Re: Block Clubs - Evolving to Cohousing?
From: Fred H. Olson (fholsonmaroon.tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 09:43:50 -0600
Michael Mariner wrote:
>
>Fred said:
>
>>In Minneapolis a block club is an organizations to which all residents of
>>a residential block are encouraged to particpate.
>
>I'm interested in the "block clubs" as potential vehicles to build
>cohesiveness which could eventually lead to retrofit cohousing.

I dont expect Block Clubs to evolve directly to be cohousing-like
because of the open, inclusive, nominal 'everybody who happens to
live on the block' membership of Block Clubs versus the self-selected 
highly committed membership of cohousing -- but there would be 
overlap in purpose and membership and I'd expect cordial relationships 
between the two organizations.

Note that here any given Block Club has a very limited 
geographic extent- literally either side of the street for a block or 
two.  

There are coalitions of block clubs in some cases.

>In Boulder
>we have neighborhood associations which started as independent "activist"
>groups in different areas of the city.  Assertive neighborhood assn's try to
>have one rep for each block who distributes the newsletters and tries to get
>activities such as you described going to foster neighborhood cooperation.
> Recently the city hired a liaison to these neighborhood groups because they
>were becoming influential at city council and elsewhere.
>
>Fred, your statement above infers that In Minneapolis  they (who? the city?)
>encourage block clubs?

The city does encourage block clubs thru it's Community Crime Prevention
Office.  Each precinct (?) or community (I'm not sure)  6-10 in the city
has a civilian person and police laison person that work with block clubs.

>
>Are there incentives for becoming more cooperative or cohesive?
Not too many tangible "incentives" that come to mind.  One giveaway
incentive a couple years ago was administered in such a way that it
was a problem tho it did increase turn-out for one meeting.  There is
the assistance mentioned above.

>
>Is there any sense that blocks could eventually be units of political
>structure?
Pretty minimal in the usual sense.  There is more of a sense of them being a 
vehicle for citizens participation which is called for various government 
activities.

>
>Does the city see block clubs as a way to prevent neighborhood conflict?
Not sure.
>
>What kinds of funds and/or personnel does the city invest in coordinating or
>liaison work with block clubs?  What motivates them to encourage block clubs?

Block clubs are seen as a deterent to crime.  See above.

>
>Does the city have any understanding of cohousing/intentional community?  Do
>they see it as desireable?

Some understanding on the part of some city council people.  They are
generally supportive tho this has not been tranlated into any specific
support. A revison to zoning codes a few years ago added cohousing as
a recognised Planned Unit Development (PUD) possibility.

>A lot of work has been done in Boulder, so the mayor and the city council
>have come to see cohousing as highly desireable, according to the story in
>the local paper about Nomad Cohousing breaking ground in Boulder itself.
> Nyland, 4 miles east of Boulder has gotten lots of local attention over the
>last few years.
>
>Fred, is your block club the only one seriously considering retrofit
>cohousing or has that proposal seeded the idea in other areas of the city?

Again, note that our proposal did not come out of our block club.
Homewood Cohousing is too embryonic to "seed the idea" at this stage.

There are other retrofit cohousing proposals in the Twin Cities area; I
can't think of any others in Minneapolis proper.  David Liset is the key
person for a retrofit cohousing effort in St Paul. To David: ( who
subscribes to cohousing-L) care to comment on what you're up to?
Is there a block club where you are?  How do you relate?

Fred H Olson  Homewood Cohousing in Minneapolis
http://freenet.msp.mn.us/housing/cohousing/homewood/
(Our freenet is down as of 9 am cst 1/14/97 - 
I hope it will be up again soon.)

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