Re: Healthy long term communities
From: Dspreitzer (Dspreitzereworld.com)
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995 15:40:41 -0500
Rob Sandlin writes:  "The community forming  bonds which come from the give
and take and process of design and development will not likely be present in
those who join the turn key developed project and so will have to be formed
in some other way."

And he goes on to suggest that without having been through the "development
war" (my words) together, that somehow commitment and group cohesiveness will
either  decline, or cease to exist altogether.

"...Are there trends now in places like Winslow or Muir Commons?

I think N Street history can provide some perspective here.  Speaking as a
former N Streeter, we never had to go through a "war" together, though there
have been several significant battles and successes over the years. We've
also had probably more turnover than any other cohousing community in North
America.  Every September people come and go, or move from one house to
another in the community. Even with these factors, I have never sensed an
overall decline in cohesiveness.  Not all newcomers slide right into the
middle of things, but many have.  And some old-timers are no longer right in
the middle of things.  There is a good melding of old and new.  It's a
two-way street: both newcomers and long-term occupants have to make an
effort.

I would hate to think that commitment and group cohesion can only be gotten
out of going through hell together (my take on the development process,
having thankfully never experienced it personally, only as an observer).   I
don't buy into the idea that only work and pain bring people together.  There
are many events that bring people together and provide outlets for
community-building.  At N Street, surely work continues to bring us into
contact with one another (be it laboring in our own gardens or working
together on a committee) - but so, too, does play: community camping trips,
carolling for the Holidays, dinners, birthdays, weddings, etc.  

I think that the main factor in whether or not commitment and cohisiveness
are maintained over the long-term has less to do with who "built this place"
(past tense) and more to do with who is building this place (present tense)
 - who is here now and do I enjoy their company, or respect their
contribution to the community?  Getting to know your neighbors should be an
ongoing process!

And Rob, I think you're underestimating the new energy and revitalized level
of commitment that "strangers," I mean, newcomers, can bring.  My experience
is that they often have refreshing ideas and perspectives.

Donna Spreitzer
N Street Oldtimer/Cohouser without a cause yearning to one day be a newcomer

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