Re: Cohousing stories
From: bdsullivan (
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 1995 10:10:06 -0600
Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday too all.

I just watched Scrooge  last night on TV ( a good story for Hong Kong) and
it made me think that some of the best mail I have read on the cohousing
listing have been feel good stories of life in cohousing. For example I
found the idea of unemployed members working for the community a feel good
story. So I thought it might be nice for others to share their happy
stories of life in cohousing. Not general feelings but a real story.

The idea here is also to let lurkers see the end product of all the
meetings and discussions and issues that cohousers have gone through. In
fact, I guess the listing is much like a real meeting where much business
is discussed. However,  lurkers do not have the benefit of seeing or
experiencing these results and I worry that some are becoming discouraged
by some of the talk. So let's talk positive.

My story. (Inspired by our guy with a fancy sterio.)

Years back when I had a cooperative arrangement in my own house, we were
looking for a new roommate. Steven answered our add and arrived for his
interview. He drove a brand new fast car (this turned me off) he was
wearing a business suit (this really turned me off) his hair was either wet
or greased back (now I'm sliding off too) and the worst to come was it
turned out he was a BANKER. I quickly decided his interview would be a
waste of my time.

But, he bothered to come so I figured he deserved the interview. After
describing our cooperative lifestyle, group diners, and other stuff he then
told me more about himself. The more he talked, the more I liked him! He
loved the house, the way we lived,  and the neighborhood ( a run down part
of Boston with mixed ethnic groups -- not for most)  and all the stuff we
discussed. Then I found out he was a musician and the suit and stuff was
because he had driven by the house earlier and liked it so much he wanted
to impress us with his maturity. So he returned to his house, got dressed
up etc in order to put on a good face.

Well to shorten the story, Steven moved in. He was 100% opposite from other
members. He spent more money on unnecessary things and in fact had maxed
out his credit cards. But he was an absolute joy to live with. He brought
happiness into our house, shared his "wealth" by buying gifts all the time.

The best part was Steve  made friends with twice as many neighbors as I had
managed to do. He invited them to our diners and soon our group diner
turned into a neighborhood diner. My previous attempts at making community
by removing fences had been outperformed by Steve's great ability to make
friends and invite them to jump over the fences. Our neighborhood became
the envy of all our friends. I have to believe it was because of Steve. Now
almost 10 years later,Steve and I are gone but people are still jumping
over the fences. The strength of the neighborhood started then has

The moral here I hope is clear. Everyone can contribute! I talked a good
cooperative line, steve did not. But Steve lived it naturally while I
struggle with it.  Other members of our informal cohousing neighborhood
included an old Irish woman, a gay couple, a union organizer, a developer,
etc. I believe none of these folks would end up in cohousing as it is
today. But they liked "Natural Cohousing."  Yet, once in they can bring
great love, sharing and diversity.

I for one would invite anyone of any belief into my community if they want
to be there and participate. I learn, they learn, and more ideas are better
than mine.

Brian D. Sullivan, Lecturer
Department of Architecture
Chinese University of Honk Kong
email  bdsullivan [at]

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