|Intro to Stuart Staniford-Chen (N St Cohousing).||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Stuart Staniford-Chen (stuartslandau.ucdavis.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 1 May 94 17:03 CDT|
I thought I would introduce myself to the list as well. I've just subscribed and I'm really excited to discover the existence of this forum. I'm Stuart Staniford-Chen and I live in N St. Cohousing in Davis, CA. I'm not sure how familiar this group is with N St so I'll give a brief synopsis. Basically we are a cohousing community that has arisen by gradual evolution in the midst of 1950s tract houses in East Davis (the poorer student/rental end of town). We have now grown to 12 houses by a process of adding one house at a time as they happen to become available. The ownership structure is very diverse - some houses are owned by community residents, some by absentee landlords, and one by a collective of community residents. We have taken down the fences between the houses, and some of the yard space is communally controlled. We have half a common house - the largest house of the community has our community dining room, kitchen, and meeting room, but we rent the front of the house to tenants (who are also part of the community of course). We have some other community facilities such as laundry rooms, a woodshop, a sauna, and a small hot-tub. These are disbursed throughout the other houses in the community. We have a communally managed chicken yard. We eat community meals together two or three nights a week in the common house. Our decision making procedure is by consensus. We do have a provision for going though a sequence of meetings culminating in a decision by two-thirds majority; this is supposed to break a hopeless deadlock. In practice we have been able to reach consensus on everything eventually. Our decision making style is to hash things out in group meetings until we either agree in principle or run into deadlock. We then appoint an ad-hoc committee. In the first case they work out the details of the decision and report back. In the second case the committee consists of the most vigorous dissenters who meet to resolve their differences before bringing a proposal to the group. Sometimes decisions can be made solely in group meetings. We have two monthly meetings: one for long-term major decisions and vision issues (how big should we grow, how should we define membership in the community), the other for smaller operational decisions (where should the new community pans be stored, who should pay for chicken food). In general, comparing us to a virgin-site community such as Muir Commons, we are more scruffy, have poorer amenities, and have less satisfactory design (since so much is set by where the pre-existing houses are). We also have less stress, pay a lot less money and need to make less time commitment to keep the place going. Whether we are happier or not depends on who you ask. We are showing signs of gradual gentrification. A few years back there was a high annual turnover, with a lot of renters and students and co-operative houses. Now more of the houses are being bought by residents, and there is a gradual tendency towards lower densities and one nuclear family occupying each house. Correspondingly, more emphasis is being placed on landscaping and aesthetics. The income level in the community is gradually rising, and we are becoming more attractive to outsiders. It used to be difficult to find people to move in when a house or a room came free, but now there is always a list of candidates who would like to join. As to myself: I'm a graduate student in Computer Science. I'm originally from England but have been in the U.S for the last six years. I've lived in N-Street for 3 1/2 years. I run the community woodshop (which is in the garage of our house) and have various other responsibilities from time to time. I live with my wife Lynnette and a housemate - Jeff Hobson - who is one of the community's two co-treasurers. Lynnette and I initially moved in largely by chance - we were substantially ignorant of cohousing at the time, but found we liked it greatly after we joined. We live directly opposite from Kevin Wolf who has also just subscribed to this list (and who told me about it). He and I disagree about most everything ;-), but respect each other nonetheless (wouldn't you say Kevin?). Kevin and his wife Linda Cloud were the most instrumental people in beginning N-Street, and they own three of the houses (including the common house - they rent the community part of it to us). Nonetheless, they do not have any special leadership status within the community. I have a couple of neophyte questions about this group. About how long has the list been going, and how many subscribers are there? Are there any other cohousing resources on the internet (eg an anonymous ftp site) besides this list and the associated gopher site? Thanks for your time, Stuart Staniford-Chen.
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