Hello! We’re hosting an invite-only, 3.5 day retreat for 55 friendly, inspiring, self-authored people that have young kids or want them in the next 4 years. From this group, we hope to build a new "coparenting village" in the Neighborhood in San Francisco.
A coparenting village is a cluster of 3-8 families in roughly adjacent homes with kids of a similar age. The fences would be knocked down and the backyard would be redeveloped into a shared commons; any of the adults could watch all of the kids. Grandparents, family, and friends could easily in guest rooms, the community would share meals, and kids would be surrounded by inspiring, caring adults.
Many of us resonate with the adage "it takes a village", but to actually coordinate such a place in San Francisco requires coordination, patience, and capital. Thanks to years of learning from many failed attempts (and a few successful ones), we believe we can curate a community that’s able to overcome these obstacles.
We’re inspired by the success of Noasis in Noe Valley, Radish in Oakland, and cohousing communities around the world. In the words of Phil and Kristen, the cofounders of Radish:
"People talk about the first year of having a kid as extraordinarily challenging. I feel like a bit of a jerk for saying this, but it’s been much easier than advertised for us. And we think our living situation plays a huge role in this.
Of course, it took a lot of upfront work to make this year easy. Building a community is hard. None of this came for free. But the payoff is there.
We’ve had to give up very little in our life to make room for our kid. We still eat dinner with friends every night of the week. We go out on a whim. And our baby girl has a whole clan of admirers."
Details about the retreat
Why: build community among folks on similar parenting timelines, with the hope of identifying a group of 3-8 values-aligned, motivated families.
When: September 15-18, 2023.
Who: friendly, ambitious, self-authored, curious people. This is invite-only, but most invites will go to referrals from other attendees. The rule of thumb for a referral: "Do I want to be more like this person in some way?" The majority of attendees should be able to afford a $2-5M home in San Francisco in the next 2 years.
Where: Camp Earnest is a 21 acre former summer camp in Tuolomne; 1 hour from Yosemite and 2.5 hours from SF.
Costs: $1K, which covers foods, accommodations, transportation, and entertainment.
Agenda: leave SF Thursday late morning, explore the grounds, dinner; unconference Friday and most of Saturday, followed by happy hour and live music; Sunday morning hike through the giant Sequoias of Calaveras Big Trees State Park, back to SF by Sunday night.
Amenities: we’re renting the entire 21 acre property of Camp Earnest and 35 individual rooms in a nearby hotel. The property includes a house, several cabins, two year round yurts, dining lodge, cedar bathhouse with toilets, showers and a Finnish sauna, a big cedar hot tub, an Acoustic Amphitheater and a meditation and movement hall. Enjoy fire pits and circles, or follow the Stair Trail down to the spring fed Turnback Creek, with walking paths, little waterfalls and a rock labyrinth.
Transportation: we have a 50-person bus driving to and from SF, which will also shuttle you between the hotel and the campground in mornings and evenings.
Food: every meal will be a farm-to-table feast by chef Jesse Bloom.
Hope to see you in Yosemite,
— Jason and the Organizers of the Neighborhood
The Fire Ring Acoustic Ampitheater
Professional chefs serving farm-to-table meals at Camp Earnest
A map of the grounds
The joint backyard of adjacent homes would become the village center
The Neighborhood is a 501c3 founded by Jason Benn, who’s been working on it full-time with the help of many others in the broader community since 2021. Jason has been funded by Schmidt Futures through the Innovation Fellows program since late 2022.
Jason makes money from his grant and through a revenue-sharing agreement with real estate agents whose clients come from the Neighborhood.
The reason this project was started is because Jason and many other friends wanted their children to be raised in a place where they’d be surrounded by many supportive and inspiring adults, of all generations. The Neighborhood’s mission is help create many of these living communities, all within a one square mile walkable campus.
This seems hard. How will you solve the real estate problem?
We’re inspired by three examples.
Radish was strategic and selective and found an ideal large lot in 2 years. You can read about their story here. They saw dozens of properties, seriously evaluated about 10, and put in 3 offers. They were also holding out for listings with >4000sqft of building and >8000sqft of land, which is more difficult than finding adjacent homes in San Francisco.
Solaris was strategic and found 4 adjacent homes in <1 year. They’re renting, not buying, but it’s still instructive. The founder (Tom Schulz) spent 3 months going door-to-door around the Neighborhood, getting the contact information of landlords, and asking them for the ages and tenure of tenants. Eventually he found a cluster of adjacent homes occupied by early 20s tenants that had all moved in within the prior two years. When two hit the market at around the same time, he rented them both and filled them with a new coliving community. His research worked: within a year, another 2 houses hit the market and he got them both.
Noasis got lucky and found 4 adjacent homes in <2 years. They looked unsuccessfully for a year for 3 adjacent homes, settled for 2, and got lucky as the next 2 hit the market within a year.
Most of the data we need is public, and the rest we can get manually. Enough mortgage and ownership data is public that we can estimate which homes are owned outright, which have mortgages with favorable or unfavorable terms, and whether a home is owner-occupied or rented. For any data we can’t get automatically, we’ll partner with realtors that canvass the Neighborhood area and maintain relationships with homeowners. We’ll also scrape listings data from Zillow, Craigslist, and Redfin. Our goal is to identify clusters of homes that are likely to turn over in similar timeframes.
What about daycares and schools?
This project is one of several project by the Neighborhood in this square mile. We’ve already hosted two unconferences, similar to this one, that each seeded a new coliving house:
The climate-themed unconference we hosted in March seeded Treehouse, a 14-bedroom coliving community on the Panhandle that opens September 1st. So far, 6 of the 8 residents is a founder working on climate change.
The AGI and alignment-themed unconference we hosted in June seeded an 18-bedroom house on Oak and Steiner, which opens October 1st.
A future unconference will be themed around the future of education and human flourishing, which will also seed a coliving house. If you don’t want to send your kids to the existing options in San Francisco, then our hope is that these folks will build childcare and microschools that better serve Neighborhood parents.