Re: RE Diversity
From: John Major (
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996 12:10:35 -0500
Well, well, Buzz blurts the dark secret out - 

> We have made no attempt to make our community diverse.  Why not? one may
> ask. Why should we? I would reply.

We at Wasatch CoHousing recently had a short discussion about this topic, when
it was suggested that we advertise in some senior/gay/hispanic publications in
the area, instead of just the "mainstream" New Age publication. One of our
seniors said "oh, you don't want that bunch from (a seniors mag) - they're
just a bunch of boring right-wingers..." So this brings up something I might
call "cultural diversity"...

> Think about it yourself:  why on earth would a black person want to live
> in your community?  Or a Hispanic? Unless they happen to have the same
> cultural background and inclinations as yourself (heaven help us), they
> would feel out of place.

I've been feeling guilty recently because in (arch-conservative) Utah, Wasatch
CoHousing probably represents the densest collection of Democrats in the
state! Conservatism tends to be a cultural thing here - tied closely with the
dominant religion, Mormonism, along with things like jello deserts and large
families. We had a Mormon couple with us for a while in the early days, but
they eventually left, I believe, because the wife had a hard time leaving her
current community, her LDS neighborhood Ward - and perhaps was a bit nervous
about her kids growing up around folks that felt it was OK to drink coffee and
alcohol     ;-)

We have a lot of age and income diversity, and we like that a lot. But I'm
still interested, quite frankly, in attracting some
Republicans/Mormon/mainstream Utahns, because as a "middle son" I've always
been a bridge-builder - had a few good Republican friends in Massachusetts,
where they were as rare as Democrats in Utah! I fantasize that having such
members might make it easier for, some time in the happy future, a CoHo
development to be built by a whitebread developer in the next whitebread
suburban development going up around here - something that has to happen for
this society to start straightening up and flying right, and the teenagers to
stop shooting each other in rage and boredom... 

But at this stage of things, it just may not happen for Wasatch CoHousing.
There are certainly current members who have *no* desire to recruit such
folks, and a Republican joining us would have to be awfully brave. Is our
attitude about conservatives in our group similar to the prevalent Utahn
attitude towards homosexuality - conservatism is a "choice", and therefore an
intentional and perverse going against the will of "Gaia"?    ;-)

In our case, any Blacks/Hispanics/Tongans/Vietnamese/Native-A's that came on
board will probably do fine as a tiny minority, because that is what they are
in the Utah scheme of things. I hope we get a chance to find out - recruitment
is difficult because they are even a smaller minority than Demmicrats!  We are
building some rent-to-own affordable units, which will help with this issue,
'cause we all know that strangely 'nuff, income and ethnicity are somewhat
correlated in the US, and especially in Salt Lake City. And we are building in
a neighborhood that is much more varied than my current one - can you guess

Anyhoo, I appreciated Buzz' post, because it illuminated an aspect of
CoHousing that I've been curious about - folks' natural tendency to band
together. Perhaps the neighborhood is a *natural* unit of uniformity in
America and elsewhere - history seems to tell us that. A big problem has been
that neighborhood tends to uniformity by income, too. I think we will see
CoHousing that is ethnically very uniform (ala Denmark), and also very mixed,
in places like LA, where it comes quite naturally. I certainly hope, like Rob
Sandelin, that folks will try every possible permutation - just get to know
your neighbors a lot better!

Of course, in the grand Net tradition, any time someone posts a message like
Buzz' that voices an opinion that may not be entirely "correct", we can expect
a humor-impaired response jumping down the throat of the poster:

> Buzz there wasn't a white sheet (KKK for you more protected readers)
> among us.  They, though, had sets of sheets colored after their pride.
> Buzz why don't you tie-dye that white sheet of yours and join us.


John Major
Wasatch CoHousing
jmajor [at]

ps. To the journalist culling responses on "diversity" - you already got a
response from one Wasatch CoHopi, so please don't consider this one as being
addressed to you - I didn't write it intending to get quoted anywhere else but
in the 'net - thanks.

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