From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 09:12:32 -0600 (MDT)
I have found that lifestyle (sexual preferences) issues are directly
supported in cohousing by how people deal with it. Thus cohousing typically
directly supports monagamous couple relationships because that is what is
tacitly "approved of" by the way people relate and react. So saying that a
cohousing group does not have the capacity, or inherient in cohousing is
nothing to do with lifestyle approval is not true. Its just below the direct
level of your group awareness. Pay attention to how people who are not like
you are talked about and referred to. This is why some homosexual and poly
relationships stay in the closet. It's not that they are outright banned by
some community agreement, its that they risk the disapproval of their

Yes, the OFFICIAL community represented by the bylawish, board/membership
meeting process does not take any OFFICIAL postiion on peoples sex lives,
but the around the dinner table, sidewalk gossipers form the community
positions on many many issues you never actually talk about in an official
meeting. This unofficial process defines many of the cultural norms you will
find in your communities. Confronting this can be a good excercise in
community growth. How people raise their kids is a classic issue. Have
anyone in your group that spanks their kids? I doubt there is any official
policy of your community to forbid spanking, but I bet it would cause uproar
and such from parents that do not. Odds are high, its an almost unanimously
dissaproved of parenting style in your community, and I will also wager that
you have never talked about it in a meeting.

I was involved in an intense mediation once regarding sex in a community.
The official groups statement and position was that it was none of anybodies
business. The unofficial group sentiment represented somewhat widely was
outrage at the sexual practices of a particular subgroup (partner swapping)
and it took quite a bit of work for the group to own up to their unofficial
gossipizing and disapproval. In the meeting it was all smiles and statements
of acceptance, in private it was all frowns and dissaproval. This
dichotomoy, between the public arena, and the private arena is very
interesting to pay attention to, you can learn a lot about a community when
you examine the difference between the two.

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

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