Re: concerns about cohousing
From: John Sechrest (
Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 10:21:14 -0600

        I do not currently live in an intentional community or
        cohousing. Although I have been interested in the issue
        for years. And I did live in a group house that we 
        arranged about a decade ago.

        There is a dynamic tension between the role of the 
        individual and role of community. The boundry of 
        what is done for the individual and what is done 
        for the community moves around a bit. And it is 
        important to understand where the boundry is 
        for what ever group you join up with.
        However, if you start the conversation from the point
        that "I (the individual) will have to sacrifice X
        to get community" then the conversation is doomed from
        the start. 
        Privacy, space, meetings, communication are all part of 
        working in any group. This get more intense as you 
        move outside our cultural bounds and move into 
        a tighter community. 
        This tighter community will intensify issues, but
        it need not be a sacrifice. 
        If instead of a scarifice, you look at this question
        as an "investment", you start the conversation
        on a better footing. 
        To live in community is a commitment. It will only work
        if you are committed to working thru the issues
        that come up. 
        If you make a commitment and then you invest your time,
        space and money into that community, you can gather 
        a high return on your investment.

        However, like all investments, you have to be careful.
        There are many places that do not understand the 
        needs for privacy in the same way that you do. And there
        are places where meetings are not effective and so
        are a bad investment of your time. 
        But no community can survive without understanding the 
        boundry between the private and the public. Nor can a 
        community survive without effective communications.
        You have to decide for yourself what benifits you
        want to gain and gather from community. And then 
        what investments you can make in order to 
        acheive those gains. 
        If you start from the point that you are making a 
        sacrifice to be in community, then this "sacrifice"
        can become a sore point that festers. 
        If you value the freedom and autonomy of the individual 
        over the qualities of community. And you find no 
        reason to change your individual behavior for the
        benifits of the group, then you need to go back 
        and revisit the question of what commitment you
        can make to a community and what you hope to gain from



Tonka444 <Tonka444 [at]> writes:

 % My wife has been a cohousing enthusiast for a couple of years now.  I am on
 % the fence and would appreciate some candid input that might help alleviate 
 % confirm) my concerns. Here they are:
 % 1. Lack of privacy.  I'm not antisocial but I like to socialize on my own
 % terms, when and as often (or little) as I want.  The phrase"intentional
 % community" sounds ominous to me -- a little like "imposed community."  I'm 
 % wild about the idea of communal meals (although a couple a week would be ok).
 % I value freedom, self-reliance, and frequent solitude as a means of spiritual
 % renewal.  I don't want to be cheek to jowl with my neighbors, even neighbors
 % that I like.
 % 2. Meetings.  Don't like 'em at work, and there's no reason to think I'd like
 % them any better at my "home."  The cohousing community that we're looking has
 % the raw land but there' s a lot of planning to be done to make the project
 % come to fruition. 
 % That means lots of weekend meetings.  With the demands of family and work, 
 % tiny islands of free time available on the weekend are a welcome sanctuary.
 % I'd hate to lose any of them. 
 % 3. Lack of space (see privacy above).  We don't need 3,500 square feet but
 % 1400 sf (the average sized unit for the development being contemplated) is
 % smallish.  Yes, I know, you don't need as much private space with the 
 % space available, but still. . . .We're a family of four, five on the 
 % and we need room to breathe.
 % There are other , more personal concerns (e.g. length of commute) but those
 % are the primary ones.  I take it they're not unique.  I'd appreciate your
 % CANDID input because this is a major life change and I want to make sure 
 % doing it with open eyes.   

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