Lessons from new world utopias and there implications for cohousing
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (RobsanExchange.MICROSOFT.com)
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 1996 10:47:35 -0600
One of the learnings from the "new world uptopias" is that  single leader
heirachical systems didn't last as long as multiple leader democratic
systems.  The communities where the focus was around a dynamic
leader/visonary usually fell apart once the leader lost power, died, was
dethroned, whatever.  Communities built around shared leadership, most of
which being of religous focus, did pretty well and some continue to this
day.
I find projects like eco-village at ithaca to be very inspiring in that they
are succeeding in blending a value system with a housing system. It will be
interesting to track this over time as units come up for resale.  In my
opinion there is nothing wrong with creating a distinctive purpose for your
community, including establishing a value system, it just limits who will
join to (hopefully) those that subscribe to the same value system.  It is my
opinion, based on what I have learned from the intentional communities
movement, that a strong shared value and belief system lends itself to the
longevity of the community.  Since most cohousing has kind of a weak value
system, if any, it will be interesting to watch cohousing over the next 20
years to see if the "sense of community" within the developments is
maintained.  
In discussions with some folks from Denmark the sense of community, and more
importantly the commitment to the community in some Danish projects has
clearly declined over time as the original founders were replaced with
others who bought in becuase it was a convienient place to live.  Those who
bought in later were less involved with the dinners, less involved in the
governance etc.  This is a very limited sample however (2 communities out of
200) and so in no way is indicative of the future of cohousing in America.
One lesson from some older US intentional communities is to regularily
examine your group mission and purpose statement.  This sort of "why are we
here?" quesitoning brings up some good issues and serves as a grounding
place for future decisions.
Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood

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