Re: Work as basis of community
From: Martin Tracy (
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 95 14:38 CDT
<Nancy Lyons wrote about cohousing and work>

>What's the driving force behind the cohousing effort?  The need for 
>human connection.  Our fragmented society cries out for connection - a 
>sense of place, a place in time, a family.  And another connection so 
>long ago broken that it is often dismissed: the connection of work 
>with family and community.  Most of us spend a pretty major chuck of our 
>time doing Work (something that other people will pay us to do that 
>sometimes but not-often-enough has some connection to family or 
>friends or our personal spirit).  Which brings me to what I would like 
>to explore:  
>How can we make Work the basis for a cohousing community?
>I'll put out a couple of initial thoughts:
>1/ Self-employed people (like me) start by co-oping office space  
>with other small business owners who they like, who have related or 
>complimentary businesses, and who have similar needs for space and 
>equipment. If that fits, then develop a mixed-use project with work 
>and living space together.  
>2/ If you already have a strong "work community", try to add a 
>residential component. Buy your own warehouse downtown and convert it 
>to lofts.
>3/ What if your job doesn't fit with these concepts (like you work 
>for the government)?  Quit that job (too many people working for the 
>government anyway), analyse your skills, and start a new business 
>with people you enjoy and respect and to whom you would loan your 

What a great list, Nancy!  Let me add one to it.

4/ Help each other to finance and construct houses, avoiding mortgages if 
possible.  Buy food in bulk and raise fruits and vegetables in the community 
garden to provide inexpensive dinners.  Share tools, laundry facilities, etc.  
Reduce housing and food costs to increase savings.  When savings are 
live off the interest and stop working.

My future neighbor in Sharingwood, Tony, is planning to buy into and build a 
group house in Phase II.  He envisions his own rooms and bathroom, and a 
and living room shared with about two others.  With the help of his neighbors, 
who will provide expertise, moral support, and maybe some physical labor, Tony 
will be able to build this house at a low cost.  He estimates he will be able 
pay off the mortgage in about five years and semi-retire at an early age.  

Martin Tracy, Los Angeles
mtracy [at]

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