Re: Washington Post article
From: ann zabaldo (
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 17:06:22 -0500

Michael McIntyre wrote:

> Ann - My suggestion is that if there is a need to clarify cohousing
> from communes as very different economic entities, OK, but let's not
> let's not confuse things further by comparing a specific model like
> cohousing with an general umbrella term like intentional community.
> In general, I'm more inclined to define and explain cohousing by what
> it is with a positive tone, rather than what it is not.  It is
> important for us to be respectful of other forms of IC while defining
> ourselves in public forums.

Hi Michael/all --

As I said in one of my first emails...I would write a reply to the Post
article from TCN Mid Atlantic chapter.  Which I have done and is appended
below.  I think I can safely say that I managed to do exactly what you
didn't want Michael except that I don't think I was too monstrous.  Maybe
a little monstrous.  (OK maybe somewhat monstrous.)

So here is the product that finally went out in today's mail.  If you
have suggestions that I can learn from for future missives please send
them to me or post to the list.  I consider this a learning experience.
Thanks all for the information you shared etc.  You might see some of it
in this letter!

June 9, 1998

The Washington Post
1150 15th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20071

To the Editor:

Where Alissa Quart runs into trouble in "Neo-Counterculture My Uncle's
Life Away From the Mainstream" starts in about the third paragraph where
she begins collapsing cohousing, communes and intentional communities and
seeing each of them as all of one piece.

In cohousing, residents own their homes.  People in communes often share
their work and their living space as well as their income.  Residents of
cohousing communities NEVER share income nor do they have income
producing businesses for the community as a whole.  The definition of
"intentional communties" is very broad and can include everything from
back-to-the-land folks to highly successful religious organizations
a.k.a "monasteries" (very intentional.)

Also, unlike communes and many other intentional communities, it is one
of the central tenets of cohousing that the community espouses NO
ideology whatsoever.

Cohousing communities cluster the housing to increase the sense of
neighborliness.  Although cohousing communities are smaller in scale,  we
can see this technique popularized and used by Andres Duany and Elizabeth
Plater-Zyberk (New Urbanism) in their signature development "Seaside."
Closer to Washington, you need look no farther than Kentlands.   Pretty
far out idea.

What attracts so many people to cohousing?  That's easy.  In developing a
cohousing community, the future residents work together with
professionals in the building industry to help design their
neighborhood.  From the get-go they help design the floor plans of their
homes and the common house (not a "communal house" as the author wrote
and which infers something very different.)  The common house,  just like
the community building in large condominium complexes, can house
facilities such as a game room, tv room, kid's play rooms, weight room,
teen meeting room, lounge, kitchen and multi-purpose room used for
dining, birthday parties, etc.   The residents help decide where the
homes, the common house (community building) and other common facilities
will be located in their neighborhood.   And, the residents draft and
write the codes, covenants and restrictions they will live by which a
lawyer then reviews.   The residents (not a management company) manage
the community.  This working together creates a neighborhood of safety,
security, friendliness, and support.  Benefits we all desire.

I do agree with Quart on a few things she said about cohousing.  Go to
any cohousing community and you can find Uncle Martins and kids who tease
each other and people who eat granola and houses with porches and
home-schoolers.  And, the most radical of all:  parents who limit (gasp!)
their children's intake of sweets. (I feel faint just writing this...)

The Cohousing Network (TCN)  is a non-profit organization which promotes
and supports cohousing endeavors throughout North America.  As the
regional coordinator for the mid-Atlantic chapter of TCN, I invite
readers of The Washington Post to visit the three cohousing communities
currently underway close to D.C.:  Blueberry Hill in Fairfax, The
EcoVillage of Loudoun County and Liberty Village outside Frederick.  I
invite Ms. Quart to come and I will personally show her the radical
things we're up to outside the Beltway.  By the way, did she read either
of the books on cohousing, the journal Cohousing  or contact anyone in
our organization?  Or visit any of the other 36 finished or 150
developing communities in the U.S. and Canada?   She doesn't mention any
of this.

Our chapter also sponsors a free slide show and discussion about
cohousing the last Wednesday of every month at the Upcounty Regional
Services building in Germantown, Maryland starting at 7:30 p.m.

Ya'll come and we'll bring the granola.


Ann Zabaldo
Regional Coordinator
The Cohousing Network
Mid-Atlantic Chapter


Enc: bookmarks

Best -- Ann Zabaldo
Liberty Village Cohousing (:~
annz [at]

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