Re: shared walls, shared values
From: vicky de monterey (
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 95 22:47 CST
Eric Hart wrote: (and I like it so much I have reposted it!)

>   I definitely agree that a compact design saves people travel time
> and can enhance interaction.  At Riverside we were going to (and haven't
> done it yet) quantify how much per foot it would cost to significantly
> away from the majority of the development.  We would figure out the road
> costs, extra utility costs, and extra maintenance costs of living away
> from the majority of the development.  People choosing to live away from
> the development would have to pay the extra costs of services to their
> unit or do without them (i.e.  have a composting toilet instead of a flush
> toilet; independently generate your own electricity).  A few members of
> the group might go this way.  Another thing I would like to do is to
> quantify the economic and environmental costs of say a triplex vs a single
> family detached home.  This is a little more tricky, but can be done. 

And well worth the trouble, when issues of equity arises.

> Why does a shared wall design have to always be a townhouse?  I have seen
> many designs with shared walls that aren't even close to looking like a
> townhouse and fit into a rural setting very well.  Rick Peterson, the
> Riverside architect, has been designing 'low rise, high density'
> communities for many years and his designs fit well into a variety of
> situations.  Its not necessary that all walls be shared or that you have
> 10 or 15 in a row be connected.  Even one shared wall has significant
> benefits and doesn't detract from the 'single family character' of it very
> much.  I like designs that balance the benefits of shared walls with
> aesthetics and human scale.  

New designs for new values. Somehow the design world should be able to rise
to the need. If we simply continue to require it of them. Hint: architects
will not design, and brokers will not sell, what buyers do not require.
They don't call it supply and DEMAND for nothing.

>        I doubt that shared walls would impact property values that much. 
> The way they are divided into units and or lots (condo vs individual lots)
> would probably impact the banks opinion of its risk.  People may avoid
> shared walls in a housing unit because those type of units don't sell well
> in their area.  This is due to the prejudice of buyers, not the inherant
> characteristics of the unit. 
>         My philosophy is very similiar to that of Vicky's.  

No wonder I like this post!

> I want to
> belong to a cohousing group that acknowledges and acts on ecological
> concerns.  This whole thing does bring up one large underlying question: 
> Should cohousing communities have 'values'?!  The traditional rhetoric
> says that cohousing communities have no political ideology or commonly
> held belief except that they want to share and be in community.  When
> someone asked for value statements I thought to myself, 'I thought
> cohousing groups weren't supposed to have values!'.  I would agree with
> Vicki that we need something to keep us together besides wanting to share
> things.  We need more values.  Of course we have values regardless of what
> we do.  The status quo has a built in set of values so saying we don't
> have a set of values is absurd. I think the only way to make cohousing
> communities better is to allow values and ideology to be discussed and
> allow and encourage a diversity of opinions.  If communities aren't open
> to different opinions, then the vitality and long term survival of them is
> in doubt.  I have different opinions that most people and I feel
> uncomfortable with groups that don't openly discuss differences because I
> can't express my beliefs in a safe place.  I don't want to live in a
> community that is a cult of people with identical beliefs but we should
> acknowledge that the status quo is essentially forces people to have
> identical beliefs.  Anyway, I've gotten a bit off topic, but I hope the
> point about values in cohousing communities was well taken.  
> Eric Hart
> harte [at]

Eric, I don't think a discussion of aesthetics or values is at all 
off-topic. This might be a good time for me to confess that my interest
in cohousing reaches much farther really than literal sharing of
housing, to extremely intentional community. In fact the physical 
facilities are quite secondary to me in the short- and mid-term; I'm
considering giving up privacy, a short commute and other in-town 
conveniences in order to really get to know the group I'm considering
joining (if they'll have me) before any groundbreaking occurs. 

>From what I've been reading in the past few months, there's a clear split
among posters here, between cohousing for shared space and cohousing
which is incidental to intentional community. Any position on the 
spectrum is equally valid, as long as we each know where we sit, and where
our current or prospective group sits. Obviously, and luckily, all here
seem extremely articulate and willing to expend the energy to both
consider and communicate about our miniscule variances in aesthetics
and values and missions.. I laugh to think of the responses I get even
from close friends, and from others who are not informed about cohousing:
to them we would all appear quite aligned! It's easy to forget how far
we've come since we discovered the basic assumptions that brought us


Vicky de Monterey
dryad [at]
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