Re: cohousing-L = Problem solving / Post article/ Life in...
From: Fred H Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 94 20:36 CDT
On Fri, 26 Aug 94 18:39 CDT, 
Deborah Behrens  <debbeh [at] Auto-trol.COM> wrote:

>> Date: Fri, 26 Aug 94 13:38 CDT
>> Subject: cohousing-L = Problem solving
>> ...  But it does give a very biased view of cohousing - we don't
>> spend a lot of time repeating the joys, the benefits, the reasons why we do
>> this.  So for a newcomer, or a reporter, it is very unbalanced.  Does anyone
>> but me think it would be useful to put some such disclaimer in the stuff that
>> goes to new subscribers?  And/or post it frequently  (now that we are on
>> Gopher?)
Propose some verbage and I'll put it in.  I'm overdue for updating the 
welcome message that's sent out. I have a considerably updated version 
that I have not asked Jon to install yet - its a manual process; I avoid 
having him do often.  The revision has ref to Cohsousing Mag and 
some verbage inspired by the inappropriate ad controversy.  Anyone
who'd like to review it before I have it installed should send me a note
to get a copy.

Continuing, Debbie said:
>The Denver Post articles did focus on more of the negatives than the 
>tho they brought up some valid points - financing and lack of ethnic diversity.
>The author did seem to totally misunderstand the concepts of sharing work - 
>cooking group meals and community work parties aren't externally imposed 
>but are willingly shared responsibilities.  
>Also, cohousing is not an attempt to return to a fantasy 50's era - 
or is it???

[Note the article refered to was written by Dan Pacheco, new email 
[address: PACHECOD [at]  and appeared in the Denver Post on 
[Thur. July 7, 1994 on page 1 of the 'Living' section.  The way I pasted 
[it up it runs 4  8.5 x 11 pages (original type font size and the 
[equivalent of about one page of the 4 is taken by three pictures.
[  Debbie Behrens attempted to get permission to post the article here
[but was turned down - thanks for trying Debbie.  Debbie has also
[>offered to supply hard copy reprints. (Many takers?)
[BTW in correspondence earlier in Aug. with Dan he advised against 
[unauthorized posting of such material in case the lawyers happened to 
[decide to make a test case out of such an infraction.  Then he continued:
[>   BTW, you may convince the Post by telling them that you want to
[>electronically post articles to this CONTROLLED mailing list (I would
[>call it an electronic newsletter - they won't know the difference), and
[>be sure to give them the circulation number. That will distinguish it
[>from the Internet, which to them meansm "I'm going to give this story to
[>25 million people free so that they won't have to pay 25 cents for the
[>What do you think, Debbie?

Back to the subject at hand:

Funny, when I read that article it did not strike me as unduely focusing
on the negatives etc.  Guess I'll have to go back and reread it.  It was
candid about some of the problems but then, I've heard Judy in candid.
reflections make similar comments.  Could you (Bill and Debbie) provide 
some specific quotes to support your critique of Dan's article?  

A more full quote from the article: 
"Cohousing,a trend that has garnered national media attention, requires 
that residents share everything from meals to childcare, depending on each 
other in a way that is nostalgic of the fantasy 1950's-era neighborhoods 
of Andy Griffith and the Beaver."

That does not exactly say cohousing IS a an attempt to return to a 
fantasy 50's era.  The use of the verb "requires" unfortunately can be 
misinterpreted that there are some onerous rules governing behavior.

Further on down, the article phrases similar sentiments differently:
"Neighbors watch each other's children and often interrupt their daily 
routine for 15-minute chats.  Most cohousers, like Nyland resident Lisa 
Sydow, say that's the best part of the bargain.  The informal contact is 
wonderful," Sydow said."

BTW Dan also said earlier this month in that private email:
>   Glad you found the article of use.  Some accused me of shabby reporting;
>oh well, you can never please everyone. It would probably be a shocker to
>them that I think co-housing is a good and novel idea that just needs
>some ironing out (what doesn't?), and journalists aid in that process by
>keeping people on their toes.  Ones thing's for sure: despite the problems,
>it's a helluva lot better than out-of-touch suburbia.  (I didn't include
>that in my article because -- well -- nobody said it. I guess they were
>tired of talking to the press.)

Lets face it getting cohousing built is difficult and problematic.
It never occured to me that this list should be a promotional,
cheerleader type of outlet tho I suppose someone stopping by could get the 
wrong impression.  By analogy, as an avid computer user, I rarely bother to 
watch "Computer Chronicles" on public TV because of it's cheerleader 
quality and lack of any critical perspective.  I think the McCammant and 
Durret book understates the problems of cohousing by its tone a little bit
even. (Way back when someone on the list described the book as "hype" 
which disturbed me till I found out what she meant.)

Debbie said:
>The Washington Post had an excellent article by Susan Cohen on 
July 31, 1984 - or maybe I just think it's excellent because it's very 
>positive, while including the downs as well as the ups in the process 
>of getting to community.

1994 ?  Should we try Dan's tack in requesting permission to post it?
Any volunteers; anybody in DC maybe?

>I like Judy's thoughts about discussing some of the positive aspects during
>list conversations.  And putting disclaimers in the list once in a while...
>Mostly we're conversing here to problem solve, brain storm, etc, 
>so of course most of what we see are the negatives and the problem spots.  
>But being able to get together this way and air our different points of view 
>and experiences is a positive part of the cohousing experience in itself.  

The newsgroup ** has a tradition of articles with subject lines 
like "Cute things they say - 4yo - baby kittens"  that relate anecdotes
that are examples of the "joys of parenthood".  A quick check
of m.k (which I have not read much for a long time -- talk about info 
overload...) seems to indicate that they have taken to abbreviating
"Cute things they say" to CTTS (and CTTD "do" ) 
Recent examples:
CTTS 22 months (what you hammer in eventually is remembered)
CTTD Overachiever             
My sensitive one-year-old (CTTD)

I'd suggest we start a generic series:
Life in cohousing - <fill in this with some ref>
The first part of the title could be used over and over - maybe
becoming so common we abbreviate it.

Ok, you folks who live in cohousing, now it's your turn.

** BTW (I'll stop soon) any subscribers here who might want
to post something there like "Cohousing - the place to raise kids"
with a little promo for us?  If so, just do it or write me.


Fred H. Olson   fholson [at]   (612)588-9532  Amateur radio: WB0YQM
1221 Russell Av N, Minneapolis, MN  55411    |  Twin Cities Freenet  | 
Sysop of COHOUSING-L listserv & gopherspace: |  (under development)  |  or via EDIN gopher in Calif  |   info on request     |47L
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