an alternative analysis:burden/help/disruption
From: Debbie Behrens (
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 12:03:30 -0500
I'm responding to Judith's comments as a fellow member, with Mark 
Frauenglass, of Highline Crossing.  

> Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 15:25:47 -0500
> From: "'Judith Wisdom" <wisdom [at]>
> Mark Frauenglass recently posted some comments on his experience with a 
> disruptive mentally handicapped person.  In his post he concludes "he'd 
> [Mark] would draw the line when it [a handicap of another] becomes a 
> burden to me."

Mark is a parent, and his and his wife's first priority, even above 
the community, is his own child and family (as it should be).

> Heck.  When I was growing up in a tight working class neighborhood, 
> although people were highly private, to a fault, help for the infirm was 
> an assumed part of what being a good neighbor was. ...

Did the infirm in your childhood neighborhood move in needing care 100% 
of the time and expecting that 100% of their care would come from their new
neighbors (you), for the rest of their lives, pretty much without support 
from their own families, or from trained professionals?  We do not have 
the resources of an assisted living facility.  Moving into a brand new 
cohousing community is hard enough work and stressful enough without 
adding full time caregiving.

> I hope I'm misinterpreting.  Perhaps he's been burnt by the disruption.  
> And I can sympathize.  I'm experiencing malicious disruption from a 
> neighbor right now.  And I'm not well, which makes it worse. But, if 
> we're to only like the "handicapped" who look out entirely for themselves 
> and ask nothing of others, I wonder in what sense it's proper to call 
> your place a community.

Mark and our whole community were burned when, after the parents assuring 
us that this person needed and would have a full time caregiver to live 
with them, reneged and just assumed that we would share the full time 
caregiving amongst ourselves.  When we finally objected (for many reasons, 
not the least of which was lack of training on our part, and liability if 
there should be problems) they practically threatened to sue us.  These 
people seemed (to us) to expect us to take over their family role.  As a 
neighbor, I would be happy to help, when I had the time.  But IMO these 
folks expected us to make their (adult) child the center of all of our 
lives, so that they could go back to living their own lives.  Yes, it's 
very touchy subject, and I may be misinterpretting their motives.  But 
we were badly burned.  

If I were to become sick, I would expect neighborliness and compassion from
my cohousing neighbors, but not to replace professional caregiving,
or even the intensity of caregiving that family members might be expected to 
provide.  I wouldn't consider it fair to expect all my neighbors to give up 
their whole lives to concentrate on me for an extended period of time.
I certainly wouldn't move into a new neighborhood immediately expecting 
full time care from my new neighbors.  

You may not think we're a community, you have a right to your opinion.
But, telling this person's family that we did not think we were capable of
the task of being full time caretakers was a very hard decision for us 
to make.  It was a decision we did not make lightly, and we did make it 
as a community.  All of us (who were members of the community at the time) 
stand by the decision.

                            (0 0)
 |  Debbie Behrens                              debbeh [at] |
 |  Highline Crossing CoHousing                      W (303)252-2215 |
 |   1611 W. Canal Ct Littleton CO 80120             Fx(303)252-2249 |
 |                                                   H (303)797-7779 |

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.