Re: Some advice for forming communities
From: Kevin Wolf (
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 21:51:02 -0700 (MST)
I agree with your thought to let a lot of day to day living together policy issues go until people live together. I suggest go further and wait until a policy is needed because a problem has arisen. Be sure the community has a way to encourage people to acknowledge problems when they arise and have a safe way for the impacted people to get them addressed. The big issues that a community should deal with early are in the goals, values and design of the community and common house. Do these well and policy issues won't be big problems.

For example, at N Street, the garage was converted to a piano, TV, kids play room during community meals, and meeting room with sofas, art gallery etc. (The sofas are allowed to be jumped on until age 7 or 8. The seven year olds are changing their mind now that they near age 8, which was the age they agreed they could no longer jump on the furniture.) The use of the TV has evolved a lot over the last ten years it has been here. It continues to change. For example a 12 year old in the community (age 12) who lived in the common house half time with his divorced dad (he spends the other half time at his mom about 4 houses a way), watches the Simpsons and another show for an hour almost every afternoon. He got in the habit while living there and his dad doesn't have a TV so that is where he goes. His parents allow him to, it doesn't interfere with anyone else's use (except for my daughter who would like to watch her half hour a day of TV at the same time but a different show), The community is fine with it. Our policy is that you are not allowed to be in the common house playing or watching TV without your parents' permission.

The lessons I learned from living here about TV and policies in general are:

* if you have a TV, put it in a room that can be closed and not interfere with the rest of the common space.

*  have common values such as
- we don't like TV watching and what it does to kids but all things in moderation.
        - parents and kids work out their own parental oversight responsibility

*  have common goals and strategies - such as
- we all would prefer that our kids not watch TV so we help make sure they have lots of opportunity to be with other kids (and adults) and having fun together so that they don't want to watch TV

If you design the common house wrong, or buy into a community with great diversity in values and goals, TV use policy can become a difficult issue.


Kevin Wolf
N Street Cohousing Community member
724 N St, Davis, CA  95616
kjwolf [at]

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