All of the houses face each other in Arcadia. There is a central common house equipped with guest rooms, washers and driers, a children’s playroom and a large kitchen used for shared meals. Laskody said the common house is often utilized for group activities such as a weekly yoga class and even Girl Scout meetings.
She said the shared resources in the common house — such as the two guest rooms and washers and driers — make it more feasible to have smaller individual homes. A majority of Arcadia’s homes also have a passive solar design, which helps naturally collect solar heat in the winter and expel heat in the summer.
Parking in Arcadia is located on the peripheral of the neighborhood creating a more pedestrian-orientated environment. Residents can walk to their mailboxes, to the common house or to their neighbor’s house without ever having to get on a road, Laskody said.
“The physical layout makes a lot of accidental interactions and from that more structured things happen more naturally, more often,” Palmer said. “It’s not like where you’ve got a community clubhouse at the end of the neighborhood — our layout has a lot of things more centralized.”
In 2001, an architect living in Arcadia and a group of other interested people came together to create a cohousing community closer to downtown Carrboro, and in 2006 the first resident moved into Pacifica.
Pacifica’s features include a common house, a guest house, two rainwater cisterns and a passive solar design. Tanya Jisa, who has lived in Pacifica since 2007, said the shared values of the community — affordability, diversity, community and sustainability — resonated with her.
“It has been just as interactive as I have wanted it to be,” Jisa said. “It’s been really great to be able to care about the environment and being sort of protective of our spaces, and getting to know people on a level that I wouldn’t get to know them if I were in any other neighborhood.”
In Pacifica, neighbors are expected to complete four hours of community labor per month. Jisa is the secretary of the Pacifica Homeowners Association, and she takes minutes at community meetings counting towards her shared labor.
Jisa also said on the second Saturday of the month, Pacifica holds a work day where members of the community perform tasks such as mulching, weeding and cleaning the community and guest house.
Arcadia also has participation hours which aid in keeping the community affordable, Laskody said, but members can pay an extra monetary value if they are unable to complete their hours that month. Neighbors can help with cleaning the common house, mowing, raking leaves or organizing books in the common house’s library.
“I love that I live in a community where folks have made a very deliberate choice to be an intentional community,” Laskody said. “They know they want to spend time with neighbors, they want to share meals together, they want to share in the work of keeping up our common ground — there is a level of trust and I think a basic belief in the goodness of human beings.”