Cover Story: Houston's First Co-op, Definitely Not a Commune

Forget everything you thought you knew about co-ops. Houston's first has arrived, and it's not what you think.

Are you picturing a bunch of unwashed hippies prancing naked through a dirty, disintegrating house? You're probably thinking of a commune, an anarchistic, lawless community of -- essentially --squatters.

Few Houstonians are sure what a co-op actually is, since Houston managed to escape the co-op craze of hippie days. Technically, it's a group of people living together who share resources and chores, and abide by a set of rules determined by the group. Each member must cook for the group and do his or her assigned labor. Co-ops do usually have a hippie bent. But depending on the seriousness of the co-op, you could have more rules to follow than you did when you lived with your parents.

To further confuse H-town, the subjects of this week's cover story started no ordinary co-op.

They're a collection of clean-cut young professionals set on offering Houston a more environmentally sustainable way of living. A lawyer, an oil customer service rep -- hell, even a neuroscientist -- call Rosalie Haus in the Third Ward home. This is just the beginning, they say. The house has grand plans to open four more co-ops and a bunch of neighborhood amenities, including bike shops and a veggie-oil gas station.

But it's not easy being green. Houston doesn't quite know what to think of the batch of thirtysomethings living under one roof. Some are supportive, some are turned off and many others are just befuddled. So far, naysayers have managed to squelch the co-op's ideas for a community garden and bike shop.

Their location in the Third Ward is proving a difficult place to gain new recruits. Even the founder, Jay Blazek Crossley, is unsure if the co-ops will be a good or bad addition to the area.

Meanwhile, though, they're giving it the old co-op try. Read this week's cover story, "Our Haus," here.

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