Shared food nourishes our communities.
Many of the communities that are part of BoCHA prepare and share house meals most days of the week. Cooking for each other is a daily act of generosity and reciprocity. Eating together allows us to connect regularly, and be aware of what’s happening in each others lives.
Sharing food and cooking duties saves us both time and money.
Our households tend to share a large proportion of their overall food expenses. We buy food together in bulk at wholesale prices to keep costs down. It’s common for our members to cook only about once a week, but to have dinner almost every night. Our average total food budget is about $5 per person per day. Having home cooked meals, leftovers, and staples easily available also makes eating out less common — which also saves our members money.
We express community values in our purchasing.
While we strive to keep our costs low, that’s not the only thing we care about. We buy mostly organic, and have a preference for food that comes from local suppliers and wholesalers, or from cooperative producers. As a community, we tend to eat animal products in moderation. Some members occasionally pool resources in order to purchase locally produced pastured meats in bulk at a deep discount to grocery store prices.
Living in community is a set of skills that can be shared and acquired.
Providing a space for people to learn from and teach each other these skills helps us improve our community by learning from each other, and enables others to create and implement their own visions of community. Having more open educational events also helps us explain to others what it is that we’re doing and why.
Together we can build stronger relationships.
As with bulk food buying, pooling our resources gives us better access and better pricing for the services that many of us use, and so we negotiate agreements with other community organizations on behalf of our members. Working together we can also foster better relationships with the geographic neighborhoods that we’re part of, and other civic organizations within the city.
Our community needs a voice in Boulder.
Today’s zoning and land-use regulations are born of a mid-twentieth century fixation on privacy, individualism, and the automobile. These laws, and the social norms which surround them, make it very difficult to create community oriented living situations not just in Boulder, but in many cities across the US. We are working together to change these laws and give more people the opportunity to learn about and experience a more shared existence.
We inform ourselves and others, and engage when decisions are made.
We closely follow issues going before Boulder’s City Council, and the way they impact community living, and keep our members up to date. We show up to participate in our geographic neighborhood associations, and build relationships with our neighbors. We engage in public processes like Housing Boulder, and stay connected to our elected and appointed local government officials, as well as city staff.
Connecting communities and potential members.
Different communities have different characters, and not all potential members will fit in everywhere. We help inform both potential members and communities with openings about each other, so they can find the best potential match.
Connecting established communities with each other.
Community living isn’t anything new to Boulder. Some of our cooperative and co-housing communities have been in continuous operation for decades. However, especially for rental co-ops that sometimes run afoul of Boulder’s occupancy limits, it isn’t always easy to connect openly with the broader community. BoCHA is making it easier than ever for people within these communities to get in touch with each other to share their experiences, resources, and life in general.
Facilitating the creation of new communities.
We’re currently unable to meet the demand for community living situations in Boulder. Some communities receive dozens of applications for each opening they publicize. Many of the people who are ultimately turned away would make great community members — we just don’t have space for them. Facilitating the creation of additional housing cooperatives of all types would allow these people to experience and benefit from our model of affordable, sustainable, community enhancing housing.