|Building a cohousing Culture||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (Floriferousmsn.com)|
|Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 09:55:41 -0500|
Michael asked about building culture. This is an interesting question because it is precisely this culture that takes the longest for the new member to understand. It is not written anywhere. Maybe culture is the combination of all the unwritten understandings that exist. For example, one of our in-house words is rachet. Used in this context, "I can't get caught up in a rachet now, I have things to do". What rachet describes is the community phenom of going out to get the paper and coming back 3 hours later, having had diversionary conversations or other activities involving numerous people. The commonhouse is referred to by some as the rachet zone. There is a lot of how we work together in our communities that is cultural. Events, processes and language comes from time and sharing experiences together. I think bringing people into your culture as a community is hard to do. For example, the notion of social capital comes to mind. Social captial is the good will people engender by working visibly on community improving endeavors, and also comes from being around and part of the life of the community. If you have high social captial people will accept your foibles much more than if you have low social capital. Although there is an expectation of participation written down, it is not written anywhere that if you don't participate in community endeavors much, people will be critical of you. You have to figure that part out. Another peice of our culture is that we expect a certain amount of openness. People will unabashedly come up and ask somewhat personal questions, and unless you specify otherwise, these personal things may become more or less known to everyone. Its not that people are gossip mongers, its that they notice your moods and ask about them. And in some cases, they just quietly work on some activity they think may help you. Culture is occaisionally a barrier for new people because they get caught up in something they don't understand, and its not in the process, policy or other manuals. You have to learn to ask questions, and get perspectives from 3-4 other people to clearly understand what's happening. You can understand culture by watching a group for awhile and looking for the ways things happen and are done. Sometimes this is not a conscious thing, and reflects broadly held assumptions. For example, there is no rule at Sharingwood that says it's not OK to hit your kids. I do not recall this issue ever even being talked about. But if any adult ever hit a kid in public in Sharingwood I would bet there would be 9 or 10 adults involved in processing it and, if the adult involved beleived it was OK to hit their kid, it would create a huge conflict area. Culture also comes from recurring events you hold as a group and how you deal with specific contexts. For example, our culture at Sharingwood is to plant a tree as a memorial to someone in the community who dies. This got started a long time ago, and it accepted as how we do this. Rob Sandelin Sharingwood Cedar Village (forming)
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