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What are Intentional Communities?

Intentional communities are a broader term used to describe such communities that are planned by those who intend to live within the community. These include many housing cooperatives, and almost all cohousing and ecovillage communities, along with other types of intentional communities such as ashrams, kibbutzes and communes – and some housing co-operatives.

What is an Ecovillage?

An ecovillage is a sustainable community, committed to living in an ecologically, economically, and spiritually sound way. Astrophysicist and environmentalist Robert Gilman created the term ecovillage in 1991. Self-sufficiency, designed for community and well-being, local economy, minimal environmental impacts and growing organic food are features of an ecovillage. It is this commitment to the environment that differentiates ecovillages from other intentional communities.

What is Cohousing?

“Cohousing” is a concept for communities and housing from Denmark. The key principles of cohousing are that of a sense of community, participation, having some common shared facilities, affordability of the units and residents managing the building themselves. Everyone works together as a collective and shares ownership of common areas, but rents or owns their own unit. Most co-housing developments are designed to be environmentally friendly.

What is a Cooperative?

A “cooperative” is a legal arrangement that serves as an alternative to for-profit incorporation that is owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. There are numerous different models of cooperative ownership and governance. The scope of the cooperative, along with the period of existence, can also be limited. Such is the case with building cooperatives, which only exist until a building is complete and ownership of the units is transferred to individual members. Co-operative housing is cooperatively owned and managed. Residents share the responsibilities and have control of their own units, which they either rent from the co-op or own themselves. There are over 2,200 housing co-operatives with 90,500 units in Canada with a market value of 5.7 billion in assets. Over 250,000 Canadians live in Housing co-ops. Housing co-ops offer more security at a lower cost than renting or condominium ownership. Co-operatives are a way for a group of committed or caring people to accomplish great things. Some of the better known co-operatives are Gay Lea Foods, Cooperators Insurance, Ontario Natural Food Co-op, Autoshare, Windshare and Mountain Equipment Coop. Many ethnic communities use cooperatives to facilitate the creation of non-profit housing for their community; in addition to community centres which they rent out for events and banquets that make them self sufficient for the services they provide to the community.