Re: "Non-cohousing" cohousing
From: Bob Morrison (
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 17:22:55 -0500
On Fri, 4 Jul 1997, Russell Mawby <russ.mawby [at]> wrote:

>Subject: Re: Coho Community - when no Coho "Community"?

>I think we develop new cohousing because of the lack of physical place that
>most of our cities (and lives) suffer from, because we've decided that
>investment value and curb appeal are more important in the houses we build
>than whether or not they're part of a *real* community.

  That's right. However, I don't think we can create a "real" community
simply by changing our attitudes. There are, of course, cases where someone
who is a natural leader has successfully created a sense of community in a
neighborhood and kept it going for at least a few years. However, the design
of most U.S. communities built since 1945 makes it more difficult to pull
this off. One reason for building cohousing as new construction, or converting 
vacant structures to cohousing, is that we can then implement design features
that are known to enhance community. 
  As an example of what we are up against, consider the condo complex I live
in. This is a 180-unit complex spread out over about 10 acres. When it was
built 27 years ago, there was almost no consideration in the site design of
creating a sense of community. Since it was converted to condos 12 years ago, 
several people who were natural leaders have tried, and failed, to create a 
sense of community. It became a vicious circle: People who valued a sense
of community saw that it was not going to happen, left, and were replaced
by people who didn't value this.
  I think a large factor in this situation is that the design is working 
against us. A design that it would be prohibitively expensive to fix. 
  The region where I live, 30 miles northwest of Boston, is full of apart-
ment and condo complexes built on similar designs, with a similar lack of a
sense of community.
  Another issue I would like to raise is, if a neighborhood does succeed in
achieving a cohousing-like sense of community, how do they spread the word?
If they are lucky, they can get an article in the local paper, but this
doesn't do much good for people from out of town who are looking for such a
place to live, or even for local people if they don't read the paper. As
far as I know, there is no forum like Cohousing-L for spreading the word
on places like this. So people who would like to find such a neighborhood 
to live in have to invest huge amounts of time and energy in the search. 

Bob Morrison

Home: Boxboro, MA               Work: Digital Equipment Corp., Littleton, MA

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