Community Spotlight: My House Our House

Photo from My House Our House

Photo from My House Our House

Community living can take on many forms. Today I wanted to share with you the story of Shadowlawn, the home of Jean McQuillin, Karen Bush, and Louise Machinist; three women who created a cooperative household to reduce expenses and live well for much less money than it takes to run a traditional home. They are housemates, friends, and co-authors and three individuals who chose to live together.

In the summer of 2013, their book came out to share their story with others.

In 2004, we were each happily living independently in Pittsburgh. While planning for a distant retirement, we realized how fantastic it could be to live together. We found ourselves asking, “Why not now?”

I encourage you to continue reading about My House Our House below.

On what seemed like barely a moment’s notice, we pooled resources and bought a big old house. Making it up as we went along, we dubbed the shared home we created a cooperative household. Friends urged us to share our story and so we have. We invite curious readers to step through our door and learn what makes our cooperative household work.

Photo from My House Our House

Photo from My House Our House

Living in community can be a perfect solution for so many people. You may be surprised to find that you already know the people with whom this experience would be most successful. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and do something about it. My House, Your House tells the story of three women who did just that.

Their website also features a lot of great information about community building and cohousing. This includes an inclusive resource page and a “how to” page to get you thinking about the right questions to start this process.

Most recently the trio was featured on NBC’s Today Show in an interview with Jane Pauley.

It is always good for me to see my peers succeed as they spread the message of community living and alternatives as we age. I am happy to recommend their story to anyone interested in seeing how someone else has made this happen in their own life.

Join the conversation! We want to see you at our Facebook community? Share your stories, ideas, thoughts, and questions as we all explore the idea of community building for our futures.


  1. Linda Lettan says

    I have a wonderful home on Lake Hartwell in Townville, SC 29689…I have rented on and off over the last few years and it has not been good. I would love to find a way to share as a Community House for someone who love open space and outside…I am happily married to the love of my life, but this would make a great home for 3 friends to share and love…I have lots of friends but they love their own space and their own home….But each month with everything going up they find it harder. How do you go about having your friends explore the idea of community living for there future

    • Marianne Kilkenny says

      Invite them over for a weekend or sleepover to test it out? See if you are ready. Try out some of the suggestions in my blog. Or… buy my book that gets you to see if you are ready and how to bring the others into your fold. Not for everyone, YET!


  2. I’ve enjoyed the story of Shadowlawn and have corresponded a little with Louise. Thanks for highlighting. We find that many in our circle are skittish about this idea, but I think the more inspirational stories we see, the easier it will be to consider alternatives.

    I’d like to nominate some good friends of ours, “The Shedders”, who have an eBook and blog available about their journey to three couples retiring together: It’s been an inspiration to follow their progress.


Women For Living in Community