RE: RetroFit Cohousing
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 09:11:01 -0600 (MDT)
On Sun, 7 Jul 2002, Chris "Kif" Scheuer wrote:

> I visited CommunityNow! in Rochester NY not too long ago, who sort of tried
> this and it would be interesting to talk with them. It appeared at the time
> of our visit that they were struggling to maintain membership and activity.

Kif, thank you for the update on CommunityNow! even if it is rather
discouraging.  I would like to hear from someone in CommunityNow!
directly also.  But indeed it is much harder to write bad news.

I have been an advocate of Retrofit Cohousing for some time.  I use that 
term (which I attribute to Kevin Wolf at N Street) to mean:

 Retrofit Cohousing is developed in existing housing by changing the way
 the occupants of that housing relate - usually with new occupants moving
 in to participate in the community.  Retrofiting the social relations and
 not necessarily the structures. 
 ( See my little Retrofit Cohousing web page at:  )
 ( )

But it has been somewhat discouraging.  There have been two promising
Retrofit Cohousing communities that have apparently / effectively
disbanded. In those, personal disagreements were major factors. The
community we were trying to build here in North Minneapolis (sometimes
called "Homewood Cohousing") has pretty much stalled. Factors in our case
are rising housing prices, few houses available, resulting small numbers
of people, busy schedules. Our efforts have resulted in some good things
in our pleasant neighborhood so I dont consider it a failed effort - just
not cohousing (yet).

Kevin's point that Retrofit Cohousing is a long term (20 years)  project
leads to the question of whether setbacks in the three communites I
mentioned are setbacks which will be overcome or not.  Who decides when a
community is defunct (for inclusing in the database for example) when
things look grim?  In the case of the communities with personal
disagreements does one take the opinion of those who have left of those
who remain?  What if only one household remains?  Sticky problem.

Despite these problems I continue to think that the retrofit approach has


> Chris Scheuer
> ----------------------------------o--------------------------------
> Master of Science Program         *              Research Assistant
> Doctoral Program in Architecture  o  Center for Sustainable Systems
> University of Michigan            *               430 E. University
> cscheuer [at]                o       Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1115
>                                   *
>                                   o             ph:    734-936-2542
>                                   *             fax:   734-647-5841
> ----------------------------------o--------------------------------

Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411   (near north Mpls)
fholson [at] 612-588-9532 (7am-10pm Cent time) 
List manager of Cohousing-L & Nbhd-tc  Ham radio:WB0YQM          
More info:

Cohousing-L mailing list
Cohousing-L [at]  Unsubscribe  and other info:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.