RE: land trusts & Cohousing
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 14:01:06 -0600
Mike mariner asked
>Could it be that cohousing is one small step back toward valuing the land
>like the Native Americans do/did?  If so, how can we structure the
>involved in holding the land so that stewardship of the land is best
> Some people I know feel that a land trust is a good legal instrument to
>ensure the land is stewarded sustainably.   Are existing or planned
>communities set up as land trusts?    - Mike M

Sharingwood is both a condominium and a cooperative, with the condominium
providing titles for the developed homes and common areas in the developed
space, and the cooperative owning the 25 acres of greenbelt which surrounds
the developed area. The cooperative will be modified into a land trust in
the next couple of years, as we develop and agree upon a management plan. 
The purpose of the cooperative which holds title is to manage the land in a
natural state for purpituity.  Although the cooperative requires 80% of the
owners to agree to any land transfer, there is some concern that future
development pressure in the form of land value may press a future generation
to sell the land for housing development, say in 100 years.  I am
investigating ideas in how to preserve land for all time, so that it will
forever remain in its undeveloped state.  The first step of that is
developing a long range management plan which will become the base for a
land trust agreement, should we find an outside entity that would manage the
land as per our agreement, not theirs. There are some local land trust
organizations, but I sense they are ephemeral, and will dissolve in the 1000
year time frame. After many many late night discussions about this, the 
solution seems to be to create a "priesthood" of land "worshippers" within
the ownership, who would train and inspire the residents to love the land.
Each new generation would have the land ethic training and hopefully respect
and reverence of nature as a core personal value, thus protecting the land
over the long term. This is very much how the native americans operated, by
oral traditional values, handed down from generation to generation. 
However, I am doubtful that the current group would formally adopt this idea
as a mission for the community and thus without organizational support for
the tradition, I am not sure it can be maintained.  As a matter of fact, I
suspect that when I leave the whole issue will disspear, thus a sustainable
solution requires something documented.

As a culture, although we have created some major land preserves in the
guise of national parks and wilderness areas, the oldest of these is barely
100 years old. There are some private nature reserves older than that, but
not by much and so there is little legal history for private management of
land in perpituity.  I want to create a place where nature stands forever
where my spirit will wander all eternity with the trees and flowers.  

Rob Sandelin

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