First Work Meeting

By: Sarah Schrag, KfarDC participant

Last Sunday, eleven people representing nine households met to begin fully developing KfarDC’s vision. We discussed the core values we hope our community will exemplify. It was exciting to see individuals spanning several generations and coming from a diverse array of life experiences sitting together, visioning a community to share. The photo below includes some of the elements we discussed.

Visions for KfarDC shared by participants

To help us move forward with building our vision, we decided to host a monthly book club, between April and June, where we will discuss Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durret’s Creating Cohousing. We hope that this book will give us the language and tools to develop a more expansive vision of our community.

In addition, KfarDC is now looking for volunteers to take on responsibilities to help build the community. At the end of our last meeting, two people (including me) volunteered to help with the communications aspect of building our community. In the coming weeks, we will be looking for volunteers to take on other responsibilities. The more participation we get, the more we can build a community that reflects a diverse array of needs and interests and the faster the work will get done!

Stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved!

Questions & Answers

Post-It Questions

Last month, at the end of KfarDC’s National Jewish Cohousing Day event, we offered participants a chance to write down questions and said we’d follow up with answers. Below are those questions (slightly edited for clarity) and our answers.

We hope to answer more questions on our January 12th, 2020, cohousing tour.

  1. How are we going to develop the conflict resolution and mediation skills needed to build a community.

    As we start with the work of building community, we are luck to have the advice and guidance of cohousing professionals, such as Ann Zebaldo from Mid-Atlantic Cohousing and Roger Studley from Urban Moshav. As we progress, we plan on sending KfarDC members to moderation and mediation training to ensure the community has the skills internally to move us forward.

  2. With Millennials and Gen Z being so transitory, is there a space for them? Can there be a space for potentially temporary community members?

    We make no assumptions about what generation owns vs. rents. There are 20-year-olds who own condos and 60 year olds who prefer to rent. That said, KfarDC does plan on making a space for those who choose to rent. It is our goal to have a mix of owner-occupied and rental units.

  3. Approximately what it will cost to live in KfarDC?

    Costs in KfarDC will be market prices in the area. However, in addition to your condo, you’ll have access to communal resources, such as a communal kitchen or studio space you wouldn’t have elsewhere. Potential savings when living in cohousing also comes from shared resources, such as community-owned tools; traded services, such as babysitting and pet care; and from buying in bulk.

  4. What will be KfarDC’s formation process?

    You’re in it! KfarDC is currently conducting outreach events to build a broader You’re in it! KfarDC is currently conducting outreach events to build a broader community. From this broader community, some members will come together to create the formation group. This group will work on establishing the parameters of the community while developing a strong connection. At the same time, we will be working with a developer to identify and secure a property.

  5. Is it more difficult for individuals to get financing for cohousing?

    An apartment in cohousing is simply a condo or a co-op (depending on the legal structure the community adopts). Cohousing has no special status and thus its likely that lenders will treat a unit like any other unit in the neighborhood when making a lending determination.

  6. Is it more difficult to sell property located in a cohousing community?

    While we do not have data in general on this, there is DC-specific information. The two DC cohousing communities each have a list of hundreds of individuals interested in purchasing a home in those communities. Recent units for sale were purchased days after being listed or even before being publicly listed.

  7. Must everyone buy to live in KfarDC? What about people who may not be able to afford to purchase a unit in KfarDC now or ever but very much want to be a part of KfarDC?

    It is our goal to have a mix of owner-occupied and rental units to address multiple incomes.

Summary of Kfar DC’s Jewish Cohousing Day

Background

Five emerging Jewish cohousing communities around the country participated in the inaugural National Jewish Cohousing Day: Vermont, DC, Berkeley, San Diego, and Brookline.

In Washington, Kfar DC hosted three cohousing experts during a community dinner to share knowledge about what cohousing is and the vision of Jewish cohousing in the capital. Kfar DC’s mission is to create and sustain a Jewish, urban, cohousing community in Washington, DC. Our next event is on January 12th, 2020.

Led by Kfar DC co-founders, Gil Landau and Falynn Schmidt, the evening featured three speakers: Ann Zabaldo, from Mid-Atlantic Cohousing Association; Joel Kelty, from Century Associates, an architect and developer who focuses on multifamily housing; and Stephan Fineberg Sylvan, a founding member of Eastern Village Cohousing.

The Intro

First, Gil and Falynn shared the broad outlines of the vision for KfarDC, including a market rate building with about 30 rental/owned units within walking distance of established Jewish communities in northwest DC. Kfar DC imagines residents sharing mutually beneficial and supportive responsibilities of everyday life, such as meals, child care, running errands, pet sitting as well as sharing some resources, such as tools, bicycles, and Pack ‘n Plays.

Gil and Falynn also shared how Jewish cohousing might differ from general cohousing. While KfarDC welcomes residents of all faiths as a residents, the community will celebrate Jewish holidays and Jewish life cycle events, as well as offer communal spaces that support Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) and shabbat.

Outside Speaker Presentations

Ann led the community in a spontaneous song, shared a great cohousing video, and then focused on what it means to live together, how decisions are made, how communities are planned, their physical layout, and how to establish community.

Joel explained how the development process works, discussing community driver and developer led cohousing development. He discussed the challenges and opportunities of finding a site for cohousing, how in urban markets you are looking for a building site that has been overlooked. He then talked about designing cohousing, financing.

Stephen shared his personal experience as a cohousing resident at Eastern Village. He started with a story about being wiped after moving into cohousing with a one year old, realizing he didn’t have dinner, and, at that moment, his neighbor showing up with a large Ethiopian dinner that his family ate for a week. He then went on to discuss the joys of living in a supportive and multigenerational community.

Next Steps

The evening concluded with next steps and how to get involved. Kfar DC’s next event will be a tour of Eastern Village and Takoma Village to give participants firsthand experience of what cohousing looks and feels like.

Register for the January 12, 2020, event here.

Thanks for Joining Us!

It was great seeing so many people come on Sunday to talk about building Jewish cohousing in DC.

We really appreciate Ann Zabaldo, Joel Kelty, and Stephen Sylvan sharing their experiences with cohousing. We are preparing a summary of the event (minus the delicious food and good company) for those who were unable to make it.

Most importantly, our next step is a tour of cohousing in DC. We’ll be visiting Takoma Village Cohousing and Eastern Village Cohousing to see cohousing firsthand. The tour will take place:

When: January 12, 2020 from 2 to 5pm
Where:  6827 4th St NW, Washington, DC 20012