RE: the politics of co-housing
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 94 19:54:30 PST
Wm Leler  asks

>I guess what I'm trying to ask is whether co-housing is
>a housing concept where a bunch of people share some
>common space, common resources and perhaps a few meals, or
>if there is a political element to it which involves
>consensus and the establishment of values.

My answer to that question is....Yes.  It can, and often does mean both 
of those things. Also in reference to the developer building issue you 
raised, this is happening in many cohousing groups.  The thing that 
makes it work, or not work, is the commitment of the residents to each 
other.  Community is NOT the buildings, the commonhouse, the 
playground, the road. Community is the relationship and commitment of 
the people to each other.

It is through the development process, the give and take  meetings, the 
cooperation and communication where strangers become partners and maybe 
even close friends.  The whole point of cohousing is that you work 
together to accomplish your goals and through the process of working 
together you get to know each other really well. When you move into 
such a development, there are no strangers. ANd that is the primary 
difference between cohousing and a traditonal condo. A traditional 
condo can have all the same elements and not be a community.  Cohousing 
is community building. (Now of course the next question is what defines 
community....Groan...:}  )

Consensus is a decision making tool.  It is not required, but it is one 
of the better tools around for cooperative agreements.  It is a bad 
tool for making micro decisions such as what color the commonhouse 
bathroom tile should be.  Most groups use a variety of decision making 
tools as they progress through the  development process.

Whether values are stated openly, or inferred, they exist in 
cooperative housing ventures, even only to the level of being 
cooperative.  WHen you join a cooperative venture, you agree to 
cooperate, which is in itself a value.

Rob Sandelin
Puget Sound COhousing Network
 Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

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