Begun in April, 2016 as a ‘good idea’ by a small group who’d not yet heard of “cohousing,” Common Ground formally launched in January, 2017. In May, 2017 two of our group attended the National Cohousing Conference in Nashville, including one spending a day with Chuck Durrett and the developers of Quimper Village. After a hiatus of a few months later that year, we moved ahead with an ambitious time line. Common Ground Community announced the opportunity to become a member of the first UU [Unitarian Universalist-founded] senior cohousing project in America outside CA (hat tip to Glacier Circle). A 22-acre parcel was purchased in northeast Knoxville, TN in a beautiful natural hillside setting less than 15 minutes to downtown and views of the Smokies. To our great disappointment, we were unable to finalize an affordable development plan and put the property back on the market in late 2018. Without meaningful growth from October 2018 to March 2019, the project was reluctantly brought to a close.
We followed a successfully tested senior cohousing model, that of Elderspirit (Abingdon, VA), which permits individuals to have an ideal balance of private space and mutual support and connection in community. Quimper Village in WA has also been an inspiration, and our friends in Germantown Commons (TN’s first cohousing community) have been terrific allies. Common Ground was to incorporate universal design and other features to support intentional, mindful community development and cooperative living. This kind of intentional neighborhood is one of the best choices for those concerned about loneliness, isolation, and the challenges of aging (with nod to Dr. Bill Thomas and appreciation of Dr. Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal” perspective). We hope others will consider taking up this important option for the aging population.
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