Re: Neighbours
From: Jerry Callen (
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 10:17:57 -0500
Regarding working with neighbors: you unfortunately have to have
cooperative neighbors at the right stage of life, and it's not my
experience that this is something you can control.

The house we used to live in was surround on three sides by a total of
4 houses. A strong friendship grew up between us and two of the
neighboring households, and we were at least comfortable
acquaintenances of the other two. It helped that the back yards were
strongly interconnected; the one fence between yards had a big,
easy-to-use gate. Our garden directly ajoined one of our neighbors
gardens, and we shared watering, weeding, etc.

Over the course of a year and a half, all this changed as three of the
four houses turned over. The new neighbors didn't garden, so a very
natural connection point was severed. The ages of the kids was very
different, too; our children's playmate (in one case) and baby sitter
(in another case) were gone. One of the new neighbors wanted a dog, so
they erected a high, gateless fence that split the previously-open back
yards asunder. This happened in spite of our repeated offers to help
pay for the fence, if only they would also let us be involved in the
design of the fence. 

Ultimately we moved, too, and a major factor in our choice of a new
home was the quality of the neighborhood. As a result, I now know my
new neighbors better after less than two months that my old neighbors
after three years.

What did we look for? Things that people on this list will not find
surprising: front porches that showed signs of active use, people
walking on the sidewalks in the evening, low fences, backyard
playgrounds and/or toys strewn outside, gardens. In my opinion, a
slightly messy neighborhood is a HAPPY neighborhood. :-)

I certainly agree that to have a neighborhood, you have to BE a good
neighbor. But that is not by itself enough, and I think it's unfair to
assume that people interested in cohousing haven't tried to fix things
in their current neighborhood.

-- Jerry Callen
   jcallen [at]

   "The best lack conviction, given some time to think,
    and the worst are full of passion without mercy."
        -- Joni Mitchell (borrowing from W.B. Yeats)

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