Suddenly Everyone Will Be Ever-So-Social...NOT!
From: pattymara (
Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 09:48:01 -0700 (MST)
On Tue, 08 Jan 2002 16:01:00 -0500 Peggy MacLeod <sunraven [at]>
> I'm from Pathways Cohousing in Western Mass - 27 households. 
> Funny. You think when you move into coho suddenly everyone will be
> ever-so-social without anyone having to ACTUALLY initiate any 
> activity. 
> NOT!

I'm from Tierra Nueva, cen CA coast...and this comment is very
interesting to me.  It reminds me of a comment I heard long ago, probably
made by St. Rob:  when programming (does anyone else find this word
unsettling?) or designing your common spaces, base it on activities that
are *already* occurring among your group.   For example:  If there are
folks actively involved in folk dancing, then a good sprung floor may be
a good design feature.   Instead of:  We envision a community where T'ai
Chi happens every morning out on the south deck,  and so we need a deck,
even though we don't actually have anybody in our group that does T'ai
Chi or Chi Gong or kick boxing or stuff like that, but it sure would be
groovy if we did.    

The same holds true for socializing.  The difference between scheduled
meetings/potlucks/socials before move-in, and the everyday social
interactions that happen, or don't happen, after move-in, is is
pronounced.    We weren't prepared for it.  And many of our singles felt
lonely, excluded.   Slowly, activities began to gel, groups of
like-mindeds formed, friendships bloomed. But these things happened
organically, and with individual intention. 

I like Peggy's comment that individuals do have to actually initiate
activities.  They don't spontaneously occur, just because the
architecture supports it.  

We are still designing our common workshop (after 3+years of living here)
and have scaled down our plans for a two story 2500 sq. foot facility, to
a single story, more multi-purpose place, based on activities that are
actually occurring here on an everyday level.  We know that there are 4
private woodshops set up in garages, and that the Yoga group has met
regularly twice a week for 3 years, and that kids crafts happen maybe
once a month, or around holidays.  We're attempting to plan spaces that
accommodate these known activities, with some room for expansion, by
making the spaces as multi-purpose as possible.  It's a balancing point,
and even with the perfect design, there still will remain the fact that
activities will need to be planned and initiated and supported by the
individauls in our group, in order for the workshop to be "alive".  Not
to mention cleaned up, and maintained.  All requiring energy.  

Community is a work in progress.  Nothing just happens suddenly, just
because we've built it.

Patty Mara
Tierra Nueva, cen CA coast




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