When is CoHousing truly defined, for outreach purposes?
From: Cantine (Cantineaol.com)
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 11:08:06 -0500
I was discussing this concept with another member of our burgeoning cohousing
project a couple of days ago, now figuring that it could be something of a
useful tool for discussion on cohousing-l.

Representing Cantine's Island, Saugerties, NY Cohousing, I have intimate
knowledge of the fact that the project holds property, conducts meetings
through the use of consensus, and continues to move forward as a prospective
idea that has not quite found a way to come to fruition, making the need for
outreach an ever increasing one to cover future costs that inevitably arise.
 A multi-year process, so far.
As we promote the project, we put forward the idea that basically what we
need are people who are willing to take a chance with this new idea of
community, a risky venture.  We have a necessary foundation of members and
participating members who are interested in the promotion of the concept, but
still find that there is an absolute need to attract people who are willing
to invest in the concept heart and soul, something that is very difficult to
convince people of without truly having an opportunity to warm them up to the
idea, especially if you are trying to reach the mainstream.
We, so far as I am aware, have not really promoted the fact that we DO have a
cohousing community established, even without the commonhouse and the
facilities that are to be structured and designed to specifically meet the
designs of cohousing.  There are 3 full member households of 7 who live
within the town proper where this community is trying to get its start, 2
full members and one participating member living within reasonable walking
distance of the site itself.  The plan for site, upon completion, is to only
have 12 member households.
I think about the ramifications of the here and now, and relate it to a
posting that I was reading from cohousing-l earlier this week when I sifted
through all my e-mail, messages talking about the non-necessity of actually
having to undergo millions of dollars in development to create a cohousing
community, that the refurbishment of housing is an ample start, and that
community is what you make of it, that the time you share with neighbors is
what makes community, not necessarily the proximity to them or the structure
of the living arrangements that you have with them.

I am wondering, then, how people would react were they to be attracted to a
"community" that is already established, but not structured quite the way the
design of cohousing has been created for?  Would people feel let down to
travel to an undeveloped site, mostly advertised as a whole community, albeit
a small one, already?  Or is it still better to leave the promotions the way
they are, and try to warm people up to a more ideal view of cohousing through
pamphlets and open houses and sell them on a prospective venture?  These very
questions are what makes reaching out to people and being able to gauge their
responses through advertisement difficult.  

If I have rambled, I apologize, I am also caught up in the thoughts of other
members in our group who are frustrated by the lack of response in recent
times to our attempts at outreach, wondering if what we are doing wrong is in
how we initially try to reach people, what people it is that we are really
trying to reach, and what happens when people actually come, and later show
no interest in the project once they see it.

Keith Kowal
Participating member and Internet Liaison for Cantine's Island Cohousing, 
Saugerties, NY, home of Woodstock '94!
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