RE: An alternative to the coho dev. ordeal
From: Nancy Wight (
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 13:26 CST
> I think having a traditional developer is not going to work well.  I doubt 
> that
> the results will have much of the look & feel of Cohousing.
> It's important for (the core) community to go through the growth process
> together, learning how to resolve issues, and make compromises without going
> ballistic.

I have to agree with Jim here.  Katie McCamant was asked this very
question in one of the issues of the Cohousing newsletter, and she
said something like, it may be a development but it's not cohousing.
I think the concept of using a developer to help secure land and
run the project is potentially a good one.  The problems with this
are as Jim stated above, plus: 

1) I have never met a devloper in this area who has the sensitivity and
social/group process skills necessary to work with a cohousing group.  This
is a very specialized kind of group and it requires someone with lots of
group process knowledge and skills to pull it off successfully. (It helps
ALOT if the architect has these kinds of skills as well!)

2) Once a developer gets involved, she/he tends to treat the project
as HER/HIS project, hence a power struggle ensues.  From talking to
Chris Hanson and others, I have heard this was a problem with some of 
the groups who used developers.

3) Every group develops its OWN personality, and as the group develops,
the needs of that particular group become clearer.  To try and retrofit
a group into an existing development, would, in my opinion, reduce
the group cohesiveness.

There is a company in the area (Watertown MA)  doing just this - looking for 
core groups to build cohousing communities for.  They claim they can do
it in two years.  It's too early to tell whether they will be successful
or not. 

>In my opinion, it's much more feasible to start out with 6-12 families, and
> plan for growth.  This way, newcomers are welcome, and a lengthy - getting to
> know - process with one newcomer at a time helps keep the continuity.

We found that starting out small and building a good foundation was
very important.  You need to make a lot of major decisions about the
scope and vision of the community while it is still possible, then
get others to join who agree with the basic principles of the group.
6-12 is a good number.  We started out with 7 and grew in stages.

- Nancy 
New View, Acton MA

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