RE: Cohousing and car sharing
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 07:23:45 -0600 (MDT)
Wow, the trouble with e-mail seems to be coming through here. Or I have lost
my touch at trying to explain things. I  continue to get personal mail
accusing me of saying all kinds of things I don't intend to.

Let me try once again. Cohousing, by its definition, and by 90% or more of
its current built reality is market rate, home ownership. This means that
the people involved in cohousing own their homes. In my volunteer work,
which has me travelling about the country visting communities, I find
cohousing residents find home ownership to be a very important, if not key,
attribute of their community. In most cases, If they did not own their own
home, they would NOT have invested in the community.

To own a home requires middle class income credentials. I have gotten
several emails that seem defensive of being middle class. But again, maybe
that's just a misintrepretation the comments. I am not trying to make a
negative value judgement about being middle class, Heck I'm middle class. I
simply contrast different types of communities. Car sharing is very common,
if not the norm, amoung income sharing communities. It's also pretty common
amoung non-home ownership types of communties. It's as far as I can tell
completely absent from cohousing communities. I have had the opportunity to
visit over 100 communties now and I offer that perspective to the list. I am
not trying to to do some ego trip or be condescending at all. I have respect
for the wide diversity of Communities and I am a student of community, thus
I ask questions, make observations and draw inferences. Sometimes my
inferences are off and like any good researcher I reframe them as new data
comes avaialable.

 Graham, who has visited more cohousing groups than I have, also had not
heard of any car sharing.  I have had the discussion about shared car
ownership with my neighbors here where I live, and also been party to that
discussion in a couple other cohousing groups that I have visited via
various work that I do. I have found most cohousing residents I have had a
personal conversation with find the notion sharing car ownership
unappealling. The issues seem to be mostly over control. I know this well,
since my wife and I tried to co-own cars with our neighbors for several
years and never found anyone that would take the leap.

So why do  other types of communities readily share car ownership while
cohousing residents do not? My thought is that one reason people in
cohousing choose cohousing as a community form, over other kinds of
communities, is because it has limits to what is shared, and cars are part
of those limits. This does not make cohousing people bad, or somehow lesser,
come on, I'm a cohouser and I don't share ownership of my car.  (nor my
guitars, or several other personal poscessions)

Now, in rereading this twice before sending this seems very straightforward.
As always, feel free to send me private flames and we can continue this off
the list.

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communties Association
Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

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