Re: Continental Coho Org. - PROPOSED Mission,Goals,Projects
From: David Mandel (
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 1997 02:33:24 -0500
Dear Michael and all:

I don't have the time right now for a lengthy, point-by-point reply, but
while I agree with virtually all of the goals set forth in your proposal,
I'm very wary of setting up such a massive continental organization for
this type of movement. A few points:

1. By its nature, the main work we do as cohousers is intensely local:
building our communities in whatever way fits our needs and goals. I don't
think such an organization is necessary or even useful. There would be a
tendency to rely on it for initiating and developing projects.

2. An organization of that scope would require very large amounts of money.
Are we going to assess strapped cohousing communities or individuals? Won't
work and would cause a lot of acrimony. Grants? A few, perhaps, but I don't
see big philanthropic bucks going to an organization that will be seen as
aimed at helping people build homes.

3. Many of your suggestions for what the organization will do are happening
already, just fine, thank you, as initiatives of various "burning souls."
If a project is useful to its constituency, it will find the necessary
support and will thrive. If it start relying on a central organization, it
runs the danger of losing that grass-roots, entrepreneurial spirit and may
wither of disappointment when the central org. can't come through for every
worthy project.

4. Let's create the organization, but very modest in scope. Let's make it a
clearinghouse for information in all directions, among different
communities, burning souls of new groups, media, researchers, federal
government agencies or interstate financial institutions when a united
lobbying effort is called for. Let's not create grandiose expectations that
the organization will supplant our local efforts to build communities.
Therefore let us not create a big bureaucracy that requires a lot of staff
and therefore a big budget. Whatever we initiate, let's have a clear vision
of how it will be funded on an ongoing basis.

5. If I'm wrong and there is a need and funding for a larger central
organization, it's relatively easy to expand, slowly. It's a lot harder to
contract, watching all the unrequited promises crash and burn in the
promise and usually ending up with a lot of debt and bad feelings. I've
seen it too many times before.

David Mandel

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