Glossary of Terms -
the Language of OHANA

BUILDING OHANA is a project rich with language that is often unfamiliar to anyone not already steeped in the concept of community living through a solid knowledge of cohousing or pocket neighborhoods.  We hope you find this glossary of terms - as OHANA interprets them - to be helpful in gaining a greater understanding of who we are & what we will be!


Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) represent key life tasks that people need to manage in order to live in their own home and be fully independent.


ADLs – 6 personal care elements:  bathing, dressing/grooming, eating, toileting, transferring (changing position), walking


IADL – 8 independent living elements:  communications (mail, phone, email), cooking, finances, home maintenance, housework & laundry, medications, shopping, transportation. 

BROADLY AFFORDABLE - this will be a diverse neighborhood of individuals and families with varying incomes, including those with limited or fixed incomes.


COHOUSING - a cooperative living arrangement in which people build a cluster of private, single-family homes around a shared common house.  Neighbors often share other common buildings and resources such as a workshop & tools, community gardens, a greenhouse, and maintenance equipment like lawnmowers & snowblowers.  Residents are communally responsible for managing and maintaining the community.  While BUILDING OHANA will involve more elements than a standard cohousing community there are many overlapping tenets.  Watch a short video on cohousing here...

COMMON HOUSE - The physical heart of a cohousing community. Features generally include a large commercial kitchen, dining area, laundry room, guest quarters, recreational space, and other amenities as determined by the particular community.  It is a place for common dinners, afternoon tea, children’s games on rainy days, a Friday night bar, arts & crafts, yoga and dance classes, music jam sessions… almost innumerable possibilities both organized and informal in nature.  The common house is designed for daily use, to supplement private living areas and foster social engagement - every resident's extended living room.

COMMON / SHARED SPACES - outdoor spaces often include perimeter parking, walkways, open greenspace, and community gardens.  Other possibilities include a workshop, greenhouse, small dog park, storage areas, gazebos, fire-pits, patios, splash pad, etc.


COMMUNITY GARDEN - cultivated by a group of people rather than a single family or individual (usually a gardening committee in a cohousing model.)  It may be one large, shared area or broken up into several smaller plots.  Such gardens often incorporate a mix of edible and ornamental plantings, incorporate environmental programs such as specific plantings to support pollinators (butterflies, bees, etc.), take into account their impact as wildlife habitats, and develop policies for the use of pesticides/herbicides (many are run organically.)  The bounty is generally used in common meals and shared among the residents.

COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE - a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.  This definition reflects the fundamentally social nature of human learning.  OHANA VILLAGE will learn, grow, and adapt as it ages, creating a living example for others who may wish to emulate our model.  


CONTRIBUTE - to give of one’s time, talents, knowledge or efforts in service to a common cause.  OHANA asserts that every person, no matter what their challenges, has a meaningful contribution to make toward the cause of thriving together.

DENSITY – as the measure of the number of homes or residents per unit area, often per acre of land.  Higher densities include benefits such as efficient use of infrastructure - roads/water/sewer/power – emergency services, public transportation, etc.  It can raise concerns in those who envision ugly buildings, overshadowed open space, parking problems, and irresponsible residents.   Properly designed, however, neighborhoods of increased density promote not only a more efficient use of resources but also more walkable neighborhoods, increased social engagement, a greater variety of housing options, and larger swaths of greenspace.  They also attract service oriented businesses such as cafes, craft and activity studios, pubs, food markets, boutiques, and art galleries. OHANA’s intentional neighboring covenants mean that the residents will be desirable neighbors not only to each other but also to their greater community.    

DIVERSE - including representatives from more than one social, cultural, or economic group.  OHANA actively welcomes and encourages residents of highly diverse backgrounds, helping us all bridge the gap of our differences through mutual learning, understanding, and cooperation.


DIVERSITY - respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.  OHANA believes diversity, in an intentional neighboring setting, enlightens people to see each other simply as human.  

GREENSPACE - undeveloped land maintained for recreational enjoyment, which separates, surrounds, or mixes throughout areas of intensive residential use.


HEALTHY LIVING ACROSS THE LIFESPAN - eating well, laughing frequently, cognitive and physical activity, positive interactions with others, being heard, feeling supported in times of need, helping others & feeling useful – these are all elements that contribute to living well across one’s lifespan.

HOSPITALITY - inviting family, friends, & strangers to partake of our lives and share our blessings -  food, entertainment, a beautiful yard, friendship, a lifestyle that we value, and more - all in order to enrich and enlarge each other’s lives.  One of the ways we intend to be of service to our greater neighborhood and the community at large.

