Re: Cohousing, Communes, Community--Not for Profit! Please
From: Jim Slotta (JDSST17vms.cis.pitt.edu)
Date: Wed, 25 May 94 12:23 CDT
I'm in the middle of the Co, Com, Com - NFP-please discussion, and I just got 
to the point where one member suggested that it might be a better discussion
if the primary participants were to sit down together somewhere... 

I'm sure this was said in regards to their own process of interchange, but my
feeling (as an eavesdropper to the discussion) was that the discussion was
happening in a very appropriate place (not "the _next_ best thing!)

In any case, I think this has been a great "flood" of ideas, especially in the
sense that it has pinpointed at least one open question:

Does one need to go through the struggle/growth of building and establishing
community (the _process_ of community) in order to fully participate in its
sustenance and development?

If so, it seems like cohousing may be in trouble once it starts growing older.

An interesting anecdote:
Last year, I watched as a neighbor of mine "did" a fairly large veggie garden.
She worked the soil, designed the layout, built the beds, sprouted the seeds, 
watered, fertilized, etc.  The garden turned out wonderfully, and she did all
of this work knowing that she's be leaving town permanently in July (before
any real harvest - go figure).  I felt like I could appreciate the magnitude of
her achievement, and when she told me that I could "take it over" for her after
she was gone, I got a serious look on my face and said something like, "you
can count on me to look after it well"...  But for some reason (the heart of
this anecdote), I really didn't have enough identity with the garden to care
for it properly; and I didn't have enough invested in its overall development
to motivate me to go looking for answers when the bugs moved in, or the 
flowers started falling off.  Sure, I ate a bunch of tomatoes that year, but 
whose brow had that sweat really fallen from?

I don't want this to sound like simply another work ethic fable.  I think it
also includes a big factor of identity/ownership/commitment/covenant.

This year, I had to make a garden on the same plot.  I worked the soil, 
designed and build the beds, sprouted the seeds, planted, watered, fertilized,
etc.  And now I find myself going over there to look at it every day (sometimes
twice a day!) to make sure its doing alright.  I think my response patterns
will be different to this year's batch of garden plagues.

Anyways, enough said.  There's no way to answer an open question.  The 
scientific method says to develop testable hypotheses and then go ahead and 
test them...

My parents lived in an intentional community when I was young.  As I grew up,
I watched as new members gradually thinned out the energy of the house, 
challenged the process, changed the process, moved out, were replaced, etc.,
until eventually the original families started leaving because they could
no longer find the same meaning from it.  Many had given their etire adult
lives to the effort.  As a child/teenager, I remember feeling like this 
disintegration was primarily a consequence of the newcomers - many of whom were
riding the early edges of the "new age" wave, and seemed to have their hearts
in the right place, but just didn't have the identity required to weather out
serious storms.  Perhaps these perceptions were overly simplisitic, but I'm
sure that the lack of identity/commitment was at least a factor.

I thinl there's a real difference between "covenenant" and "commitment" (even
"serious commitment" - look at how many new marriages are simply abandoned).

Well, now I'm really getting off track.  Once again, I think this has been a 
great discussion.

- Jim Slotta (rainy day in the Steel City)

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