small cohousing groups
From: Mary Zoeller (
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 11:39:51 -0500
I'm posting the following message for Alisa, who is not a subscriber. 
She answered Julie's inquiry at my request. 
Hi, Julie -

I'm a member of the Berkeley CoHousing on Sacramento Street community.  I'm
just responding to your email of 5/13 as I've just spent the last week moving
back into our community (into one of the renovated units).  

Our community is 14 units.  We bought this property in early 1994 (3/4 acre
with 6 units and common house completed) and have spent the last 3 years
developing the other 8 units - 4 renovations and 4 new construction.  Ours is
a somewhat unusual project as we have been living on the site (in various
configurations at various times) and learning how to live in community at the
same time as we have been developing it.  This has had its own challenges; a
lot of us have been putting in 15 hrs minimum per week for 3 years...  This
is definitely partly because we have been small (and actually only 10
households for 2 of those 4 years) and we HAVE felt overwhelmed from time to
time (some more than others) by the amount of work involved.  

At the same time, for me, the size also feels just right.  I can't imagine
living in a community much larger - my fear is that it would be more
impersonal all the way around.  But this may just be because I like what I'm
used to...  And we are definitely one of the more intimate groups around.

The development costs that I think about are non-monetary.  And I really feel
like building community is about putting in the time: you get out what you
put in.  We have done a lot of processing and I feel there's a depth of
understanding that we have about each other that comes from working so hard
and so much together.  But it has not come w/out costs.  For example, other
life projects were put on hold or abandoned (we might've had a second child),
and there have been major challenges to the couples in the group and to the
individual family units (several of us have compromised our job
situations/family income in order to get this community built).  On the other
hand, my work on the Coordinating Committee and facilitating our general
meetings actually gave me the experience I needed to take on an advancement
in my career!  Also how to try to balance work and play in my life and in my

I must say, I cannot IMAGINE living any other way now.  CoHousing is
essential to the quality of my life and has provided wonderful opportunities
for growth...

Good luck!  It's worth all your efforts -

Alisa Gould Sugden

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