Deciding on a site
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2001 18:51:05 -0600 (MDT)
Cohousing in its forming state is a odd mixture of real estate development
and community building. Trying to blend these things together is oil and
water and sometimes it can be helpful for the group to keep them separate
and distinct. Deciding on a site, and what goes into that, is often the
first steps a group takes into the Real estate development side. It also is
where you move from visionary abstract conceptual to concrete and factual.
The visionary abstraction can attract a type of person that does not do
concrete factual very well. This is often an unnoticed conflict place.

As real estate developers you have several concrete elements which need to
be in place. For site selection the elements are criteria, legal, and
financial. Financial commitment and risk is a very large part of this stage
of the enterprise and this risk creates an undercurrent of feelings of fear
and vulnerability. This in turn propels people to react with sometimes
intense behaviors.

One way to select a site in a group that is divided is to simply poll for
financial commitment. Ask, who will willing to commit their financial assets
to this  site. If there is enough financial commitment, and enough committed
energy  then you move to the next steps. One step is to create a financial
member status, so those that want to stay with the group for awhile but not
invest can do so. It does not have to be, buy in or you are out.

One thing I have observed a couple of times is that once a real financial
commitment is made, it stops being a fantasy, and those people who never did
have the ability to make the commitment drop out. They would have dropped
out of ANY site chosen, because once you secure a site, it becomes a real
thing. This is not to say people with no money should not ever be part of
your group. But I would be careful as real estate developers and community
builders, not to let the community dream die because those that do not have
any assets, or don't want to make any real commitment, block the group from
moving on one.

I would also encourage those that are in a group that decides on a site you
don't like to stay in the group and learn. You can always leave later, start
a new group on a site you like, and you will have  had the benefit of the
learning experience.

Rob Sandelin
Community Works!

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