Re: co-housing growth head in the sand
From: Roman Bitner (
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 13:24:43 -0500
dwn2erth wrote:
> liz stevenson thinks my goal is to "demoralize good people" and that I am
> being truly offensive by questioning the approach and thinking underlying
> the the larger number of cohousing projects. The fact that a few are
> developed as urban revitalization does not change the fact that most are
> not, and, the fact that i think that people should open their eyes and
> recognize land development for what it is not offensive and doesn't deseve
> to be labeled as such just because i disagree. I believe that as a 16th
> generation quaker farm family, land planner, and environmental scientist
> who has watched watched our open space in the northeast destroyed by land
> developers of every ilk from the environmentally sensitive clustered type
> to the obviously uncaring, I care and hope that other "caring" people will
> also care and recognize the actual resultsof their actions. I have heard
> "efficient land use" argued from all sides. so what!  How about if we
> produce no more  suburban housing... ZERO GROWTH in other words.. terribly
> sorry you find dissent offensive. must make concensus discussion
> difficult..--
> >dwn2erth [at]
Dissent is not offensive. As a person who has lived in cohousing for
nearly five years, it is amusing to think that I could be some sort of
thought nazi-it just isn't possible in this environment! What I find
offensive is your tone. "Must make concensus decision difficult" is just
a snotty thing to say. Concensus IS difficult, and we make it work with
dedication and caring, not witty comebacks.
Does your 16th generation heritage entitle you to a home where others do
not deserve one? Your mentioning it tells me that you feel a sense of
entitlement that doesn't belong to other latecomers. Where are they
supposed to live? Wouldn't it be better for them to cluster their houses
and use the other land for green use areas than to subdivide the land
and make it all lawns? No growth as a planning strategy does not work.
This has been shown time and again to produce skyrocketing real estate
values, backlash, and eventually contributes to sprawl and environmental
degradation because people move out to areas where growth is allowed and
commute in to the no growth area. I am surprised that you are unaware of
this, with your credentials.
Ultimately, there are larger issues here. Population growth and poor use
of our resources are global problems unlikely to be solved with a minor
housing movement. But you belittle it without contributing any real
I would be irresponsible not to digress here, (even though it messes up
the structure of my letter!)and say that I agree with you on some
points. It has been disappointing to see some of the cohousing
developments become very spread out rather than adhere to the Danish
model. Some people who live in those places have said that they wish
they had made the houses closer together for various reasons; they have
to walk too far to socialize, there's too much yardwork, etc. But I must
remind you that this is a young movement and that mistakes will be made
and learned from. That is why this list exists. Please do not forget
either that cohousing is still very difficult to develop and that
strange land uses (to city planners) and affordabilty can add years to
the process, years that some groups just don't have. We were fortunate
to have some ultra dedicated members who had seemingly limitless energy.
Not everyone can be that kind of person. My, and others, vision is that
in the future it won't take huge amounts of time and energy to create
responsible land use like cohousing with built in affordability. Until
then, we need people who work hard to achieve it, and people like you to
sound a wake-up call and keep us on our toes. Thank you.
Liz Stevenson

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