political/exclusive cohousing
From: Jim Slotta (JDSST17vms.cis.pitt.edu)
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 94 16:41 CDT
I guess I've become hooked by this discussion.  When the rebuttals become 
well- enough nested, though, it becomes difficult to tell who is saying what.

I think it was Chris Biow who said that a politically biased community's 
probability of *survival* decreases with respect to the probability of
cohousing in general, presumably tbecause the joint probability (of cohousing
plus political correctness) can only be lower than the probability of cohousing
without politics.

So, it sounds like communities with a political bias or mission are less likely
to succeed in the long run than communities with completely open membership 
criteria.  But our intuitions cry out against this conclusion; what gives?

Prehaps there is no such thing as a non-political community.  You can 
barely find a non-political neighborhood in this country; when you try to take 
that neighborhood and squeeze it even more tightly into a cohousing situation, 
it may just never work without some common vision of the community's
identity (including purpose or mission, if there is any).  Perhaps people's 
views simply must be in alignment, at least to some extent, for cohousing
to succeed.  So the "base-rate probability" argument may be purely 

What people from successful (so far) cohousing efforts seem to be saying is 
that  some *limited common denominator*, clearly defined and rigidly
expressed, is best for all concerned.  The word "limited" here is meant to say
that it may be lower than the highest common denominator: just because every
single person in the core group has some value (for example, with respect to
gun control) doesn't mean that they have to include this value in their vision
statement for the community.  Likewise, the "lowest common denominator"
may be too low: just because a person wants to live in a cohousing community
may not be enough for him/her to fit in with this one.

A question all of this has raised for me is: should there be provisions made
at the outset for the community's "vision statement" to change/evolve?  If 
this process isn't somehow formalized, it seems a foregone conclusion that 
it will happen informally in response to changing culture and values.  Look 
at the issues of gun control, homosexuality, eco-sensitivity, drug use, etc. 
Many of our most important issues today would not even have been
considered by community founders 20 yearsago.  We can probably expect
similar social change as we enter the 21st century (and beyond).   Our
country's government has been able to survive some of the major social
changes in the past 200 years because fairly clear mechanisms of adjustment
were put into place early in the process.

- Jim Slotta 

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