Re: Cohousing, Communes, Comm...
From: BM.Vornbrock (
Date: Thu, 26 May 94 15:41 CDT
Interesting thread here...  I want to point out a notable exception
to the warning imbedded in 3 & 4 from Empathy [at] ....

There is an area in the Basque autonomous region of Spain called Mondragon.
It is notable for two reasons: (1) because a major portion of the economy is
supported by a group of producer cooperatives that run the gamut from 
banks to computer services to refrigerators to ....  
The only significant exception seems to be doctors.  
                        - and -
(2) this cooperative culture, which reminds me of some of the community
    aspects of cohousing, handily survived the death of its founder.

It was started shortly after World War II by Don Jose Maria (excuse any
mis-spellings and the obvious lack of accents).  Don Jose was exceptional
because he was not a charismatic, strong leader who suppressed other
aspirants to leadership.  Instead he supported the development of
responsible, adult relationships among the various cooperatives, helped
them define or uncover the rules of the road and acted often as a cheerleader.

While some students of Mondragon suggest that it can not be replicated
outside the cultural boundaries it grew in, other research indicates that
it might be translated successfully.  My personal, lay-person's opinion
is that it probably hinges on these intra- and inter- personal
   a balance of self awareness, self honesty, self sacrifice, selfishness
   a mixture of group committment to consensus, cooperation and community
   a liberal dose of patience, humor and much stamina
   a scholar (Don Jose) who persuades and envisions and enlightens
   an inter-related set of groups who are unwilling to depend on _A_ leader

Not much there, huh?  Note though, that Mondragon started as about an 8 person
cooperative and now employs over 30,000 in 50+ companies.  There are a lot
of checks, balances and wisdom they've built over the last 45 years.

Anyone interested in a bit of semi-dry reading that is very interesting
is encouraged to find "The Mondragon Experiment".  I'm afraid I can't 
remember the author but it is currently in print.  Anyone who has trouble
finding it is welcome to eMail me and I will dig up the ISBN/author.

> re: can a cohousing group survive the death of its original leaders:
> i suggest that the analogy is identical to that of a charasmatic groupand
> there is a lot written to explore that type of group...
> 1: a charasmatic leader forms a group ,usually one with a "new" idea
>     or way of doing the leader's mind it is the fact that what
>     they are doing is "new"  that is what is important.
> 2:the group grows and newcomers embrace the new plan for a     multitude of
> reasons, and...(this is the important part)>> the     original leaders ways
> become they are now     important to do because they are
> what the leader did and not     because they are new and on the cutting edge.
> 3: the original charasmatic leader dies and the group meets a crisis:
>     there is rarely a significant replacement, and what almost always
>     happens is that the orriginal ways of the charasmatic leader that
>     became  traditions are called upon to form a focus of the group
>     around which it may continue.  
> 4: unfortunately in the process, the group is now following the
>     "traditions" of the original leader which that leader NEVER     intended
> to be traditions or to be followed for very long. the original     leaders
> wanted these practices to be a start of an ever changing,
>     updating process that would keep up with the times, but now the     group
> will stagnate in them.
> 5: if the group survived this far needless to say yes it has continued,
>     but probably in a form that the founders would revile.

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