Re: diversity recruitment
From: Jayne Kulikauskas (
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2002 10:55:02 -0700 (MST)
Tree Bressen <tree [at]> writes:

> Dear Jayne,
> >We have discussed this at meetings.  Everyone likes the idea of
> >diversity of age, race, religion, social class and sexual
> >orientation but we don't have many ideas about how to bring it
> >about.  We wouldn't consider setting quotas so we are pretty much
> >hoping it will just happen.
> From what i've seen, the best chances for diversity are to incorporate it
> as a core value and act on it early, preferably from the beginning of a
> project.  How much time do you spend in settings where everyone has a
> different skin color than yours?

 Right now we are at a labour and time intensive stage of setting up
our community.  I don't know how much time any of has for settings
other than our jobs or community meetings.  I, personally, am a stay
at home mother.  I spend most of my time with my children, all of
whom look very much like me.

>  In order to really have an effect on
> diversity issues, people who are in the "dominant" group need to take
> actions such as: (a) educating themselves about their unconscious biases
> and what the experiences are of people different from themselves; (b)
> putting energy into working on the issues that are important to those in
> the less dominant group; and (c) building genuine close relationships with
> people different from themselves.

Even though I don't get out much, I have used internet discussion
groups to learn about the experiences and issues of some groups that
are different from me.  A bit of this has transferred into real life
such that I now have some involvement with local LBGT organizations.
But there are still a lot of groups out there that I don't know very
much about. It probably isn't even possible to learn about them all. 
The majority of people are not in the dominant group.
>  Word of mouth is by far the most
> important recruiting tool for forming communities--so ask yourself, who are
> you talking with regularly?

If I only include face to face talking, then it I most often talk
with other La Lache League and homeschooling mothers.  I need the
support for my parenting choices.

> It's also important to ask whether there are institutional barriers
> preventing diversity at your community.  For instance, a few cohousing
> communities have prioritized putting in the extra energy it takes to have
> some units be more economically accessible, but most don't.  If your group
> is not going to put in that kind of energy, it's probably not realistic to
> expect diversity.

We are planning to include some low-income rental units eventually,
but don't see any way to do this until we are more established.

>  Similarly, if the founders already have the vision set
> enough that someone else would be joining "your thing" rather than you
> co-creating something with them, that's already a big barrier in place.

Whole Village is an ecovillage which is a specialized form of
cohousing.  We are automatically not diverse as far as it concerns
supporting organic agriculture and living sustainably.  That is a
requirement for joining.  Most of the members have some sort of
involvement in environmental issues.  Still, we want diversity in
other areas.

BTW, we are in Canada (about an hour and half from Toronto) so the
racial issues are different than in the US and probably some of
the other ones too.

> Hope i'm not on too much of a soapbox here, it's an issue i've spent a lot
> of time thinking about, ever since i was the co-guest editor of the spring
> '96 Communities magazine theme issue on "Diversity."

I love getting input from people who have put a lot of thought into
a subject. Thanks for writing.

Jayne Kulikauskas
 member of Whole Village: Sustainable Farm Community
  currently under development - see
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