerns and much more. Having common spaces also elevate the sense of community life in the neighborhood. Cohousing is an antidote to isolation and could save lives.