Re: Age Diversity in Groups
From: Fred H. Olson (fholsoncohousing.org)
Date: Sat, 6 May 2000 10:57:37 -0600 (MDT)
Howard Landman HOWARD [at] POLY.POLYAMORY.ORG
is the author of the message below but due to a problem 
(posted from address other than subscribed address),
it was posted by Fred the Nbhd-tc list manager: fholson [at] cohousing.org

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> The group we are most interested in has practically no families with
> children and I want to be part of a group with lots of children.

In "A Pattern Language" they analyze the distribution of ages in the
population and what it means for kids in a housing cluster.  The
conclusion is that to have a reasonable probablility of having enough
kids in each age group for each other to play with, you need to have
over 50 families in the cluster.  This assumes the cluster roughly
matches the age distribution of the population at large.

Most cohousing developments are much smaller than this.  Therefore,
unless they can achieve a disproportionately high fraction of families
with kids, there won't be enough to go around.

River Rock Commons has this problem to some degree.  My 6-year-old son
ends up playing with a 4-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl because
there aren't any other boys in that age range.  We have 34 households
but most of them have no children living with them.

Anyway, this is something that new developments should consider.  If you
really want "enough" kids in the community, then you either need to
build a fairly large community (50 to 60 units), or do something to bias
the community toward families with kids, or some combination of the two.

You also need to *avoid* doing things (like not having large units) that
would tend to drive families with lots of kids away.  This conflicts
somewhat with the trend towards "voluntary simplicity" - small compact
units work well for retired people or single people but not so well for
the sprawling needs of raising a family.  This isn't really an affordability
issue either - the cost of a unit has less to do with raw size than with
the type of fixtures it contains.  Framing and sheetrock don't cost very
much compared to things like faucets and light fixtures and appliances.
So the reasoning that goes "affordable means small" is often wrong, and
needs to be examined closely.

        Howard Landman

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