Working in neighbors within your community
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000 12:20:48 -0700 (MST)
I think one of the most important things cohousers can do, is to keep an
open door for your neighbors to the wonderment of community. Yes, you are a
set of private homes, and you YES, deserve some privacy. But as a cohousing
group, you are also a grand experimental model, of what I strongly beleive
is a better way to live. The more you can do to accomodate the folks around
you, and willingly show off your good works, the more you are contributing
to making the world a better place.

It is hard sometimes to deal with visitors, but I encourage you NOT to
become a closed enclave. There are way too many of those already, and there
are some cohousing groups that have closed themselves off. This is a real
shame and hurts the potential of cohousing. There is a balance point that
can be acheived. Let one or more members handle the outreach as their
community work.

I lke the idea of letting neighbors get involved in committees and social
events as it seems a win/win. Your group gets energy, the neighbors get a
chance to be involved. I have seen some groups make this a criteria for
community meal involvement for neighbors and others. Sign up and participate
in the work, and you get the benefits of the work. I have also seen groups
charge a small surcharge on outside eaters. Not a lot, just a bit extra.

I have also seen cohousers go out into the larger neigborhood world and have
some HUGE impacts, in schools, charities, and larger community growth. You
bring with you a set of skills, the very cooperative and organizing skills
you need to live in community, and as you apply those skills in the
institutions around you, you make ripples that turn to waves that can wash
over and redo our self-absorbed, me-first culture. I have seen some
excellent expansion of cooperative endeavors come from neighbors of
community who got inspired by the communitarian example.

Also remember, you WILL have turnover, and you will need to someday sell
some homes. Having neighbors that are excited about being involved gives you
some potential buyers that you know.

To those with the attitude, "we paid for this, bug off" I can only shake my
head in sorrow and hope we can overcome this.

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

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