Re: retrofit cohousing vs co-nbhd [ was: Re: mythological
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 12:22:00 -0600 (MDT)
On Sat, 21 Aug 1999, Sanda Everette wrote:

> So Fred,
> In rereading your definition, I am trying to decide whether I am
> correctly using the term describing my project.  I did adapt the term
> after reading about N St. Cohousing.  In your definition, you mention
> "retrofiting the social relations between people who live in close
> proximity in existing housing. "  I see us doing that except I question
> whether you mean with the people already living in that existing housing
> or with people you attract to the existing housing who want to change
> their social relations to be more like cohousing.  In our case, people
> have been asked to leave...or moved on their own when they saw what was
> create space for people who want to live in community.

Hi Sanda,

I would definitely consider what you are doing with San Mateo
Cooperative Community to be an example of 'retrofit cohousing'.

You do bring up an interesting dimension that I did not intend to address 
in my definition tho - namely whether residents moved to the community to
participate in the community or whether they lived there before.

With few exceptions including in examples of retrofit cohousing that I
know about, people move to a cohousing community because of their desire
to participate and live this way.  This is how the self-selection process
is actually implemented.  Not everyone desires to live with the close
cooperative relationships that cohousing implies.  This self-selection
results in more consensus about and enthusiasm to implement various 
community endeavors.  This also relates to the recent thread on
Cohousing-L about 'Circumstantial Community'.  Communities that
do not have this self-selection process are inherently less likely to
achieve the same level intensity of community.

The one exception that I know of is my community to which I have sometimes
applied the term retrofit cohousing.  We (my wife and I) chose to organize
in the neighborhood where we have lived for 20+ years.  Since there are
few turnovers in the owner-occupied single family homes here, we are
working with people who already live here.  We hope to have some people
move here to participate ** but there will be few for a long time.  We
happen to have great neighbors who share many goals of community building
tho for them these goals are generally not as high a priority as for
typical cohousers. 

** We currently have 3 households interested in the second house that 
my wife and I own so we potentially face the problem of deciding who gets


Homewood Cohousing

Fred H. Olson  fholson [at]    Minneapolis,MN   55411  
(612)588-9532  Amateur radio: WB0YQM          List manager of:
Cohousing-L  See and Nbhd-tc --  Twin 
Cities Neighborhood issues list.  See

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