Re: Too close for comfort....maybe
From: Diane Simpson (
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 23:34:14 -0500
Dear squirmy:

I don't think you are at all unjustified in feeling uncomfortable--I know I
would too, if I were invited to a meeting of this degree of intensity
without knowing the other people very well. Reading your note from a long
distance, I am wondering:

1) How long the group has been together.

2) How many meetings you attended before being invited on the retreat.

I am sure Rob Sandelin will give a much better response than I can about
why personal sharings are an essential part of the cohousing development
process (I still remember his story about the woman who *insisted* on a
semicircular driveway in the cohousing development to the point where it
drove everyone else crazy, and it was only upon deeper questioning that
they learned that when she was a child a sibling or close freind had been
run over by a backing-up automobile) but I will add my own two cents worth
anyway even though I don't live in cohousing.

Personal sharings are necessary. You can't make design decisions based on
pure "rationality." You have to know something about why your neighbors are
the way they are before you can respond to their assertions that things be
done a certain way. (Have you ever read "House as a Mirror of
Self--Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home" by Clare Cooper Marcus? I
highly recommend it.)

At the Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community in Amherst, Massachusetts, they
have two meetings--the "business meeting" and the "other meeting." The
"other meeting" is to deal with personal issues that can't be dealt with in
a business meeting. I believe they are on a bi-monthly schedule with these
meetings--check with Mary Kraus to make sure.(marykraus [at]

Retreats are necessary in order for a group to get away from the world of
the mundane and come together as a community to focus on the task at hand.
Creating community is a special thing--and I believe it is a spiritual
thing. But too many of us are unprepared to enter the world of spirituality
because it is so remote from our daily lives. We need to get used to it
gradually. This retreat seems like a very deep thing that you were thrown
into unprepared. I think the description of the retreat should have given a
lot more detail as to the level of sharing that would be expected.

I recently went on a silent retreat with members of my church and I found
it to be a very refreshing and enjoyable experience. The same retreat would
not have been an enjoyable experience two years ago. It all depends on
where you're at, and if where you're at is the same place as where the
group is at.

I wouldn't want to tell you to drop out of the group based upon this one
experience, but if you continue to feel uncomfortable with the degree of
sharing in this group then perhaps you should look for another one. I know
there are alot of cohousing groups out there with all different levels of
closeness. You have to find the right one.


(Giving a presentation to the Heath St.Neighbors on June 3 and at the
Connally Branch Library on June 15)
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>I am a relatively open-minded person and was surprised when I became
>uncomfortable at several different times during the weekend.
>The conversations in that share were very intense and I was told some
>very personal things. There were also tears. I felt like I was in a
>psychotherapy group rather than looking to join a resident designed
>neighborhood. I was going to talk about how I liked my watch!! (which seemed
>sort of shallow but I did not want to share my innermost feelings)

>The other thing is holding hands and singing. I was just a little
>uncomfortable about that.  I probably could get used to it but couldn't see
>myself eager to do it.

       @@                   DQS [at] WORLD.STD.COM                    @@
      @@@@        Diane Simpson      @@@@
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