Who’s Rightsizing?

Look what flew into my Inbox the other day?

This picture was sent by an architect named Charles Durrett of McCamant & Durrett, designers of owner-planned communities–known as cohousing communities– where each household has its own “space,” but where many other aspects of daily life and home-owning are shared.  I interviewed Chuck back in 2006 when I was researching the book that came to be called Rightsizing Your Life:  Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most.

At the time, I was in reporter mode and still in the stage of defining what “rightsizing” was, how it differed from plain ‘ol “downsizing,”  and who was actually–and consciously–simplifying their lives in terms of both their living space and the ways in which they were chosing what to keep and what to eliminate from their surroundings.

The picture above shows the steering committee of a new cohousing group formed in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and apparently, Chuck often suggests that the core planning groups he consults for read Rightsizing as they embark on such a major life change.

Doing that and sending me the picture all this time later was really dear of him, but I think it also speaks to the point that ‘rightsizing” is a definitely process, not an event.  It doesn’t happen in one, fell swoop, either.  And whatever age we may be, it is a conscious, practical, and psychological evolution in the way we live our lives.

As I discovered doing the book and interviewing virtually scores of people all over America, rightsizing as I define it in the “Rightsizing Credo” on this blog, is an approach that enables us to create new surroundings that will profoundly impact  the way we  feel and behave. And whether the “new surroundings” turn out to be cohousing or an “active adult” community, a cottage, cabin, condo, or an “upsized” single family dwelling, as Lance Armstrong said, “It’s not about the bike!”

And it’s not merely about the square footage of your living space, as I certainly learned while interviewing Chuck in the course of tracking down the incredible variety of people ready and wanting to rightsize their lives.  It’s about discovering for yourself what’s right for you at your age, stage, and situation.  

I can’t even remember, now, how I first encountered Chuck and his wife and partner, Katie McCamant, but I wanted to learn more about the CoHousing movement and  every time I mentioned the subject, their names surfaced.  And of course, they turned out to be a tremendous source of information about this burgeoning lifestyle choice that requires, of necessity, that participants simplify their surroundings and bring with them to their new communities only the household possessions they use and love.

I soon found out that Chuck and Katie have been key players in the cohousing movement since the very beginning and responsible for many of the cohousing communities that have been built all over the country for seniors who want their own private living areas, but also desire to part of a community populated with kindred spirits.  Some of the cohousing communities are age defined, others are deliberately inter-generational.

This year in some very beautiful places, McCamant & Durrett, architects, are holding a series of workshops for people interested in finding out more about cohousing–what it is, and how to achieve it in their own, chosen communities.  If this is something that appeals to you as you think about rightsizing your life, you can check out the series of cohousing informational meetings coming up during September and beyond.

If you feel like spending a little time in Boulder, Colorado or Big Sur, California, (shown above), and learning about building a community from the ground up, I say go for it!

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