Pocket neighborhoods are groups of neighboring houses or apartments that are gathered around a shared, open space. This space may be a garden courtyard, a pedestrian road, or a series of combined backyards. These can be in urban or rural areas, and the idea is that neighbors are easily able to get to know each other. It’s a community that still maintains the belief that “it takes a village to raise a child.”
Think of a pocket neighborhood as a neighborhood within a neighborhood. It’s not a large expanse of hundreds of homes with webs of streets, where neighbors are strangers. Residents in a pocket neighborhood have a shared interest in the common areas, and it becomes a communal effort to maintain them. There are some impressive benefits of living in such a community.
Many neighborhoods have a neighborhood watch program that helps guard against burglary and helps keep children safe. In pocket neighborhoods, the neighbors communicate more and in turn, that makes the community safer when it comes to strangers entering the community. Children are able to safely play in the communal areas because there are multiple sets of eyes ensuring their safety.
Shared Buildings and Gardens
Some communal areas have a shared tool shed. With a community built so closely together, there really isn’t a need for everyone to purchase rakes, lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other garden tools. The communal tool shed allows people to use what they need and return it.
With more emphasis being placed on the “grow your own food” movement, communal gardens can be created and neighbors can collaborate. With each neighbor helping grow different fruits and vegetables, it allows the stress of a large-scale garden falling on any one member of the community.
Some communities may opt to create a communal building offering a gathering space for potlucks, exercise groups, or movie nights. There are communities that choose to create children’s rooms, which gives the kids a place to play sheltered from the elements during cold or wet seasons.
In today’s fast-paced world, many people are losing their sense of belonging. With homes spaced further out, people can be subject to a sense of seclusion. The architect who created the idea of pocket home communities, Ross Chapin, recognized this. When people feel as though they belong, they flourish — and in turn, the community will flourish. Humans by nature are social creatures, and a sense of belonging can affect motivation and persistence on difficult tasks in life. Community can help bring back a much-needed sense of belonging.