Re:vigorous way of life/new thread
From: HeidiNYS (
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 23:06:32 -0600 (MDT)

<< From: JoycePlath [at] [mailto:JoycePlath [at]]
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2001 8:42 AM
To: neesie [at]; cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_Cohousing as a rigorous way to live

It is reassuring to read that others have a difficult time during the first 
year of a new CoHousing experience.  For me, after eight years of planning 
and nurturing Marsh Commons it was painful to move in and discover that a 
substantial portion of my fellow co housers resented my efforts as project 
manager (fortunately everyone seems to really enjoy the built environment).

The first year was a lot like a bad marriage with undercurrents of
that made even small negative exchanges intensely hurtful.  At that time we 
had eight of our twelve homes completed. 
 Six months ago the last four homes have been occupied, giving us a healthy 
twenty to thirty folks at dinner three times a week, and new energy to 
complete assorted projects.  The center of gravity has shifted and suddenly 
it is a very special place to live.
A month ago I had knee surgery and was amazingly well cared for by my 
community.  There were flowers, meals, books, bottles of wine and help 
drinking it, trips to the bank, postoffice, and pharmacy, and the use of a 
bicycle delivery service for anything I needed during the first few weeks.  
During the time that I could not walk, it was comforting to know that with 
the phone next to my bed I could get help if needed it with in a couple of 
minutes from half a dozen neighbors.
Recently there has been a casual group that goes to the movies on Tuesday 
night after dinner,  Another group sings, with the help of two guitars one 
night a week. In a week or two our recreation room will be done and we will 
celebrate with a dance party for a couple who are both turning forty.  This 
Sunday we will have our first egg hunt and brunch with many friends are 
planning to attend.  
We still have some healing to do from earlier experiences but gradually our 
level of trust is improving. I have gone from a position that I might well 
have to move out (that bad marriage feeling) to a sense that this indeed is 
growing into a neighborhood that is caring, supportive, spontaneous, and
 It took two years of living here to begin to feel this way. 

Joyce Plath
Marsh Commons, Arcata, California
JoycePlath [at]

Dear Joyce,

whew!!  congratulations and even more sympathy on awhat must've been a very 
rocky period.  a long rocky period.    
I'd say we are on the other side of this dynamic, btw:  We did quite well, 
exceptionally well getting to and thru move-in, over years and years of work, 
and losing cared-for members who couldn't wait another 2 years for move-in, 
etc.  After a year or 2 of pretty easy going, that is a yr or 2 after move-in 
is when folks hereabouts got crankier!!!  Now ......  I think we're having to 
look at ourselves more realistically.  

On another, perhaps related note, how are couples lives impacted by living in 
co-housing??  Do some folks in your communities do spousal disagreements in 
public???  It can be awkward to be arguing with your sweetie as you walk to 
the car..... when the walk takes oyu past a dozen folks you know!!   And in 
Co-Housing, built as ours is, with cars parked away from houses,  it easily 
happens that one person stops for an interchange, causing the partner to fume 
in silence/ try to get the other to hurry up..... etc.      In some 
instances, I see a couple fond and affectionate and never having a tiff you 
can see..... and it brings up interest...: is this what they are really 
like!?  All the time?!  Some folks are very open abt their 'stuff', and it 
includes lots of humor......  Any interesting stories  from your 
I can't offer a really funny one without figuring out how to protect the 
couples anonymity.....  it'll come...  I do know friends in a community, who 
are unhappy in their  marriage, separated under their co-roof.  They are in 
the closet about their separation to their community so far!!  They've shared 
the  situation with a couple of friends, but their privacy has been respected 
to the degree that no-one/virtually no-one in their actual co-ho group knows. 
   Hard to imagine in a group where folks actually do know a lot abt each 
other,  but true!!

It'd be great to hear stories and hits of co-ho humor.

Ruth Hirsch, Cantines Island Co-Housing Saugerties, NY, near Woodstock.  We 
have aquired an adjacent piece of land and are looking for one more 
household!!!  A beautiful site,  abutting the woods, overlooking  the rapids, 
around the corner from The Hudson River.....

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