Re: How Diverse is Co-Housing, Really?
From: apguirard (apguirardmmm.com)
Date: Mon, 3 May 93 13:08 CDT
Jim Baranski, the busy questioner of the cohousing mailing list, writes:

> Diversity is one of the key principles of Co-Housing.  Groups with a
> strong agenda in the past have been more communal then co-housing.
> On the other hand, many co-housing groups seem to have strong
> ecological values.

_I_ think diversity is an important part of cohousing, and I'm sure that
the other members of TRG would agree, but I don't think that is a generally
accepted thing.  A while back, for instance, there was discussion in this
room regarding a proposed women-only community. And, too, as you've noted
there are certain groups where people aren't welcome who don't hold certain
philosophies regarding humankind's relationship to the environment.
Because the members of the group can select who will be allowed in, and
because in a group that runs by concensus anyone can veto, that guarantees
that a cohousing community will be diverse only if the people who start it
value diversity.

In fact, someone was asking recently on a local electronic bulletin board
about David Koresh's compound and whether that didn't qualify as cohousing
of a sort.  I posted a reply admitting there were certain similarities and
pointing out the differences (a single person in charge, the collection of
automatic weapons, etc).

> Are there other alternative values common in co-housing groups?
> Would people interested in nudism, or with non-monogamous or
> non-hetrosexual orientations be more welcome in your co-housing
> group then in mainstreem society, or in co-housing groups in general?

I can't speak for cohousing groups in general, but if I can answer for TRG
the answer is "yes".  Without getting into details I will say that our
current membership includes people with "alternative" values such as you
mention.

In another way, cohousing is self-limiting in terms of diversity because it
only attracts the sort of people who are interested in cohousing. Kathryn
McCamant gave a talk here a while back in which a question was posed,
regarding the number of non-white residents of cohousing in the United
States -- seems there aren't many. McCamant's theory was that (first)
cohousing was a mainly upper middle class phenomenon and so there were (as
yet) relatively fewer people of other races in a position to look into it,
and (second) that cohousing is a way of replacing a feeling of community
that other ethnic groups in the U.S. don't feel a need to replace, because
they never lost it.

Incidentally, if you have a chance to hear McCamant talk, you should go --
it was a very nice talk.

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