RE: Acid test for community
From: Rob Sandelin (floriferousmsn.com)
Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2002 17:58:01 -0700 (MST)
It was not a community, it was a condo. The only person I talked with was
the person who gave me the tour. She was planning to move because she wanted
more connection with her neighbors, and had  learned about cohousing at the
conference. (Seattle 1997) She was disappointed that the design of the condo
had not created a more social environment.

Rob

-----Original Message-----
From: cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org
[mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org]On Behalf Of sbraun
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 4:37 PM
To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
Subject: RE: [C-L]_Acid test for community


Thanks for the response, Rob. Did the people who live in the community
you described say that they liked it?

Sheila

Project Coordinator
Champlain Valley Cohousing
www.champlainvalleycohousing.org
(802) 425-5030 phone
(802) 425-5033 fax
(802) 238-2667 cell


> -----Original Message-----
> From: cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org [mailto:cohousing-l-
> admin [at] cohousing.org] On Behalf Of Rob Sandelin
> Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 3:48 PM
> To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
> Subject: [C-L]_Acid test for community
>
> Sheila Braun thought from a post that my acid test for community is  a
> willingness to lend a car. No, it is just one sort of measure of how
well
> you know your neighbors. In pretty much every community I have
visited,
> borrowing things from one another is a normal part of community life.
The
> borrowing a cup of sugar is  a defining sign to me. When people are
> strangers, you go to the store rather than walk across the hall to
borrow
> a
> cup of sugar. This comfort level with interaction is a key base for
> understanding your level of community. If you know your neighbors, you
> have
> a base comfort level in borrowing small things from them.
>
> A car, is a much bigger thing to borrow, and is a bigger sign of
comfort
> and
> knowledge. Yes, there are people in my own community, some of whom I
have
> known for 12 years, who I would not comfortably loan my car to. But
there
> are many others who can have my keys whenever they need them.
(assuming I
> don't need it). In general, I have a base comfort system that my need
for
> a
> car is supported. I feel that if I ever should need a car or a ride, I
can
> get that fairly easily. And I have several examples over the years of
> living
> here, both giving and receiving, that supports this comfort level. My
> sister, who has lived in the same neighborhood in Seattle for 25
years,
> does not  have this. When she needed a ride last week, she called a
cab.
>
> In the condo with a social design I was  using for an example, there
were
> dozens of things which told me about the level of relationship of the
> residents. Another example was that there were picnic tables in the
nice
> grassy community commons that most the units looked over. They are
rarely
> ever used? Why? Because they were Too public. The people who lived in
this
> condo wanted their privacy. They were apparently uncomfortable being
out
> in
> the social space. In many places in America, neighborhood social
isolation
> has become an astonishing norm in many suburban places. As cohousers,
we
> are
> some kind of weirdos. We CHOOSE to interact with our neighbors, in
fact,
> we
> want it so much, some of us spend incredible amounts of energy and
time to
> design and build social interaction based neighborhoods from the
ground
> up.
> News teams come and do stories on how we are bucking the trends. It's
> newsworthy that neighborhood social interaction is desired and
> accomplished
> by some people. But the norm is isolation.
>
> There have been numerous stories over the years on this list, at
cohousing
> gatherings, etc to illustrate how easy cohousers find asking their
> neighbors
> for various levels of support. Sometimes of course the answer to
asking is
> No, but asking is typically not really a huge barrier, especially at
the
> cup
> of sugar level. I would say that the comfort level you have in asking
your
> neighbors for support you need is a an ingredient that defines the
social
> fabric of your community. And of course, the giving of support is
another.
> What you do for each other says a lot about the level of what I would
call
> "community". Community meals are a prime example of this. Yes, there
is a
> self-serving part to community meals. But it is also a large community
> service.
>
> So the ability to borrow a car is just one way to understand a level
of
> community. And of course, the place I was describing was NOT a
community
> by
> intention. It was just a nicely designed condo and it was a prime
example,
> in my learning, of how little architecture determines community level.
I
> know there are people who have this strong belief system that
architecture
> is a key element of community. Many of them are architects and I have
> argued
> with  them for years. From my experiences, just putting people
together
