|RE: attracting co-housers: finding a community||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (RobsanExchange.MICROSOFT.com)|
|Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 11:37:01 -0500|
DOrthey wrote several steps she used to look for a community. Here are >my suggestions: >>1) ease in obtaining information. I only wrote to communities with an >>e-mail >>contact. Is yours current? 6 of the ones listed on the co-housing web page >>are now defunct; several others never answered my letters. I wrote first to >>those communities with web pages. > >Your chances of getting a return letter are much higher if you include a self >addressed stamped envelope with your inquiry. It is also good to include >enough about yourself and your community interests to let people know about >you and how you would fit in. I have heard from community seekers that a 10% >return to written inquires is about what you can expect unless you use a SASE >and then it jumps up to around 40%. That means it is typical that over half >the inquires you send out, even with an SASE, will not get answered. > >>2) some kind of time-frame/financial info. Obviously we care about when >>units >>are/will be available, and if we could afford one. >Developing communities are often careful about time and money specifics. >Seldom do the time and costs come out as you think. I would think you could >get ranges, but would be surprised if you got absolute dates and costs from >any project except one very much built. I would be very suspicious of a >forming project, which doesn't even have land yet, if they are quoted prices >and timelines. > >>3) member bios. This is far more interesting to me than a color brochure; >>yet only *2* of the 30-plus places I have heard from offered member bios >>(one is listed on the web page; smart move). >This is a good idea although be sure to ask your neighbors before you send >out their bio's. Some folks want to retain their privacy and only share those >details with their neighbors, not in a general handout that goes out to the >world.Bios are nice, but they are often very misleading. What you want to >know is what people are like now, not where they went to school or what they >say about themselves. THe only way to pick up what people are really like is >to spend time with them. This goes both ways. WHich is why many communities >will tell you to come visit. > > At Sharingwood for awhile we included a general demographics: 12 people >between the ages of 30-40, 4 kids aged 4-5, etc. Got several comments from >folks that this worked for them, since one very often asked question is how >old are kids. > >>4) how nice the correspondence was. Perhaps I should have listed this one >>first, since it has been the most important. We got a whole range of >>"vibes," >>from "Yes! We'd love to send you more information" to "Well, you'd have to >>move here first, attend a few meetings, and then see if we liked you." >>Guess >>whom we wrote back to. Based on the warmth and helpfulness of several North >>Carolina communties, we have now scheduled a summer trip to an area of the >>country we had practically never heard of before. Someone said here on the >>list a few days ago that he wouldn't take an active interest in people until >>they had attended three meetings. I guess it goes both ways; I wouldn't >>attend >>three meetings until someone had taken an active interest. > >Well speaking for Sharingwood, in the last five years there have been >hundreds of inquiries, dozens of people come to meetings, a small handful >became neighbors.What we have learned is that if someone takes the time to >visit and then comes back again, they are more likely to become a neighbor >than a random letter in the mail. So far not a single member came through >random letters in the mail. One of these days I should count how many letters >we get asking us for info, it seems like a lot. Our entry in the Communities >Directory has generated several dozen, mostly from folks who make it obvious >in their inquiry that they would not fit into Sharingwood. Thus they never >get a return letter, and also because we are not desparately seeking members. >Actually we are not doing any recruiting and folks still keep calling and >coming, and from those folks, have formed our waiting list and friends list. >These are the folks, that when units come for sale, will be in the loop. > >So much of what happens in resonse to inquiries is kind of random. >Communities are not often well functioning business-like operations, and so >answering letters and the quality of the answer depends entirely on the >person who volunteers for the job. If they are on vacation, or burnt out, you >may never hear from them. Letters get passed around, get lost, get send >without stamps, scribbled on by kids, etc. Very few communities are together >enough to send out a form letter response: "Dear sir or madam, thank you for >your inquiry, our recruitment person just had a baby and we can not process >your request at this time." >What really happens is that the job gets handled by someone who is often even >less organized. > >Typically ONE person gets stuck handling this stuff and they may or may not >do a very good job of it. If a community is really hungery for members they >will place a lot more emphasis on it than one that is not. However, choosing >a community by whom gave you a personal anwser is maybe not a very good way >to pick who you want to live with. > >So if you are in search mode, my advice is once you find a community, get >involved with them, even if you can't live there for awhile. Become a >"friend" of the community, even if they have no such designation, by helping >out at work efforts, going to special events, whatever you can do to spend >time with folks. THen read all their stuff, their mission, bylaws, etc and >then you will have a good idea of whether its the place for you. > >One general tone I get sometimes which really annoys me is when strangers >demand things of me or my community. "It's your responsibility to answer my >letter" "How come no body is around to give me a tour on Wednesday >afternoon?". "How come no body returned my long distance phone call?" >People sometimes seem to expect that communities exist to provide "THEM" with >service, right now. It aint that way, and folks with that attitude usually >end up never finding a commnity, because no one wants them. People who do >tours or answer phone calls and letters are volunteers, not paid staff >members. So keep in mind the great truth of community life: Reality lies >somewhere between the potential and the glitches. Or as P.T. Barnum said when >someone criticized his dancing bear act: " Lady, the amazing thing about a >dancing bear is not how WELL it dances, but that it dances at ALL." > >By the way, if anyone else out there (without a web page) is actively >recruiting and would be interested in a family of 3 (ESL teacher; artist/yoga >teacher; 2-year old) some time after summer 1997, we'd love to hear from you. >We're looking for somewhere clean and green, although anywhere would probably >look green after Osaka. > >Dorothy Zemach >dw195005 [at] jnet.sumiden.co.jp >
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