From: The CoHousing Company (
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 12:21:14 -0500
There are a variety of interpretations of Robert Frost's poem "Good fences
make good neighbors".  The most convincing one suggests that for some, the
only communitarianism to be achieved with your neighbor is when repairing
your fences.  When Robert Frost wrote that poem he lived on a farm in
Ireland.  For years he spoke to the adjacent farmer and neighbor exactly
once a year.  Each year they would repair the rock wall that separated the
two farms.  Throughout the winter, rocks would fall from the top.  Each
spring, they would walk the length of the wall, each walking on their own
side.  All day they lifted the stones that had fallen on their side of the
wall and put each one back on top of the wall.  Along the way they
discussed the issues of the day, got to know each other again, and
discussed their own lives.  The repairing of the fence (make "the good
fence") was their single excuse to commune.  In remaking the good fence
they remade their relationship albeit brief.

Cohousers have so many other excuses to be together, they do not need
fences.  Further, we have rarely heard of anyone  who complained of lack of
privacy in cohousing and certainly you can accomplish that without fences.
The first two cohousing communities in Denmark were planned to have fences.
The first one decided to build theirs later because of budget constraints,
the second community choose to wait so they could add fences after
construction so that they could place them appropriately like a sculpture
adds a bit of clay based on the bust created so far  Only one of those 60
houses ever built a fence.  As one Danish architect told me "if you need
fences, you probably have an underconsidered site plan and too much money."

Charles Durrett

The CoHousing Company
"Architectural Design and Consulting Services towards the formation of
CoHousing Communities"
email: coho [at]
web site:
tel. 510-549-9980, fax 510-549-2140
1250 Addison St. #113
Berkeley, CA 94702

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