RE: Bill of Rights/Social Codes
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 1997 10:13:33 -0600
There is much work to be done to understand this adventure you are embarking 
on: The adventure of community.

It does not come quickly, nor cheaply, nor, as Mardi so aptly said, from your 
architectural design. 

In my travels around the communities circuit I have come to notice that 
cohousers put less emphasis on community building than other forms of 
intentional community do.  The social events, especially during development 
stage, are seldom, and often geared toward marketing and recruiting.

I did a workshop for a group where they several new members were on the fence, 
mostly because they had never had an opportunity to hear what the other 
members felt and hoped for the project. I helped them do a sharing circle with 
the focus: I want my community to be a place where..... and from that sharing 
3 members on the fence committed, because they finally heard what they wanted 
to hear about why the others were in the project.  It  cemented the notion of 
community for them, and built key understandings of each other.

If you are a forming group, ask yourself how much you know about the people 
around you. Not just their meeting style, but where they grew up, important 
events in their lives, why they are interested in cohousing, what they do for 
fun, and money, etc.  These are the sharings that will bring you a great deal 
of understanding which will make your decision making easier.

For example, one of my neighbors had a strong desire for drive through 
parking, where you don't back up.  Her insistance on it was kind of out of 
sync. It turned out, when she was a kid, her best friend, the boy next door, 
was run over and killed by a car backing up. This experience, which was fairly 
deeply buried, effected her decision process and once we touched that and 
understood, we had what we needed to work though it.

Oh god, does this sound like massive group counselling?  Guess what?  All the 
shadows of past history effect an individuals point of view and when things 
get out of sync, this stuff comes up. If you ignore it, you are neglecting one 
of the most important aspects of group dynamics.

I encourage you to create sharing forums where you can talk about your 
feelings, your histories, your fears and hopes, on a regular basis. You will 
be much more functional as a group if you do. 

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communities Association

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