Pioneers and Settlers: Different personalities within Cohousing
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Thu, 5 May 94 09:14 CDT
Stuart Staniford-Chen of N-St. Cohousing wrote:

>>>Having said that, in looking at how many of one's neighbors have leadership
roles, one should probably remember that people who are attracted to
Cohousing and willing to put the time into a long process are probably
not average people to begin with.

Yes indeed. I was talking with some other cohousers from Winslow about 
the difference even within cohousers between the "Pioneers" and the 
"Settlers".  The pioneers are the risk takers, they tend to be dynamic, 
leader types, doers and visionaries.  The people who come in later, 
after all the risk is over, or even after the project is built have a 
different dynamic to them.  They are more interested in social details 
than idealism issues, they are the intellectuals, the administrators.

There exists a very interesting dynamic within my own community between 
those of us who plunked down wheelbarrows of money and built houses 
before there was any legal individual property titles (The first house 
was built 5 years before individual title was created) and those who 
came after all the titles and bank stuff was secured and there was 
little risk.  The pioneers tend to be very  committed and who come to 
all the meetings and move much of the process, generating ideas and 
vision.  Those that came later into Sharingwood are much less involved, 
seem to care more about their property values, care less about group 
commitment and endeavors.

Most of the pioneer types saw creating Cohousing as an achievable 
dream, and we jumped at the chance to actualize our dreams. We stuck it 
out when things got sticky and ugly, worked out a process to cooperate 
in an egalitarian way and it is that journey we traveled that binds us 
together and provides the understanding, tolerance and care we have of 
each other.  Those that did not make that journey, don't share that 
connection, and it is a palpable difference in our relationships.

For example the other day in a group meeting I was facilitating I saw 
Nick give that little "face scrunch" he does when somebody says 
something that doesn't  jive with him.  I asked him for his thoughts 
and afterwards realized how well I know him to understand what that 
"face scrunch" means. He didn't ask to be called on, I just knew he had 
something to say...

One of my secret worries is that over time we will lose the fire, 
connection and commitment to each other we have and just become another 
suburban neighborhood, where people have little commitment to the group 
other than what is convenient for them and the ideals of individual 
growth, group cooperation, and working for what's best for the 
community become empty slogans which fade in the dust of self interest.

Community is not made up of buildings, or roads, or walkways and 
commons. It is the relationship between people who live together and 
their commitment to that relationship.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood Cohousing
Philosophizing again huh?

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