Re: Ideology in Cohousing
From: Stuart Staniford-Chen (
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 16:42:14 -0600

Rob Sandelin wrote:

> What is an ideology? How is this different than a group value? My working
> definition of ideology is a belief that everybody in the community is
> expected to subscribe to. Many groups call these, "core values". In some
> case I am not sure what the difference is.
> The most common ideology in cohousing that I have observed is environmental.
> Many cohousing groups espouse environmentalist ideology, although they then
> turn around and declare that they have no ideology!

I generally agree with Rob.  A few notes:

The idea that a strong ideology is a bad idea in cohousing comes from the
original cohousing book (see for example the discussion of Overdrevet (p 62 in
the first Ed)).

I note two difficulties with strong ideologies:

1) If your chosen ideology is unusual amongst middle-class white liberals (the
main kind of people who are attracted to cohousing) you may have a hard time
recruiting enough folks who are into *both* the chosen ideology and cohousing.
Environmental ideology is a fairly safe choice since it's pretty common amongst
MCWLs, but veganism, say, is not.  There just aren't going to be enough vegan
proto-cohousers in any given city.

2) Activists, as a class, tend to be opinionated and stubborn.  You have to be
that way if you are going to try and change the world.  Yet, people who are
opinionated and stubborn are often a problem in consensus situations.  So a
community with a lot of activists is likely to have problems with their
decision-making.  [I speak as someone capable of being both opinionated and
stubborn at times!]

[I have run meetings with activists, cohousers, and software engineers.  The
engineers are way easiest to work with, and activists way hardest.  If the group
wants to start by taking half an hour to re-arrange the agenda, you know you
have some tough folks on your hands :-)]

Stuart Staniford-Chen           stuart [at]
President, Silicon Defense  &&  Asst Adjunct Professor, UC Davis
Voice: 707-822-4588             Fax: 707-826-7571

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.