Cohousing and the future: training leaders
From: Fred H Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Wed, 4 May 94 08:47 CDT
Message author: Rob Sandelin <robsan [at]>
Posted by the COHOUSING-L sysop.

I had a very interesting and stimulating discussion last night at 
community dinner with a visitor who is a student of sociology.  One of 
the things that came out in our discussion that I had never thought 
about before was the idea of Cohousing as leadership training.  As this 
discussion rolled around our common eating area several members noted 
that in virtually every organization, and  also within their work 
environment they tend to end up in leadership roles. We are not 
actually leaders in terms of being governors, or presidents of things, 
we are leaders with a small l, running the PTA, the local pre-school 
board, the local democratic caucus, etc.

I found that was true of myself, not because of any desire to run 
things, but that after several years of working with this group and 
refining our meeting process, I can't stand to sit through poorly run 
meetings and I end up "ghost facilitating" by asking for agendas, 
setting time limits on discussions, creating action items and 
deliverables and action plans, reviewing progress and summarizing.  
When you do that a few times, you end up being nominated to be the 
chair.  One of the commonalties we discovered is that even when several 
of us have declined leadership position we are the ones who get called 
by the leaders for council and advice.  It was very fascinating to 
watch this conversation unfold (one of the best things about community 
dinner) and see the connections being made.  My wife, who declined the 
presidents role in the PTA is constantly being called by the leadership 
for advice.  This same exact thing was related by four other neighbors 
with organizations they belong to!

Although they don't come to meetings much, our children also show 
similar leadership roles in school and in play and tend to be the 
peacemakers and instigators of cooperative play.

I never realized that so many of my neighbors hold so many leadership 
positions and it sparked a very inspiring discussion about how the 
cooperative values, negotiation and communication skills which are 
inherent in Cohousing are also very much the skills of leadership, and 
if we are the leaders, and our children are the leaders of the next 
generation, there really is hope for a saner world.

I wonder if the leadership phenomena we discovered last night holds 
true in other groups?
Fred H. Olson   fholson [at]     Sysop of COHOUSING-L mailing list
1221 Russell Av N; Minneapolis, MN 55411        voice: (612) 588-9532
WB0YQM  146.64 MHz with DTMF Selcall: 233 ;        FAX by arrangement

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