encouraging families with kids--simplify
From: Steve Farley (sfarleyigc.apc.org)
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 20:46:56 -0600
Denise Cote, of Geneva Community, Lyons, CO wrote:
>We have this situation now at Geneva and we're wondering what to do.  One
>of the problems seems to be that families with children require more
>certainty about the outcome before they can invest time and money.  Any

Yes, I do have a suggestion. It may seem a radical one, but it is one which
we at the Tucson Neighborhood Development Corporation are pursuing, at
least in part because our core membership contains three families with

We have decided to remove the risk and uncertainty which turns families off
by finding a developer who is willing to take on the risk, and we are
willing to surrender a fairly large amount of control to do this. Most
cohousing communities in the US have depended on large amounts of cash at
high amounts of risk early in the process. Some have gotten lucky and had a
wealthy benefactor in their midst; others have bitten the bullet and hocked
all they had to make it work. We have no rich angel, nor can we afford that
risk, as families cost a lot of money to run, and need a lot of time to
work well, and we have to be thinking of saving for big things like higher
education. So we have sought out compatible developers, and have had some
success. They are out there, it just takes some poking around and some
luck, and a high public profile on the part of our group.

I believe it is partly because of this new direction that we have not had
problems finding families with kids, a problem that seems to be reaching a
crisis point with many other groups. I also believe that this movement is
more likely to become widepread if we are able to find more developers to
take the risk from us, thus making cohousing a direct and viable competitor
to your typical new housing developments. We do not need the level of
control we often demand, and probably wouldn't even be able to afford it if
we could get it. And as Chris Hanson pointed out so articulately in his
keynote address to the RMCA conference last weekend, control is ultimately
an illusion.

What we want is simple: an easier way to form a community with your
neighbors. There are many other aspects to cohousing, but they are
ultimately secondary to that primary goal. I believe we have been making it
way too hard on ourselves, and particularly on families with kids, by
trying to do too much with too little.  What we want is community;
everything else will follow in time.

This movement is riding a major wave into the consciousness of this
country, and I think we can build physical community much more easily with
the help of sympathetic developers who are willing to take the risk. I
encourage all of us to look for candidates in our own communities--it will
make things easier on us, and will put this movement into high gear
nationwide. And we'll have a much easier time keeping families with kids.

Steve Farley
Tucson Neighborhood Development Corporation, Tucson, AZ
27 households with 36 adults and 11 kids
extremely close to controlling a fabulous site in downtown Tucson

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