Cohousing Privacy vs. Openness
From: Don Maddox (
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 95 13:51 CST
I've read the various posts having to do with cohousing site privacy
and what proper etiquette is for visitors.  
I'm not yet in a cohousing site but am active with a cohousing
group in Santa Rosa, Ca.  At this time we call ourselves Acacia Lane
Cohousing since we are negotiating the purchase of land on Acacia Lane.

The previous posts have gotten me thinking about privacy and visitor
control will be an issue in my mind when we get around to planning our
site layout.  Hopefully we can design the entrances to our property to
subtly state that this is a private area and that those entering don't
have complete access rights.  I believe this is necessary to provide a
safe feeling environment for our community members, especially for the

Having said that I have reservations about getting too protective of
our site property.  I wouldn't want to give the impression to our
neighbors and the general populous outside our cohousing community that
we think of ourselves as an exclusive society separate from them.  I'm
really concerned about where this country is going and the many
problems that we face.  I'm a firm believer that one of the major
causes of crime and alienation between different segments of our
population has to do with the lack of community in our society.  The
concept that has been promoted over the years of the nuclear family
dwelling with a large fence separating you from your neighbors
promotes isolation between us as a society.  The fact that we have
gotten away from the small town concept with a central common area for
shopping and visiting with other town members I think promotes
separateness and promotes alienation between us.  Maybe I'm being a bit
idealistic but I feel that in promoting cohousing we are providing an
answer to some of the problems our society faces.  I don't want to
just expand my present isolation from society by swapping my single
family home with fence to 26 family homes with fence.

I'd be interested in hearing from others already in cohousing about
how we might lay our site out to give us some control over who enters
our grounds without creating a barrier from our neighbors and
promoting separateness from them. For example, I like the idea that
Rob mentioned that they use at Sharingwood of a bulletin board at the
entrance with instructions on how to set up tours.  I've heard of a
cohousing site that has a basketball court that the public can use
without asking which I think gives an open friendly message to
neighbors. If this kind of thing can be done without compromising the
privacy of the living areas and cohousing site common areas it sounds
like a great idea to me.

Privacy and security vs. openness to the general community seems to be
a delicate issue that needs to be well thought out.  Any other
suggestions you can give that haven't already been stated in our present
discussion would be appreciated.


Acacia Lane Cohousing
Santa Rosa, Ca

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