> does
> not make them a "community". They have to want to be a community, want
to
> have relationships enough to put some energy into it. Yes, you can
create
> a
> nice social design, but if the people who live there don't want to be
> social, then your design will not create the interaction, other than
at a
> very superficial level. I would dare to opine that cohousing has
> aspirations
> to be much more than superficially social. The social design elements
> built
> into cohousing projects work because we want to be social in the first
> place, and so creating designs to enhance social opportunity make it
> easier
> to do what we already strongly desire.
>
>
> Rob Sandelin
> Sharingwood
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org
> [mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org]On Behalf Of sbraun
> Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 5:16 AM
> To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
> Subject: RE: [C-L]_Do cohousers care about "bricks and sticks"?
>
>
> Hi Rob.
>
> Thanks for your interesting and enjoyable posts to this list. I really
> enjoy reading them.
>
> However, here we disagree, I think. It sounds like your acid test for
> community is a willingness to share cars. My own would be laughter.
But
> a red flag goes up for me when an outsider makes a judgment about
> another community, or even makes a general judgment about what
community
> should be. There is a hint of superiority about that.
>
> I wonder if there aren't people out there for whom what you call "just
a
> condo" is really and truly deeply satisfying and life-enriching, and
for
> whom the kind of community you find fulfilling would seem like a
prison.
> There are many paths to happiness and fulfillment. We cohousers don't
> have a corner on the right way to live.
>
> Sheila
>
> Project Coordinator
> Champlain Valley Cohousing
> www.champlainvalleycohousing.org
> (802) 425-5030 phone
> (802) 425-5033 fax
> (802) 238-2667 cell
>
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org [mailto:cohousing-l-
> > admin [at] cohousing.org] On Behalf Of Rob Sandelin
> > Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 6:49 PM
> > To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
> > Subject: RE: [C-L]_Do cohousers care about "bricks and sticks"?
> >
> > I can show you a condo in Bellevue WA that has a brilliant cohousing
> > design,
> > pedestrian core, play area, nice community center that is central
and
> easy
> > to look into from almost every unit. It even has a nice kitchen,
> although
> > not industrial grade.  It has very little community. The neighbors
are
> > pretty much still strangers, some after 5 years. It is nothing like
a
> > cohousing community in terms of relationships. I asked my guide
there
> if
> > she
> > felt comfortable asking to borrow a car. She looked at me like I was
> from
> > Mars. There is nothing there but the typical condo.
> >
> >  So sorry, I do not believe in bricks and sticks having much to do
> with
> > community. Its not the architecture, its the people and their
desires
> and
> > intentions that make cohousing what it is, a community by intention.
> > There
> > are hundreds of Intentional communities that are not cohousing,that
> have
> > good relationships and totally isolating architecture. If
architecture
> > really was the key why do those places work? Because it is the
> intentions
> > of
> > the people do have those relationships. Take away that intention for
> > relationship from cohousing, and all you have left is a condo. In
> fact, at
> > least one cohousing group, common ground in Aspen, lost its
intention
> and
> > became just another condo. There are a couple other cohousing groups
> which
> > have large percentage of the people who live there not involved,
> > apparently
> > uninterested in community. They just want a  safe, cheap place to
> live. It
> > will interesting to see if those cohousing groups also don't just
end
> up
> > as
> > condos.
> >
> > Rob Sandelin
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org
> > [mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at] cohousing.org]On Behalf Of Sharon Villines
> > Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 8:36 AM
> > To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
> > Subject: Re: [C-L]_Do cohousers care about "bricks and sticks"?
> >
> >
> > On 11/20/02 2:12 PM, "Howard Landman" <howard [at] polyamory.org> wrote:
> >
> > > I believe that the design of the community can have an immense
> > > impact on the day-to-day functioning of it.  Even something as
> simple as
> > > having the common house in the middle versus on one end can make a
> huge
> > > difference.
> >
> > The bricks and sticks are important as long as they are related to a
> > deeper
> > value, building economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable
> > communities. Intelligent investment in our personal spaces is a very
> > fundamental way of putting our money (time and thought) where our
> mouth
> > is.
> > Along with our hearts and feet.
> >
> > The bricks and sticks are one of the unique and defining
> characteristics
> > of
> > cohousing.
> >
> > Sharon
> > --
> > Sharon Villines
> > