Re: Small CoHousing Groups
From: Joani Blank (jeblankhooked.net)
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 02:57:45 -0500
Next year, I will be moving from a small cohousing community (Doyle Street,
12 units) to a more "standard" size community (Old Oakland at Swan'w
Market, 21 units). I have been asked numerous times why, since I already
live in cohousing, do I want to move. There are three big reasons. One is
that this place is not urban enough for me. Another is that I wasn't in
this group when all the planning, design, etc. was happening. But the most
important reason is that I'm finding this community too small! We have lots
of committees/tasks that are done by one person, making them a lot less fun
IMHO. And we lack the critical mass for me to find one or two people here
to do stuff with, even when that doing is just sitting around and talking
after dinnere are. Don't get me wrong, I like almost all of my neighbors
here, some of them quite a lot, but because there are so few of us (only 16
adults at the moment) the chances of me finding someone who likes the same
music I do, or wants to go out for a walk at the same time I do, or shares
enough interests and values with me that I can count on him or her for a
really heart-to-heart chat, are somewhat limited. 

When I get to feeling that there is not enough cohesiveness, or whatever
Anne is thinking of when she speaks of trust, here, I remind myself that we
are trying to be close neighbors, not extended family, or a seriously
ideological  (or idealistic) community--well maybe a tad idealistic.  In a
small community, people's individuality really stands out, and for that
reason,  after a while there are few surprises, and to my way of thinking,
there is more tendency to people to become polarized. In a larger group, it
is often easier to get to "the good of the community."  Even here there is
a huge variance in people's enthusiasm for "participation" in either work
or play. My guess is that that is an issue in every cohousing community
whatever its size. 

Interesting, isn't it that the very dynamics Ann expects that she'd like in
a smailler community, I expect to find work better for me in a larger one.
Different strokes, right?  

I wonder if the proportion of kids to adults has any bearing on these
issues. (In Old Oakland we will probably have over 30 adults and only 4-7
children. That sets up quite a different dynamic than a community that has,
say 40+ adults and 30+kids (like Muir Commons and Southside Park), or one
that also has about 30 kids, but has close to 100 adults (like Nyland). 

Joani 

jeblank [at] ic.org 
(even if the "from:" address above is different, please). I will be
changing my ISP shortly and hooked.net won't be able to find me any more.)

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