INCLUSIVE - does not leave any part or group out

INCLUSION - a state of being valued, respected and supported.  It’s about ensuring that the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential. 

INTENTIONAL NEIGHBORING - neighbors engaging in meaningful interactions on a daily basis to support each other by sharing the ups and downs of life.  The goal over time is to develop bonds of friendship and a culture of neighborliness— kindness, helpfulness, & consideration. Residents commit to being good neighbors and to providing reciprocal support that helps build relationships and a strong sense of community. 

INTERGENERATIONAL LIVING – where multiple generations live in close proximity to one another, interact on a daily basis, and look out for each other.  

LEAD – to take the initiative in an action; to create an example for others to follow.  OHANA believes that all people have the capacity to lead and should have the opportunity to do so.  

MAXIMAL ACCESSIBILITY - 1) community amenities available to all residents regardless of intellectual, physical, or developmental challenges;  2) residence available to any who desire to live and engage as an intentional neighbor regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

NATURAL SUPPORTS - personal relationships that enhance the quality and security of a person’s life.  Examples include family relationships, friendships, associations with fellow students or co-workers, and associations developed though participation in community life - clubs & organizations, frequented restaurants, entertainment venues, & other services, regular use of public transportation, etc.

NEURODIVERSE - where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other variation of the human genome

PARTICIPATE - to take part in activities and community life

PEDESTRIAN ZONES - areas reserved for pedestrian-only use in which most or all motorized vehicles may be prohibited. 

PERIPHERAL PARKING – communal parking areas to keep vehicles at the edges of the neighborhood, promoting more carefree enjoyment of the common spaces by pedestrians & people-powered mobility devices. 

PERMEABLE COMMUNITY BOUNDARIES – allowing for easy passage of residents and neighbors into and out of the neighborhood; promotes engagement with the greater neighborhood and community at large.

POCKET NEIGHBORHOOD - a type of planned community that consists of a grouping of smaller residences, often around a common courtyard, designed to promote a close knit sense of community and neighborliness with an increased level of contact.  Generally comprised of 8-12 homes and a small community building, with parking kept at the periphery.

PRIVATE LIVING – privately owned homes with bedrooms and living areas generally oriented toward the back of the house and small, private yards; kitchens are oriented toward the front of the house and semi-private spaces, such as porches & small front gardens.  Each home has traditional amenities such as a full kitchen.   

RESIDENTS – families, professionals, retirees, singles, empty nesters, couples, young adults…a microcosm of the greater community, all living together as intentional neighbors


RIGHT-SIZED HOMES - Right-Sized Homes meet the needs of their occupants and the context of their neighborhood, while promoting energy efficiency, adaptability, and affordability.  Not "tiny homes" but without unused extra spaces.  Supplemented by the common house.

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT -  (also social involvement, social participation) - refers to one's interaction with and participation in a community or society.  The antidote to isolation.

SOCIAL ISOLATION - the experience of being separated from others - physically (as when a person lives in a remote area) and/or mentally - (as when a person feels socially or emotionally isolated from others.)  A person who experiences social isolation may develop feelings of loneliness, social anxiety, helplessness, depression, etc. as well as the negative physical ailments that often accompany such feelings.

SOLITUDE - the state of being alone, usually by choice, which can be a healthy, rejuvenating experience.  

SUSTAINABILITY - both of the community itself and in its practices – responsible, proactive decision-making and innovation that minimize negative impacts and maintain the balance between ecological stewardship, economic prosperity, political justice and cultural vibrancy to ensure a desirable, continuing community and, on a larger scale – planet - now and in the future.


TRANSITIONAL SPACES (aka buffer zones) – porches, patios, & small front gardens are all examples of semi-private spaces that provide a buffered transition from private space to shared common spaces.


UNIVERSAL DESIGN (close relation to inclusive design) - refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products, and environments that are inherently accessible to all across the life and ability span - (e.g. elders with impaired mobility, people with cognitive, developmental, or physical disabilities, and to those in prime health.)  Promotes maximal accessibility for everyone.


WALKABILITY - a measure of how friendly an area is to pedestrian mobility.  Factors include the presence of easily navigable footpaths or sidewalks, nearby traffic and road conditions, land use patterns, building accessibility and safety, distance to nearby amenities, and how easy it is to live without a vehicle.

THANK YOU for taking the time to learn more about BUILDING OHANA!  We welcome any questions as they often teach us what our Ohana friends are most interested in and where we could be more clear.