The cooperative is a resident-owned housing model that has been successful since the first housing cooperative in the late 1800s (NAHC, 2007). In a cooperative, residents own shares (their apartments) and a corporation (a nonprofit or for-profit organization formed by the resident-owners) owns the apartment building. Together the the resident-owners and corporation make operating decisions about their community.

Below is a quick comparison chart that compares cooperative ownership against renting, single family home ownership, and condo ownership

Types Cooperative Rental Single Family Condominium
Ownership The residents are shareholders in a corporation that owns the property. Owning a share entitles you to occupy a unit. Tenants own nothing. On expiration of lease, tenants may be forced to vacate. Owners acquire individual title to their dwellings and yard. Unit “airspace” owned by individual, plus an undivided share of common elements.
Monthly Cost Members pay the Co-op for their share of the actual operating cost, building mortgage, and real estate taxes, based on the non-profit operation of entire community. Tenants pay rent specified in lease. Owner must make his or her purchases of whatever is needed, often at higher retail costs. Owner makes mortgage and tax payments to lender. Same as cooperative, except mortgage payments and taxes are paid directly to the lender.
Move-in Cost New members buy their share in the cooperative and also pay the first monthly charge in advance. Usually one month’s rent is paid as a security deposit, plus the first month’s rent. Purchaser must buy the property, usually with a mortgage with a down payment of at least 5% and closing costs of 3% or more. Same as single family, plus first month’s condo fee and often a “contribution to capital” of 1-2 months’ fee.
Community Control Co-op resident members elect their board of directors, which decides all policy matters. The Board usually sets up several committees to help run the community. Renters usually have no voice at all in establishing and maintaining community standards. Individual owners have no jurisdiction over their neighbors. Condo owners, like cooperatives, elect a board of directors.
Community Service Co-ops provide a natural base for service and activity desired by its members. Provided at discretion of landlords. On your own. Condos similar to co-ops, unless limited by state law.
Federal Tax Benefits to Individuals Your share of mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible on personal income tax return. No benefit. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible on personal income tax return. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible on personal income tax return.

chart: NAHC


National Association of Housing Cooperatives, http://www.coophousing.org/about_nahc.shtml




Intentional Community (IC) is a way of sharing housing and resources with people who share similar values. The IC model presents a significant opportunity to reduce living costs and pollution intake and output. For these two reasons alone, IC should be one of the most attractive living models for communities of color, which generally experience poverty and environmental injustice in greater numbers than European-Americans (Heiman, 1996) .

But because of some of the preconceived ideas about IC, and because of the traditional values held by many people of color, many intentional communities have a difficult time attracting and retaining people of color.

This Ain’t Your Momma’s Hippie Commune

One of the commonly held preconceived notions about IC in traditional communities of color is that intentional community is just a dressed-up, 21st century concept for old-style, 1960s-era hippie communes where white folks with long-hair do recreational drugs and refuse to bathe. Because of the global dispersion of intentional communities, there are a wide range of communites reflecting a variety of living styles including IC communities with all the amenities of urban living such as high-speed internet, e-mail, public transportation, and cable television. Continue Reading »


  • Connect with CL contacts from week 2
  • Write a new CL ad and post in a new category (categories previously used include Artists and Groups)
  • Join Flickr Groups
  • Post project description on Idealist.org
  • Find & join (free) local permaculture, sustainable living, intentional community groups
  • Post project description on Intentional Communities
  • Re-read Apex’s organizing history
  • V-market (through word-of-mouth) on WordPress, Blogger, Flickr, MySpace, etc. and find more viral marketing outlets

Continue Reading »

Once a week for the past two weeks SEV posted ads on Seattle Craig List to let people know about the project, and to either find likeminded people to get involved or to find an emerging community that SEV can merge with. Both weeks we got positive responses from people but on the first week the feedback seemed to indicate that people thought this project was already completed and all they need to do was move in.

The second week SEV clarified the ad to emphasize that SEV is a grassroots, emerging ecovillage. We got a promising result from another grassroots co-housing project, and SEV is in the process of communicating with them.

Permaculture is a word coined by Dr. Bill Mollison (an Australian scientist) and David Holmgren (an Australian ecologist) in 1974; it’s a portmanteau word formed from the words PERMAnent agriCULTURE. Permaculture uses nature’s patterns to intentionally design sustainable human habitats where community development, housing, technology, energy, and food production are logically integrated in a way that is mutually beneficial for the earth and its inhabitants.

The permaculture movement is a lifestyle ethic utilized by people all around the world and it is most active in Australia, the United Kingdom, and in the United States.

For more information about permaculture, visit Seattle Permaculture Guild