Re: Christian Cohousing & Beyond Cohousing
From: Michael Mariner (
Date: Sat, 6 Sep 1997 15:09:29 -0500
Gorwydd [at] (name not given) said: 

>To everyone I pose these questions:
>*Just how tolerant are YOU yourself? Who would you refuse? Who HAVE you

I have good friends of various ethnicities, sexual preference, spiritual 
outlook, economic level, social background.  I couldn't tolerate 
terrorists,  hardcore racists (I understand none of us is totally free 
from racism in all its forms),  abusers, etc.  I wouldn't join a group 
where human rights were restricted or violated.  I haven't been in a 
position to (vote to) refuse anyone

>*Is the idea of cohousing so pure that it cannot or should not be
>interpreted/adapted by others for their own purposes or visions?

If we attempt to keep it pure, then it will only be attractive to those 
who have been drawn to it in its current state which is a tiny minority 
of people.  For Instance, I could envision people being drawn to a 
housing subdivision that had little or no cooperation but had cars parked 
on the edge with pedestrian walkways

>*Do we have the right to define what cohousing should or should not be in a
>concrete, denotative way?

As Allen Butcher inferred in his response, there is utility in having 
clean, crisp definitions.  The effectiveness depends on how tightly 
define it -- what you exclude and what you include in the definition.  
I'd agree with Allen to specifically exclude categories such as politics, 
religion, etc., from "cohousing."  Cohousing is primarily about a 
cooperative way to build neighborhood community, not about restrictive 
some list of characteristics.

"We" (whoever we is) may have the *right* to define it but frankly we 
don't have the *power* to define it to the media or to the general 
populace.  So far, the media have done a pretty good job portraying 
cohousing when they have a tangible site to look at -- the USA Today 
article, for instance.  But if we start to make some complex, ideological 
definition, it will inevitably be twisted and distorted.  Some people 
I've met are already using "cohousing" to refer to any kind of 
cooperative living or even to refer to communes specifically -- failing 
to understand the differences between cohousing and communes.

>To maikano [at] (Michael Mariner) I pose these questions: 

>*If you want to initiate a Christian community, would you permit
>non-Christians to live there as well? 

This is a theoretical question because I wouldn't initiate a Christian 
community tho I would be happy to have loving, diversity tolerating 
Christians join.  So, yes, I definitely would encourage people of all 
spiritual beliefs to join.
>*What about unwed Christian couples, what about Homosexual Christians...
>would you allow them to share your intimate spaces? 

Fine with me to be unwed and/or homosexual Christian or non.  I would 
treat them as any other community member, e.g., how close I got to them 
would depend on complementary personalities, similar interests, senses of 

>I would be very interested in discussing with you what your view of cohousing
>is, and find out what methods you will use to determine who can and who
>cannot buy into your vision.

My view of what cohousing *is* can be found in the cohousing books and in 
the USA Today article.  I would use the standard selection methods 
cohousing groups use -whoever shows up, can afford it, persists thru 
meetings and fits in is a member.

I'm not as concerned with the current definition as where it's going.  I 
can't help but try to see the future and to lend my hand/mind to moving 
it where it could be more beneficial to society and individual citizens.  
More below.

>Is cohousing really the correct word for what you are looking for, or do you
>envision more of a "Planned Community" concept. We need to iron out the terms
>and their differences if we are to help you find what you are looking for.

Cohousing is probably *not* the correct word for what I personally am 
looking for.  Cohousing is a huge step towards a nurturing, cooperative 
lifestyle, but it's only a first step.  As old-timers to this list may 
remember, I'm writing a book that portrays a vision of what will evolve 
beyond cohousing.  The current working title is "Creating Belonging:  
Villages, Neighborhoods and Tribes in the 21st Century."  Basically I 
believe society will benefit enormously if neighborhoods evolve into 
tribal villages that are networked and interlinked and that use 
appropriate technology and sustainable cultural political, social, 
economic and environmental structures.  These neighborhood tribes will be 
highly diverse and will over time transform our culture from the true 
grassroots.  Neighborhoods should be the true grassroots of the culture 
-- not cities, counties and states which are too large to identify with 
and feel empowered by.

Currently I'm in the process of moving from Boulder to Grand Junction, 
CO, to hole up at the family farm for the winter to complete the book.  
I'm always interested in hearing other people's visions.  Please write me 
with your comments and ideas.

Michael Mariner

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