Re: cohousing for older people-and were you in Women's Liberation?
From: Charlotte Allen (
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 07:23:03 -0600 (MDT)

You can find the article "The Politics of Housework" by Pat Mainardi, along with almost every
other seminal feminist short text, in a book titled "Dear Sisters", edited by Rosalyn Baxandall
and Linda Gordon. It also has The Tyranny of Structurelessness. I love this anthology: it
reminds me of the exciting times we had trying to change the world.

Charlotte Allen

C2pattee [at] wrote:

Message: 6
From: Forbes Jan <jan.forbes [at]>
To: "'cohousing-l [at]'" <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: RE: [C-L]_cohousing for older people
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 12:15:49 +1000
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at]

Thanks for this Christine.  I've printed it out for future reference.

Like you I prefer intergenerational communities where there are kids around.
It sounds like your mother had that where she lived, with the grandkids.

Terms like aged and elderly are only perjorative if we see them that way.
The more positive we feel about being older ourselves the less unpleasant
the connotations.  And the research shows that older people tend to be
happier and enjoy life more than when they were younger.  In a recent
population survey done here in Tasmania called the Healthy Communities
Survey retired people reported a higher quality of life and higher
satisfaction with life than younger people.

Have you seen the Gergens' Positive Aging web site?  It's a US site.
Inspiring stuff.

How many older people are there in your community?

Can you tell me more about Crones R Us?  How many from inside or outside
your cohousing group?


My community, Greater Hartford (Connecticut) Cohousing, started just two
years ago, and we are presently in an active land search.

We're an interesting configuration - six single women, none of whom have
biological children, and two two-parent families with young children.
Knowing how important the school system is to families with children, we
quickly and with little debate, rated the schools in our 37 town area,
looking for land only in those above the midline.  (For those of you who are
statistics minded, we were able to compile the ratings from the detailed
outcome measures-such as graduation rates and mastery test scores, provided
by the state education dept. for each school system.)

I'm probably the oldest person in the community (at 59 and 3/4) but there's
one other member in the same decade.  As for  Crones R Us, it's a group
completely separate from cohousing.  We got started a few years ago when a
friend, then approaching 50, decided she wanted to sit around with other
women and share the experience we were all going through.  As most of us came
out of the Women's Movement, we found it appealing to take back ouir heritage
as 'crones' - wise women of the world.

This train of thought puts a question in my mind that I'd like to throw out
to the group.  How many of you were involved in the Women's Movement, or what
used to be called Women's Liberation?  I've been struck by the similarity of
coho process - emphasis on consensus, de-emphasis on leadership, strong
reliance on group norms - and the way our women's groups worked in the '70s.

In 1970, Jo Freeman wrote a widely reprinted article, The Tyranny of
Structurelessness, about it.  Here is her opening paragraph.  "During the
years in which the women's liberation movement has been taking shape, a great
emphasis has been placed on what are called leaderless, structureless groups
as the main form of the movement. The source of this idea was a natural
reaction against the overstructured society in which most of us found
ourselves, the inevitable control this gave others over our lives, and the
continual elitism of the Left and similar groups among those who were
supposedly fighting this over-structuredness."  (The whole article can be
found at )

It's fascinating to think about the fundamental ways our lives were affected
by women sitting around in circles, sharing the facts of our lives.  The next
article I want to track down is Pat Mainardi's "The Politics of Housework".

Christine Pattee
Greater Hartford CT Cohousing
c2pattee [at]

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