Re: Wash. Post Article
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 11:30:57 -0500
I wish such a prime location had gotten a more coherent and focused 
article. About all the writer conveys is that she is confused about her 
uncle's, or anyone's, attempts to live more in harmony with their ideals. 

The organization is a hodge podge of personal and supposedly 
informational. The latter is a jumble of 60s-type communes, Marty's 
cohousing, and historical utopian experiments. In no way does it sort 
them out and show where cohousing, or even this particular cohousing, or 
this particular family, fits in on the spectrum. 

The author's distaste for it all, or characterizing it as extreme,  comes 
across in phrases like "quasi-Utopian", communal (repeated), reference to 
the children's "tiny allotment of sweets", linking homeschooling with 
Christian fundamentalists.

Lack of choice seems to be emphasized: "daily life is governed by written 
covenants", every house "must" have this and that, Pattern Language as 
"dicta", reference to Twin Oaks where every family is "assigned a full 
work week" in the communty's business. It isn't framed in the light of 
the involved families having chosen certain ways because they make sense 
to them. One doesn't build a certain way because Pattern Language 
"dictates" it, but because one finds resonance with certain of the 
observations which the book catalogues. Makes community people sound like 
mindless followers of rules. Sounds like Marty attended a meeting, "got 
religion",  and chucked his previous lifestyle, almost without a thought.

The mainstream reader gets reinforcement of their preconception that 
community people, or unfortunately for cohousing, cohousing people, are 
off on the fringe. The word "communal" conjures up sharing of wives and 
paychecks, further reinforced with examples from Twin Oaks of no private 
cars or homes. Marty is referred to as "living off the grid of 
conventional life." There's "proud rejection of mainstream values," in  
favor of "values uncorrupted by the society at large"

There's a certain disdain or distance in phrases like "denouncing 
cultural retrograde anachronism" "the sorry state of American culture", 
hijiki, tofu, soy milk, "we knew what we were against, but not what we 
were for", "proud rejection of mainstream values", "sparing" the children 
from the culture's values, the uncle's life as "stripped down" . 

There's a (triumphant?) tone of  "And it doesn't even work, or isn't even 
alternative after all" in the bits about shopping at Ikea and boys 
insulting girls and playing war games. 

The bits about the friendly atmosphere and sense of personal connection 
at Vashon were positive, but I am afraid the mainstream public will come 
away from this article with their prejudices confirmed, rather than any 
real understanding about cohousing or how it can appeal to "ordinary" 

Lynn Nadeau at RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
           Where we finally stopped giving interviews to one regional 
newspaper after       the third article in a row referred (despite our 
specific prohibition to the journalist) to 60s communes. 
What's worked best is to write an article ourselves and submit it to the 

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