Cohousing – The Ultimate Personal Growth Experience

By Kathryn Hazel

Cohousing guru Diana Leafe Christian has often said that the best person for living in community is someone who doesn’t need it; someone who is seeking personal growth not to heal old wounds, but to foster connection with others.

Judging by her definition, then, I was the ideal candidate for cohousing when I first became involved with Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community in 2004.

I lived in neighbourhood where people looked out for each other and worked together to make it a welcoming community.

I had close relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and members of the many organizations and groups I belonged to, as well as my faith community.

However, I had lived in a housing co-operative in Ontario for 12 years, and missed the special feeling of community I had found there.

So when I found out about cohousing, and that a cohousing community was being developed Nanaimo, I jumped at the chance to get involved.

Little did I know that I was embarking on such a time-consuming, exasperating, joyous, amazing, scary and tumultuous journey, one that stretched me in ways I never imagined.

As one of my sister cohousers said, “Cohousing will be the most expensive personal growth experience you’ve ever had” – and that’s certainly been true.

It’s forced me to be patient, to listen with both heart and mind, to accept different styles of perceiving, thinking and communicating, and value the wonderful richness these differences bring to the process of building community.

It’s also been an incredible learning opportunity. I now know more about plumbing, re-zoning, heating systems, windows, municipal regulations, bank financing, topsoil, debentures, contracts and architectural drawings than I ever thought possible.

It’s given me a reality check, when my idealism has had to confront the fact that we do live in a material world, where finances are the ultimate arbiter, whether I like it or not.

I’ve found, however, that even within the constraints of our society’s rules and regulations, the vision of community can be made real when you have a group of people who have a strong commitment to consensus and cooperation.

And thankfully, It’s also made me realize that I am not alone in my vision of environmental stewardship, and that there are others who think composting is fun, shopping is not, and sharing a car is just fine.

Kathryn Hazel lives at Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community in Nanaimo.

To find out more, go to

Bookmark and Share

Upcoming Events & Seminars

More Events »

Whipp Tips & News

Meet Triodos, the ethical investment firm trying to fund a better world

Investors are tired of questionable practices where executives at underperforming businesses are paid huge bonuses, and of companies making staggering amounts of money at a huge cost to the planet.

Details »

Renewables Investment Nudges Out Fossil Fuel And Nuclear

In 2017, global investment exceeded US$ 333 billion, compared to only US$ 144 billion invested in conventional fossil fuels and nuclear.

Details »

How socially responsible investing can help you avoid catastrophic drops within your portfolio

According to research from MSCI, companies in the bottom ESG quintile have been twice as likely to suffer a catastrophic loss (over 95% cumulative loss) within three years.

Details »

More News »

The information in this website was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however, we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate or complete. The information provided is a general source of information and should not be considered personal investment advice or solicitation to buy or sell securities.

Leede Jones Gable Inc. is a
Member of IIROC and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund
Stephen Whipp is a member of the Responsible Investment Association