Diversity - economic and ethnic/racial [was: Re: Resale Policy
From: Fred H Olson (fholsoncohousing.org)
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 13:38:02 -0700 (MST)
Jennifer , jle7001 [at] att.net is the author of the message below. 
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at] cohousing.org> 
because the message was over 12K  (quoted a digest)
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Howard's post on the push for diversity both in economics and ethnic or
racial diversity is interesting. I read it and thought, yeah, most of our
concern (within the community we're attempting to develop here in Northern
California) is with having economically poorer/working class folks in the
community. Is this "reverse classism"? i don't think so, the reality is
that in most co- housing that i've looked at, read about, etc. "wealthier"
people already abundantly exist. If you live in a household that makes
over about $85,000 you are in the top 12 percent of the nations earners.
Fact. So, co-housing tends to already have wealthier people. We don't like
to acknowledge that because, like other Americans, most of us have been
raised to see ourselves as firmly "middle class" - suggest that we are in
the top 10 or 12% of the population and people's hackles raise. So, no, in
our community we're not particularly concerned with attracting people in
the say, top 1-5% of the earners, or people with deep "wealth." I don't
see wanting to live in a mixed-class neighborhood as about having some
idea about the nobility of the poor. I see it as having a community that
more accurately represents the larger state of the economy and world. The
mythology of classlessness in the US keeps us blind to the actual state of
economics - wealth and income distribution are not acceptable party
conversation. I don't think of having mixed-income communities as charity
- i think of it as creating a community that is real - where i see, live
with, talk to, love and don't shy away from the situations that the
economy i participate in, and through which i make a decent income,
creates. I think mixed-class communities are richer, in experience and
reality. i want that in my life.

As for ethnic diversity - same goes. According to all sorts of research,
WHITE people are the ones least willing to live with people not defined as
white. No other group demonstrates as much resistance to not only living
in communities with other groups, but dating, marrying, etc. Yes, ethnic
enclaves are wonderful vital places - remember that many of them exist
because those who lived there were prohibited, through legal
discrimination and extra-legal acts of terrorism, denial of loans, etc.,
from living anywhere else. White enclaves are the most prevalent, not
enclaves of folks of color. Given that whites disproportionately have
access to good jobs, and most jobs (still) are filled through word of
mouth connections, such white enclaves are a problem if you are interested
in creating a more just world. I believe that most cohousers believe in
some forms of social justice - as Howard points out - the loaning process,
etc is not set up to allow much mixed-class projects. keep those people
separate (especially concerning race and ethnicity)! that has been housing
policy (originally official policy of the government - VHA, FHA) for a
long time. So, groups that really, and successfully, create diverse living
environments - kudos to you! for all of us, it's something to look at.

Respectfully, Jennifer
Be the change you wish to see
in others. (Ghandi) 

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