By: Jennifer Fluri – A feminist political geographer, professor at CU Boulder, and BHC Board Rep.
Cooperative housing in Boulder through the Boulder Housing Coalition (BHC) is a dynamic and resourceful method for creating and sustaining community. The BHC staff and residents work to develop communal living by providing and attending workshops, trainings, and lectures on effective communication, mediating conflicts that seek restorative rather than retributive justice, and addressing larger societal problems such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classist biases. As a resident of Boulder who does not currently live in a housing cooperative, I would absolutely welcome a BHC cooperative in my neighborhood.
In my experience, the individuals living in each home make a concerted effort to meet, communicate, and develop positive relationships with their neighbors. In a country that has become more socially and politically divided, it is vitally important for individuals to develop community in ways that seek common-ground through acceptance of our shared differences. The cooperative housing model also has a positive impact on our environment. The sharing of household resources provides an environmentally conscious and sustainable way of living.
I have also met, interviewed, surveyed, and run focus groups with BHC residents. The information I have gathered has shown that residents learn a great deal by living with others from diverse backgrounds. Residents share and acquire new skills from accounting and household management to construction and engineering. They further engage in the strenuous but rewarding work of experiencing new ways of living that are significantly divergent from their own backgrounds. If more Boulder residents took the time to get to know BHC cooperative residents, I believe they would view these homes as an incredible benefit to their own neighborhoods and communities.
The BHC method of communal access to resources, living spaces, and most importantly sharing meals and conservations together, improves one’s overall ability to accept and empathize with others through kindness and compassion.