River Rock Commons is the first developer driven cohousing community consisting of 34 homes located within walking distance of “Old Town” Fort Collins located right next to a large city park complete with tennis courts and baseball fields.
In stark contrast to the “sister” cohousing community up the street, we were immediately welcomed by Laura, our host, into the Common House and offered a beer as she started to show us around. Laura was the consummate ambassador to their community and to the town of Fort Collins.
People in this community were aware and welcoming to our presence. At the interview itself five women gathered sharing their individual stories of life at RiverRock while others were in the kitchen making peach preserves. Laura had lived abroad and gone through an intensive process of thinking about where she wanted to settle in the states. She also had strong views after dealing with her aging parents that she did not want to be in an age-restricted community or living by herself. Cheryl came to the community as a widow with a child and shared how great it was to have other families there for support. Alice was one of the newest members who moved there with her husband about three months ago. They had looked around at a condo project downtown but thought that RiverRock offered such great value for the money plus all the other added benefits. Andrea, was one of the original cohousers and had a lot of information to share. She felt that cohousing was ideal for people working from home and that they had seen an increase of people who were entrepreneurs move into the community. She had also put together a study that showed that the shared community work saved each community member almost $200 a month in landscaping and other shared amenities.
When the question turned to how the community deals with aging and sickness, the mood shifted. Laura shared how different death was handled within a community giving an example of her own husband and then another longstanding member. The community really came together and share the experience, especially the kids who got to be exposed in a very real way. It was profound and moving.
After the interview, we attended the weekly community pot luck. Again people were welcoming and engaging. The next day we had breakfast at Don’s home, he is one of the original cohousers having lived there for over ten years. While he painstakingly made us coffee he shared this comment with us. “There is a dangerous comfort that comes from living by yourself in a single family home. I embraced the idea of cohousing because it forces me to be flexible and not get into a rut. It is a challenge to live closely with other people, because you have to grow and I like that.”