Tools for Creating Community

As you may know, my mission is to create places for Boomers to grow older in grace and dignity. My big thing is not to wait. If you’re someone who has been talking about these ideas with a friend, don’t wait 10 years. Let’s do it now!


In a radio interview I did earlier this year with Cathy Severson, host of the blog radio show “Retirement Life Matters,” I discuss my six-year circuitous and bumpy path that led to the shared Golden Girls-like home I happily now live in in Asheville, N.C. My goal is to help your path be considerably faster and easier. Here are tools to create community in your life now. Click here for a link to the full 30-minute interview and a downloadable transcript.


How do you get started?
I see three key components for creating community in your life.
Ask yourself:
1. Who are the people you most want to live with?
2. Where is the place you see yourself living?
3. What are key interpersonal tools you’ll need to get along with your housemates?It is critical to begin with a clear vision for yourself of why you want a community component in your housing. Is it economic? For social connections? For health reasons? Or all three combined?

What tools will help you?
I assist groups and individuals to get started by focusing on what I call “My Why?” Ask yourself: Why do I want to do this? When the process gets difficult, you’ll find it helpful to refer back to why you were inspired to create a community in the first place.

I highly recommend the “The Blue Print of We.” You can view this free document produced by The Center for Collaborative Awareness at this link. This is a document we regularly use in our shared house in Asheville both, as a contract with our landlord, and as a working document between housemates. Each of us fills out our own part and then we combine sections for a comprehensive document we’ve all agreed to.

Making decisions is one of the most difficult things to do with a group of people. It’s not about someone winning. It’s about everyone being heard and people feeling included in the decision. We use a form of decision making called “Dynamic Governance.

We also use Non-Violent Communication, a method developed by Marshall Rosenberg. This communication tool enables you to clearly express your feelings and needs and keeps the phrasing to “I” statements, such as, I feel hurt when you ….”. You can access all these documents in the Resources section of my website under “Tools for Getting Along.”

Please contact me if you’re ready to make community happen in your life and create the kind of living arrangement you want for the next phase of your life.


  1. Michele Marie says

    Wow, great job and love the look of the website — professional, warm, succinct and useful.


  2. Glad you liked it. Only going to get better.


  3. Suzanne Taylor says

    I am thrilled to find your website (stumbled across it’s existence while reading a magazine at the doctor’s office, as I have recently thought about co-housing with a friend or two. I am a 62 year old widow of 13 years, very independent, and unable to accept that there are so many older women out there who are struggling on their own with loneliness and financial strain. I recently suggested co-housing to a friend of mine, and we are both considering it. My friend is also a long-time single woman of 54, and independent. We both work full-time. I own a townhome, and the idea is to live here, where we would each have our own bedroom, bathroom, and living room. The kitchen would be shared. I think my biggest concern would be how to terminate the arrangement if, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out, and what impact that would have on our friendship.

    • Hi Suzanne,
      You really have gotten a good grip on this concept and the possible pitfalls! The best way I have found is to have the discussion about the possible effect of the living arrangement on your friendship at the beginning. Now! I love a document called the Blueprint of We We use it in our house. Also love the Sharing Housing book Has all the information that you need in one easy place.

      Love that you know what the space is that you both need and also what you are willing to share. Crucial that you know that. “Long time independent” would conjure up some things for me about if that person hasn’t lived with anyone for a really long time. Have that discussion about past experiences, and most importantly, your WHY!!! why are you doing this??? Another tip. Don’t move in to either of your houses. Power struggle could happen.

      Plan for change. Winning the lottery, boyfriend, children, illness, these I call “The Exit Strategy”. Do it before you go any farther with this sometime romantic notion.

      Sidebar note on terminology for this movement : I think of living with someone in one house as shared housing, not cohousing. More on that in a blog. Keep going!! Don’t stop!!

Women For Living in Community