RE: Cohousing, Communes, Community--Not for Profit! Please
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Wed, 25 May 94 12:04 CDT
 Pablo Halpern  wrote in response to a thread about developer designed 

>The problem with developers creating "cohousing" is that of establishing the
>cooperative culture.  As Stuart Staniford-Chen has already said, strangers
>moving into such a development are at the very beginning of the cohousing
>process and may fail to truly develop a community.  When potential members
>approach our group, we let them know about the hard work expected of them in
>the process of developing the community.  Will the first residents of a
>developer-created "cohousing community" be told the same thing?

This is where the whole idea of expectations plays the key role.  If 
the cultural image of cohousing is one where people work together, eat 
dinner together, and share resources to create a cooperative community 
then the cooperative culture is defined by those people making those 
expectations into their reality.  The key is broadly establishing the 
cultural image of cohousing so that consumers who want that lifestyle 
can tell the difference.  Its like knowing the difference between a 
mountain bike and a touring bike. If I want a mountain bike, I look for 
certain attributes that define it as a mountain bike and won't buy it 
at all if it doesn't have those attributes.  Housing is a much much 
more scrutinized thing and people who want cooperative housing will 
quickly see through false advertising IF THEY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.  
That is the key,  defining the cohousing difference.

In my opinion it is also not an either / or thing.  You can have a 
little amount of cooperation or a whole lot.  Even a little bit is 
better than none.  If cohousing becomes the national marketing housing 
trend, I personally don't care if every development forms a true 
community. Even a little bit of working together cooperatively is a 
great place to start and starting small and working up to more 
cooperation seems to be a good beginning, especially if the tools and 
processes are easily accessible.

Why can't every housing development have some social design built into 
it? Even if todays residents aren't interested maybe tomorrow's will be 
and it is up to us, the pioneers who are going whole hog in cooperative 
endeavor to show the rest of the country the benefits and strengths of 
what we are doing. Even if only a small amount of it is adopted, in my 
opinion, that is great progress.

If I had say 100 grand to spend I'd put full page color ads describing 
cohousing in magazines like Ladies home journal and Redbook.  The more 
we can get into the mainstream culture and show the benefits and sanity 
of living cooperatively the better.  Again, not everyone will go whole 
hog, but even if they do only get together with their neighbors once a 
year, that is a starting place. The trick is to make them want it, and 
I think that is where the imagery of advertising can be used to its 
full effect to make people realize that their isolated, estranged 
reality is no longer good enough.  Once that happens, developers will 
start changing the way they create housing and that will benefit 
everyone, whether they call it cohousing or not.

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