Re: "have kids" "have nots" fighting over site
From: Diane Simpson (
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2001 20:20:02 -0600 (MDT)
Dear Shelly:

You are indeed right about your gut feelings about the orginal plan.  Gwen
Noyes, the developer of Cambridge Cohousing, said a long time ago at a
Boston Cohousing Network Meeting [paraphrase] "Someone has to plant a pole
in the ground and say 'cohousing is going to happen HERE.'"

In my opinion you should have decided on a site when the group was fairly
small and then recruited around that site.  But that's all water under the

A word to the wise about schools: DON'T make assumptions that 'all schools
are bad' in a certain town based on generalized assumptions, test scores,
or hearsay.  Get out there and do your homework!  Study the options!  Meet
with school personnel.  Find out what programs are available in each
school.  Look at classroom size. Talk to parents who are sending their kids
to these schools and get their opinions.  See if there is a home-schooling
network in your area. Find out how many private schools are available in
the area and calculate the cost sending the children to those schools if
you choose the lower-priced area with the supposedly "bad" schools.  It's
going to largely be determined by family size--large familes benefit from
going to the "higher-priced 'good' schools" town but it will probably be a
negative or a wash for families with two kids or fewer.

We ran into the same problem in Jamaica Plain regarding the Boston Public
Schools.  The negative publicity surrounding the Boston Public Schools has
been horrendous.  When busing was introduced about 20 years ago, a lot of
middle class whites abandoned the city.  The public schools became the
domain of people who couldn't afford to move.  Minorities predominated in
the school system.  Average test score plummeted. The cycle became
self-perpetuating when newly arrived white middle-class parents looked at
the test scores and said "Wow!  All these children are failing!  The
schools must be bad!"

Unfortunately, the good news about the Boston Public Schools has been a lot
slower to get out.  There are a lot more choices now.  We have Pilot
Schools (run by the city) and Charter Schools (run by the state) which use
public funds but are operated under a different set-up.  Check and see if
there is anything similar in the Hartford area.

I would also advise you to do some research on the effect of the child's
home situation on school performance.  I think it's a fairly well
recognized fact that children who do not have supportive parents or
resources at home that encourage them to study are much more likely to do
poorly in school.  How do you separate the parental upbringing from school
performance when so many kids in the "good" school district are also likely
to have a much more supportive home environment?

As for selecting a site at this point, where there is such a wide
divergence of opinion bordering on polarization, I would say you will have
to accept the fact that you need to hire a trained facilitator to help you
through the site selection process.  I have amassed a huge list of trained
facilitators through my research on finding a person to lead our group in a
Vision Workshop, and I will be happy to pass that list on to you if you so

In order to keep the entire group together both factions will have to give
some ground.  I don't think you'll be able to settle on one site that
completely satisfies everyone.  But you are the founder of the group and I
know you have done the lions' share of the work, because I have seen your
posts on this list many times. Ultimately the group will have to realize
that if they choose a site you are unhappy with, they will have to start
over again and find a new leader.  Perhaps staring that reality in the face
will make them simmer down a bit and sit down at the bargaining table.



>From: "Shelly Demeo" <shelldemeo [at]> wrote:

>Two years ago..(though it feels like 10) when I hung up my first
>cohousing flier in this state, I wanted to pick my favorite town and
>call it Canton Cohousing and see who showed up for the first meeting.
>I was advised by a cohousing consultant not to do that, but instead to
>cast as wide a net as possible.  Reluctantly, I called it Greater
>Hartford Cohousing and scattered my fliers  around various towns.  In
>retrospect, I should have stuck to my original plan.
>If anyone has ideas on how a group of ten households with totally =
>different viewpoints, etc. can come together on one site...please let us =
>know.  Our meeting is Monday and I would like to share any responses we =

    @@                 coho [at]                     @@
   @@@@       Diane Simpson          @@@@
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