Austin Pocket Neighborhood

Image courtesy of Pocket Neighborhoods

What is a Pocket Neighborhood?
A pocket neighborhood is a small group of 5-12 homes clustered together around a central, shared space. Everyone lives in their own, private homes, and yet they choose to share communal areas--like a pool, garden, courtyard--to live in a more sustainable way and foster more connections and friendships. The concept balances independence with interdependence.

What will the Austin Pocket Neighborhood be like?
The vision for our pocket neighborhood will evolve as people join the group, but to start, we will be a small group of homes (around 3-4) sharing approximately 1.4 acres in a pre-existing neighborhood. The model for this time of community within a community is N Street Cohousing in California. The group started when two neighbors tore down the fences separating their backyards. Now their shared space includes 19 homes and more than 50 people. 

Within this model, individuals can purchase and own their own plot of land upon which they can build their own house. The space around our homes is communal space that we can use for an organic garden, composting, swimming pool, play area, tool library, etc. We will decide on the annual fee necessary to develop and maintain our communal areas. We will have optional events, such as weekly dinners, movie nights, yoga classes, etc., as well as a monthly mandatory meeting to make decisions and discuss issues affecting our community.

Where are you hoping to create the Austin Pocket Neighborhood?
Preliminary land searches show that East Austin has the largest and least expensive (and also beautiful) plots of land available. I am also hoping to start a public Montessori charter school in East Austin. I am biased toward living there, so I can keep my commute short and truly immerse myself in the community.

Why would I want to live in a pocket neighborhood?
A pocket neighborhood blends the benefits of individual home ownership with the benefits of being connected to your neighbors. For example, if you're in the middle of making dinner and you realize you need to borrow an egg, you could go to any of your neighbors. A pocket neighborhood also provides a safe place for children. You can give them the freedom to play outside without the danger of being hit by a car or interacting with strangers. As a community, we can jointly own and maintain things that would be too expensive or too wasteful to own individually (such as a swimming pool or a high-quality treadmill). 

Living in a pocket neighborhood does not mean you are stuck hanging out with the same people all the time. You are not obligated to attend social events, nor are you obligated to invite the entire community to social events that you host. The only required commitment is a monthly meeting to make decisions and discuss issues affecting our community.

Who is invited to join the Austin Pocket Neighborhood?
The group is open to anyone who values community, interdependence, health and wellness, and caring for ourselves, others, and the environment. Members will also need the financial independence to get a mortgage to contribute to the purchase of the land (approximately $45,000) and to pay for a home to be built (approximately $140 per square foot). We are currently discussing the idea with ma modular, but we are open to other builders as well.

What is the timeline for this project?
We hope to get a group of interested folks together from November 2011 through April 2012. Then we hope to purchase the land and begin building, with a move-in date of November 2012.

I'm interested! What do I do?
Complete this form, and we will be in touch. We look forward to it!

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