Re: Development Financial Structure
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 13:51:01 -0700 (MST)
On 11/19/02 2:58 PM, "Jeff Coffin" <jcoffin [at]> wrote:

> If by "you have made all the decisions" you mean the site, common
> house and unit planning, then yeah, that's what we're setting up.  I
> do not expect that we'll make all the decisions "about the community
> and how it will be" before we move in.  I fully expect to tune and
> tweak ad nauseum over time; with more members being added as soon as
> we start getting the palns in front of the city.

Community members need to make decisions together because decision making
forces them to understand all their values in and to learn how to work out
conflicts. But there is no lack of decision-making opportunities in
cohousing. Any time you want to  make a decision, there will be at least a
dozen to choose from. If we started listing decisions that various
communities are facing today, it would go on for a week and all our
mailboxes would stuffed.

As long as there is a core large enough to plan a building that will be
acceptable to a wide variety of potential members, there is no reason they
shouldn't go ahead and plan it. In truth there are only so many alternatives
to choose from. Most decisions are dictated by money, timing, site location,
zoning, building regulations, etc. And many of them will have to be remade
later anyway. If not in 5 years, 10.

We come together as a developer driven community and were moved in in record
time. But of the people who discovered after move-in that the community
didn't work like they expected it to, I see no correlation between first
joiners and late comers. People who were very active in the group formation
for three years before they moved in have expresses the same levels of
satisfaction and dissatisfaction as those who moved in less than a year
after joining when "all the decisions" had been made. Some spouses who were
very apprehensive about moving in and had almost no contact with the group
before moving in, have become very active and happy members.

While community development is essential and community control over the
whole living experience is essential, I don¹t think full control over the
building process is as important as many of the early groups felt it was.

Once you move in, you start assuming your place and your responsibilities in
the community in the same way you do before move in. The measure is more
likely to be the length of time together and the degree of engagement during
that time, not whether you were engaged in choosing bathroom tile or not.

Bringing this back to the  topic of financial structure, insisting that
everyone has to participate in all the decisions and the whole group has to
form and then build a complex, will doom the endeavor.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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