Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World
I recently received Ross Chapin’s new book called Pocket Neighborhoods to review and share with you. This is a beautiful coffee table style hard bound book written by Ross Chapin. Ross Chapin is an architect and long-time advocate for sensibly sized houses and vibrant neighborhoods. He leads an architectural and planning firm on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, Washington, where he has lived and worked since 1982.
This book covers modern day pocket neighborhoods across the country and includes the fascinating history of this type of neighborhood which Ross Chapin discovered while researching the book. The book is published by The Taunton Press in 2011.
What is a pocket neighborhood? Pocket neighborhoods are clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around some sort of shared open space — a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley — all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship. They can be in urban, suburban or rural areas.
These are settings where nearby neighbors can easily know one another, where empty nesters and single householders with far-flung families can find friendship or a helping hand nearby, and where children can have shirttail aunties and uncles just beyond their front gate.
What Kind of People are interested in Pocket Neighborhoods? All kinds! Singles, Empty-Nester Couples, Families, the ‘Great Generation’, Baby Boomers, Gen-X and Y, Millennials — anyone who wants to live in a close, tight-knit neighborhood.
Is zoning an issue for pocket neighborhoods? Most towns and cities have zoning regulations that limit housing to detached, single family homes on large private lots with a street out front. Forward-thinking planners are seeing pocket neighborhoods as a way to increase housing options and limit sprawl, while preserving the character of existing neighborhoods.
From my perspective as the editor of the Tiny House Blog I see this as an option for a tiny house community. Ross Chapin has built several pocket neighborhoods using small cottages and I see this as an opportunity for a similar situation using tiny homes. Can you imagine a community built with Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses nestled in a corner of a town or in a more rural setting beside a lake? Or how about a cluster of Scott Stewart’s Slabtown Custom Homes in a similar situation in Arkansas? Something to think about…
You can learn more about Ross Chapin and his work at his website called Ross Chapin. He has also opened a new website and blog dedicated to Pocket Neighborhoods with a lot more information that covers many questions regarding this great idea.