Re: "Gawkers" at cohousing communities
From: Jim Snyder-Grant (
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 95 08:16 CST
One of New View's primary goals was to be a part of the larger Acton community. 
Part of New View's deal with the town of Acton is for us to build a sidewalk 
from our site to the village center, 1/2 mile away. Our site plan has an 
extension of this sidewalk go right to the common house. So, I expect we will 
get casual  curious visitors. We've often taked about a bulletin board, near 
the entrance to the common house, that among other things would help orient 
visitors. At the same time, I'm pretty sure we will develop the sort of radar 
for strangers that Rob mentions: "Hi, can I help you?" doesn't need to be an 
unfriendly thing to say, but it does help establish a difference, a friendly 
boundary, - 'I live here, and you don't, and I'm going to check you out'. I 
figure we will end up with some sort of monthly or so open house system to keep 
from being overwhelmed. I also expect that during times when few or no people 
are around that the common house wil be locked. But I also expect that people 
will drive  up to New View & look around.Our entrance looks initially like 
other suburban developments, and it's part of the culture around here for 
people to drive around & check out new developments, including getting out of 
the car & walking around on the streets & sidewalks.

A philosophical discursion: I recently finished 'Seven American Utopias', 
recommended on this list a few months ago. One of the points there was that 
these revolutionary utopian communities always had gates & clear boundaries. It 
was important to the people living there that they had a way to keep visible 
their group's specialness: they saw themselves as better than, and apart from, 
the rest of the nation. Cohousing, New View style, has some of that, but only 
as an undercurrent. If we see ourselves as part of a 'movement', (which only 
some of us do), I'd describe it instead as a suburban reform movement, designed 
to suggest and allow for neighborly adjustments in how people live in suburbia, 
with a friendly message of: "here, we did this, you can too". 

On the other hand, we decided not to put any guest rooms in the common house. 
Visitors for more than one day will need to make a private deal with a 
household to stay there. I suppose we will end up with some way to help people 
who contact the community for a visit to get hooked up with households that 
have an interest in having visitors.

-Jim_Snyder-Grant [at]
(current move-in dates for our community range from May to November, 1995)

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