Marie Owen | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Marie Owen


Marie Owens wants Jackson residents to building a stronger community through co-housing.

Marie Owen wants to spend more time with her Fondren neighbors and build a stronger sense of community. After attending a national co-housing conference in Boulder, Colo., last year, the event inspired her to bring the co-housing concept to Jackson.

Owen and her sister, Hilda Owen, organized "Intentionally Building Community," a public presentation and two-day workshop that begins tonight at Duling Hall in Fondren. Architects Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant, who brought the concept of co-housing to the United States from Denmark 20 years ago, are the event's guest speakers.

"My sister and I sit around the dining room table and say: 'I wish this person lived closer to us so we could go out to dinner tonight,'" Owen says about why she organized the event. "We live too far apart now, I see my neighbors' cars more than I see my neighbors and (co-housing) is a way to get a close, caring community."

Co-housing communities have gained popularity in other U.S. cities, but the trend hasn't reached Mississippi, yet, Owens says. Co-housing is a process in which a group of people works together to create and maintain their neighborhood. Instead of developers building a neighborhood, or residential units, all members of the community are involved in the process. Co-housing includes rehabilitating existing homes or buildings and residents typically share a common open space or facilities.

"It's neighbors who want to design and define their own neighborhood for economic reasons, for social reasons, for environmental reasons, for security reasons, for sustainability," Owens says. "There are all sorts of reason why people want to live closer together."

Owens, 62, is a freelance graphic designer and Fondren resident.

"Intentionally Building Community" starts tonight at 7 p.m at Duling Hall (672 Duling St.) with the presentation "Neighborhoods Building Neighborhoods Maximizing a Southern Sense of Place," by Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant. Tickers are $15 in advance; $20 at the door and $10 for college students. Registration is closed for the weekend workshop. For information, call 601-362-7713.

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