What is it like to live at Champlain Valley Cohousing?

We like to describe CVC as living in an old-fashioned neighborhood where you really know and can depend on your neighbors. We planned our community to be a safe haven for children, so car traffic is kept away from play areas and walking/biking paths. We embrace an environmentally sensitive lifestyle, so you won’t find any noxious cleaners or gardening supplies here.

Is CVC like a condo association?

Sort of. We all pay a monthly fee to maintain shared areas, and we privately own our own homes and yards. However, we chose to engage with our neighbors more than a typical condo association or suburban neighborhood. We organize monthly potluck dinners and often get together in smaller groups. We consider ourselves a participatory community.

What is a participatory community?

Many tasks around our community are taken care of by members who volunteer their time and expertise. We are proud of our shared land and each contribute in our unique way to keep the community running smoothly. Our participation also keeps our HOA fees low – just $150 per month per unit.

How are decisions made?

We are a self-governed community. We have five “circles” that address different areas of running our community. Each circle is comprised of a handful of residents who meet monthly and make decisions. Each year, we have a community-wide meeting to vote on our budget.

What about privacy?

You may be surprised by how much privacy residents enjoy. Our townhomes have extra soundproofing between shared walls and townhomes have privacy walls on their back decks. Members seem to enjoy the spontaneous social interactions as we walk our dogs, empty our recycling bins, and go about our everyday lives. All activities, whether it be a potluck dinner or group hike up Mt. Philo, are voluntary.

Are there lots of parties?

During warmer weather, families often spontaneously start a backyard bonfire or gather on the green for a friendly game of soccer or tag. Many members enjoy informal dinners with each other. However, were are not a hard partying set and many visitors and new families notice how peaceful it is here. If anything, the crickets and frogs may keep you up at night! We observe quiet hours from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

What is sociocracy?

Sociocracy (also called Dynamic Governance) is both a structure of governance and a set of tools for guiding the decision-making process. Well executed, Sociocracy allows people to craft decisions in a series of rounds where each person has opportunities for input. Objections from any Circle member are encouraged when that person has a concern or a suggestion for improving a proposal. Decisions are final after a round in which Circle members give consent by saying “no objection.”

What is compassionate communication?

Also known as nonviolent communication, compassionate communication is a philosophy of communication that we use to resolve community conflicts. It helps us remain empathetic toward each other, even when emotions run high and there is anger or frustration present. Using compassionate communication, we try to to speak to others without blaming and to hear personal criticisms without withering. We bring in a communication expert annually to help us learn and refine our communication skills. This FAQ was inspired by Experience Life magazine.

What is the monthly HOA fee?

Each household contributes $150 per month to keep our roads plowed, our grass cut, and to maintain other essential basic services. As a community, we volunteer our time and experience to perform some tasks to keep our monthly fee low.

Where can I learn more about Cohousing?

The Cohousing Association of the United States is a great place to start.