Re: Density, detached vs attached
From: vicky de monterey (
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 95 19:03 CST
Eric Hart said:
> > Trying to dispell the old 
> >single family detached house myth is important to me but I hit a brick 
> >wall when I try start any kind of discussion about it.  Its like trying 
> >to tell someone that their car isn't good for the environment.  
> >Alternatives don't even enter their consciousness. 
> >     I would be interested to know if other groups have tried to deal 
> >with these issues and what the results have been.  Riverside is a rural 
> >site so land considerations aren't very relevant (they have a 10-20 acre 
> >building site).  If there was only 3 or 5 acres available, then I could 
> >see where there wouldn't be a lot of room for debate (you would have to 
> >use attached units to fit all the units in).  I do know that there some 
> >cohousing communities that have more than a few acres so I would be 
> >interested to know if this issue even came up.  
> >
> >Eric Hart
> >harte [at]
> Eric,
> At Nyland, we have 42 clustered units on 42 acres. That leaves most of the
> land as open space, common areas, etc.  We have a mix of single-family,
> duplex, and triplex buildings.  People chose what they wanted on whatever
> basis made sense to them.  I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong,
> but of the 42 units, I believe we have six that are single detached units.
> One of the great benefits of cohousing is, of course, that the community
> designs what it wants to have.  If your community wants to have some single
> and some attached homes, why not have both?
> Jean Pfleiderer
> Publications Specialist III
> University Management Systems
> University of Colorado

Eric, Jean, et al:
The issue appears much more basic to me -- either living lightly on the land
is important to the group from the beginning, or it's not. 

I'm a bit surprised that responsible caretaking of the land is not a 
more unifying and universal idea, since it is one of two major reasons 
why I want to be involved in cohousing. (the other is intentional 
community for spiritual and emotional benefit.) What IS holding groups together
if not such basic values? After the call for values statements, I thought
the response was rather slight. After I get permission, I will hopefully
be able to share the values statement of a group I much admire and hope to
join, which includes very prominently the goal of living lightly.

If people have joined a group before this value enters the discussion, 
of course there will be conflicts. North Americans are used to thinking 
in terms of single family dwellings being more private, more luxurious, 
more valuable to own than multi-family dwellings. If people have not 
learned for themselves the benefits to themselves and to the earth of 
conservation of land and resources, and are not open to these ideas, 
there must be a compromise that will reflect the values of the existing 
group (i.e. both single-family and multi-family dwellings). 

For myself, the commitment to cohousing includes my commitment to coexist
more carefully with the rest of the biosphere, and the small sacrifice of
some loss of privacy, or even of lower home value (if this is truly the case),
is more than compensated for in closer community and in savings of materials 
and energy (hey! and money). Since this is my approach going in,
I would never join a group that didn't echo my commitment about this issue.

Yes, I'm a perennial idealist. Aim high, fall short and be reasonably happy.

        Vicky de Monterey
        dryad [at]

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