Re: Security at cohousing
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 95 11:19 CST
Martin wrote:

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

I agree it is too bad, but in my view of American Society, it is 
seriously in trouble, violent crazy people have few restrictions on 
terrorizing people, and random acts of violence seem to be escalating 
exponentially.  Two kids got shot at school yesterday in Seattle.  At 
school!  Ten years ago this was unheard of.  Ten years from now will it 
be so common that we are desensitized to it?  I will freely admit I am 
very afraid of violence to my family, especially my daughters,  and 
that is one of many reasons I live where I do.  I am not comfortable 
with strangers in my community and my neighbors are not either. 
(although there are new members since we last talked about this so it 
may not be totally a community wide thing).

Two summers ago there was a stranger walking around our community who 
was described as having a  very, dark intense look (I can't explain it 
any better than that but three other members, all who were women,  
called him "creepy looking").  When he was approached by a community 
member he responded in a way that was suspicious to the member and he 
(the stranger)  immediately left.  He was seen a couple days later in 
his car parked outside the community.  He was waved at, and he drove 
off fast, squealing his tires.  I was not part of any of this, just 
heard about it.  It was agreed by those at dinner that night that this 
was odd enough to get his license number and report it to the Sheriffs 
Dept. He has not been seen since.

Now, maybe this is an example of two different things.  Maybe, since 
his appearance was a little scary he was approached in such a way that 
made him feel unwelcome and made an excuse and left.  Or maybe he was 
up to some unwelcome purpose of his own, caught out and left.  I will 
never know. I am glad he was approached, in that I was out of town on 
vacation and hearing about "creepy looking" strangers standing in front 
of my house when I am gone makes me uncomfortable.

Many months ago I had some guests over for an evening.  A van which I 
didn't recognize drove up, and backed into one of my neighbors parking 
areas next to their house. I knew my neighbors were gone for the 
weekend so  I excused myself from my guests, and walked over to see 
what was going on.  As I was approaching Bob's house from one side, 
another neighbor, who had seen the same thing, was approaching from the 
other.  It turned out the van was delivering something from church to 
Bob's garage.

I bring up these two examples to give the viewpoint that when neighbors 
know each other well, know each others lives, and care about each 
other, strangers are going to get noticed and talked to.  Not because I 
have any particular fear of any particular stranger but because I care 
about my neighbors and I want to look out after them.

I would also point out that, in my opinion,  this is the highest and 
best form of personal security.  Given the state of American Society, I 
personally view this as progress.  If every place in America had the 
same sense of ownership, contact with the neighbors, and caring about 
each other that exists in  cohousing groups, it would make it almost 
impossible for much of the criminal activity which thrives in anonymity 
to occur.

Rob Sandelin
Puget Sound Cohousing Network
Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

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