Cohousing communities first appeared in the U.S. in 1987 and new ones have been building every year since 1990. These communities are varied: urban, suburban, rural; some in new buildings, some in previously existing buildings; some all single-family homes, some with plexes, some all in one building!
Their common characteristics are listed here at the national cohousing association website: http://www.cohousing.org/six_characteristics
Stone’s Throw Ecovillage in Viroqua will be a combination of the cohousing model for housing, and additional features associated with an ecovillage: an emphasis on sustainable design, extensive gardens and orchards, natural building, and (we are hoping), a woodlot.
Some highlights from the directory of cohousing affiliates at cohousing.org:
102 communities have been completed
51 are in California
7 in Michigan, 1 in Illinois, 2 in Iowa, 5 in Minnesota (our surrounding states)
2 in Wisconsin (though with 3 in Madison and at least 1 in Milwaukee, this directory is clearly not quite complete)
So far in 2011, one new cohousing community has been completed, but 20 are under construction. The peak year for new cohousing construction was 2000: 12 new communities were completed!