Re: the early years/reply
From: 'Judith Wisdom (
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 00:47:03 -0600
Blaise and others,

In my answer-post to you I didn't mean to paint the Quakers (but I'm 
afraid I did) with such a broad conservative brush as to in any way 
undermine their wonderful progressive tradition with all manner of 
things, most especially when it comes to what they did with respect to 
universal peace and opposition to the Vietnam war, of which I too was a 
part, and relied on their support.  I was only referring to them as part 
of a socially conservative (as in resistant to new and hip formations) 
streak in the city.  There are many Quakers who are not progressive 
culturally and socially but are politically.  They're a complex group.

But that you were reluctant to invite well-known cohousing speakers here 
is (I think) proof of our social/cultural slowness/backwardness.  Most 
people wouldn't know.  Most people, virtually all people, I talk to about 
coho know nothing about it.  More importantly is your issue (and mine) 
they're not interested for themselves.  Hence my suggestion to do a 
modified coho to start (a coho in organization and human relationship 
that would dig into an already extant neigbhorhood and relate in coho 
ways but allow for more independence, allowing people, e.g., to feel 
freer to be able to sell their property, and also not to look too too 
communal.  I personally think that might draw like-minded people in the 
neigbhorhood in.  Maybe for starters sharing in the buying of fuel or 
household products.  Participating in some group meals.  That could then 
spawn some publicity and ultimately a "real" coho community.

I love Philadelphia but I dislike it also.  It is beautiful, it has lots 
of good "culture," and many, many interesting people of accomplishment.  
But its life is very fragmented and cliquey so that many of these 
wonderful people remain hidden and not available, stuck in their 
enclaves, snubbing newcomers.  They're not bad people.  It's social 
ethos, the same ethos that has this city inhospitable to new forms, be it 
in medicine, social arrangements, or creative deviance.  Even the 
wonderful Quakers, many of whom I adore and revere, can be very, very 
straightarrow here.

This all has to be comprehended and taken into consideration when 
starting something new.  And this is why I think  (emphasis on "think" 
because this is complex) that places like Philly need to be treated 
differently when it comes to introducing new things.  We're not alone.  
It's just the case example of this sort of thing I know best.

Russell M from Collaborative Housing, I believe, (I don't want to put 
words in his mouth and wish he'd comment), said that cities have souls.  
This is close to what I'm talking about and these "souls" are the 
cultural "soil" in which coho or anything must take root.  And any good 
gardner knows that you can't plant every variety everywhere, and in 
someplaces to plant something you have to make lots of preparations to 
make it grow.

I hope I haven't not needed to say this, to explicate.  But I felt 
Blaise's reference to what I said seemed unfair to the Quakers and more 
simplistic than I intended, and thus would do no good to the subject at 
hand, which is relevant beyond Philadelphia.

Judith Wisdom
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