Re: "Gawkers" at cohousing communities (FWD)
From: Fred H Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 95 09:04 CST
Martin Tracy MTRACY [at] IX.NETCOM.COM is the author of this message but
due to a listserv problem it was posted by the COHOUSING-L sysop.
Rob Sandelin writes:

>The Commons aspect of cohousing is very analogous to the commons 
>concept of a condominium.  It is not common to everyone, only common to 
>the homeowners.  If you are not a homeowner then the commons does not 
>apply. It is private property held by a group ownership rather than a 
>single owner. Group ownership does not imply nor should be considered 
>by others to be public ownership.  A street is implied to be public 
>ownership.  The walkway of the interior of a condominium is considered 
>private ownership.  The example you give of visiting Winslow is a good 
>one in that their interior walkway is not in any way a public road and 
>that is very obvious from the layout.

>One way to look at this is that Cohousing is private property 
>development done cooperatively by a group of people.  It is not a 
>public project in the sense of a city park. The public  is welcome in 
>some cohousing groups by invitation only.  If you don't have an invite, 
>you are trespassing on private property.  I think it would be 
>irresponsible and rude to ignore this just because  you are involved in 
>a cohousing group.  That does not give you right of trespass.  If a 
>cohousing group wants visitors by invitation only, and you disrespect 
>that, then you run the risk of getting asked to leave.    The only way 
>you will know how a group feels about uninvited visitors is to call 
>them and ask.  The phone numbers of contact people in existing groups 
>can be found in the cohousing journal and can be reproduced on this 
>forum if anyone asks.

Trespassing on private property is certainly illegal, but enforceable 
only if the property is marked with "No Trespassing!" signs.  If this is 
the way the community feels, the signs should be posted, especially if 
there is no obvious demarcation with the surrounding community.  Barbed 
wire would also help convey this message.

The whole issue of private property is an interesting one.  Skandinavian, 
from which cohousing sprang, has quite a different idea.  

"Jedermannsrett" guarantees that any citizen has the right to travel and 
to camp on any property, anywhere, following normal rules of common 
courtesy.  Examples of common courtesy: camping no closer than 100 yards 
from a building, not staying in one place more than one night, chatting 
with the owner/resident about your visit.

This is quite a refreshing change from the coast of Southern California 
and the coast of Maine.  You can travel miles along these coasts with 
absolutely no way to get to the ocean, except by trespassing.  Living a 
block away doesn't help.  Litigation and liability have locked up just 
about all the natural hot springs in Southern California, too.

Too bad we live in a fearful, litigous society.  Even cohousing groups 
seem fearful of strangers in their "village".  This is progress?

Speaking of fear, I've often wondered why so many message machines answer 
with "You've reached 123-4567.  We're not here right now..."  The 
explanation I get is that people are <afraid> of random burglars calling 
random (unlisted) numbers to see if someone is home.  If that person 
answers, "Hi, you've reached Martin Tracy..." do you think the burglar 
will be able to convert that into an address?  How about, "Hi, you've 
reached Martin and Mardi..."?

It seems a small matter, but by answering with a number rather than a 
name, we depersonalize the world a little bit because of fear.  
Furthermore, the first time a friend calls that number, he will know he 
has reached the right number, but not necessarily the right person. 

Martin Tracy
mtracy [at]

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.