Re: Creating creative, non-traditional cohousing
From: Michael Mariner (
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 14:08:08 -0500
Laura Weathered said re the Chicago Artists' Community:

>The good news is that we structured a strong community before we tackled
>the bricks and mortar, consensus works and we won't take no for an answer.
>Can members of the cohousing list offer advice, or effective strategies
>going against traditional thinking of who constitutes a community?

I wasn't exactly sure what you were asking about "traditional thinking."

If you mean that you're creating a community exclusively of artists, not 
a "normal" cross-section of folks who show up in cohousing groups, then 
here are some thoughts:

Cohousing is a dynamic phenomenon, not a cookie cutter.  You may be 
stretching the paradigm a bit, but so what?  

 Cohousers seem to like to agonize about not having enough diversity in 
their groups, especially the more visible kinds such racial/ethnic 
diversity.  Racial diversity is highly laudable, but not always doable, 
it seems.  And, there is a delicate balance between being too homogenous 
(to where there's not enough stimulation and/or complementary talents) 
and being so diverse that you can't find enough common ground.  Since 
you've been working on this artist's community for five years, you must 
have a lot of group loyalty and cohesiveness built up.  The stereotype of 
artists is they're pretty ornery and individualistic, but y'all obviously 
don't fit the stereotype.

What if some artistically sensitive and appreciative marketeer wanted to 
join who might help all of you market your work?  Or, say, somebody who 
just loves art and would like to be around artists as they create?  I 
assume you would assess a newcomer based on how they fit in, not on 
purely artistic grounds.  Again you have to balance between pragmatism 
(what keeps the community cohesive) and idealism.

However, maybe you really are after a different flavor of community that 
only has some aspects of cohousing.  If you haven't already looked at the 
broader spectrum of intentional community, I suggest you check out the 
web sites of "ecovillages" and "intentional communities" listed in my 
signature block below.  

There are few arbitrary boundaries between cohousing, ecovillages, IC's, 
etc.  For instance, Ecovillage at Ithaca calls its component 
neighborhoods "cohousing."   Some older intentional communities that 
started out as "hippy communes" have evolved to more closely resemble 
cohousing where individuals own their own dwellings.  Perhaps some of the 
spiritual communities might be good models for your group, only art is 
your primary belief.

Best wishes, whatever you do,


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Michael Mariner
Boulder, CO
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