Re: Intentional Communities vs. Cohousing
From: Larry Israel (
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 94 00:56 CDT
Hi, everyone.  I'm Larry Israel of Puget Ridge Cohousing in Seattle.  For
the past several months I've been thoroughly enjoying cohousing-l's
wonderful blend of practical information from people living in cohousing
already (and others), with philosophical musings on the meaning of 
cohousing. (The following message falls into the latter category).

By the way, major congratulations and celebrations are occurring:  
8 households closed and moved in to Puget Ridge last month, and 11 more
households (including my own) and the common house are scheduled to
close/open next week!  The final 4 units are due to close in early Sept.,
I think.  HOORAY! 


On Mon, 11 Jul 1994, Sandy Bodzin wrote:

>     Can anyone please explain the difffernece between an intentional
> community and a cohousing community?  

To me, there are several key differences between intentional communities
and cohousing communities: 

1. Intentional communities usually have some sort of economic base that is
shared; some sort of communal means of support, or partial support.  Not
so with cohousing, at least not yet. 

2. Intentional communities usually have either a shared philosophy, shared
religious/spiritual beliefs and practices, and/or a single central leader.
Cohousing communities usually have none of these.  Therefore, cohousing
communities are usually not concerned that their members have similar
views, beyond some very loosely defined values.  The process of new member
"selection" is therefore less rigorous, less controlled, in cohousing. 
Usually the process is one of "self-selection", in other words anyone who
wants to can join. 
3. Cohousing has more extensive private spaces than most intentional
communities, with each household (or family) having their own complete
housing unit.  This is usually not the case within intentional

I admit that I am making some major generalizations in the above
descriptions, particularly of intentional communities, and that, as has
been well stated in other responses on this topic, intentional communities
are quite diverse -- more diverse in type and character, so far, than are
cohousing communities.  Will there be as many types of American cohousing
communities 25 years from now as there are intentional communities today?
Also, I agree with Till Houtermans (July 13) that cohousing has attempted
to distance or dissociate itself from intentional communities (a.k.a. 
communes) because of the negative ways in which the latter are viewed by
the mainstream society.  I agree with Rob Sandelin that there is a lot
that we cohousers can learn from intentional communities.  And I agree
with Judy Baxter (July 12) that cohousing is a subset, one type of
intentional community (I like the term "intentional neighborhood"),
although cohousing is a form of intentional community with some important
differences from others. 

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.