Charles and Nikki, Chris and four other friends of friends bunked together in a beat up tract house on ten acres overlooking the ocean. They kept the rules to a minimum. They would all work together to build 400 square feet (the equivalent of a two car garage) of building shell per person; couples could combine. And they would build a Big House and a Big Barn for all. They used the same materials, but varied the designs to taste. The Big House had The Kitchen, The Living Room and The Bath. The Big Barn had The Laundry, The Woodshop and The Project Room. The individual homes were quiet and intimate, surrounded by gardens. Four daughters were born there.
Meals and shopping were shared. Design decisions or management disagreements were usually resolved in favor of whoever cared the most- the person still talking after everyone else had gone to bed. Since nobody was afraid to speak up, everybody had a turn at prevailing.
When some people intent on founding a co-housing community came to me, I took them to see the one I knew. The neophytes had read the book and enrolled in the workshops, and so were excited to see a homegrown version in the local vernacular.
They were disappointed. There were only four or five families at that time, not the thirty that the book declared the minimum necessary for a successful co-housing project. When asked about by-laws and frequency of business meetings, Nikki admitted that no one had seen the need for by-laws, and most issues were resolved over dinner.
The people left confident that theirs would be the first real Cohousing Project in the county.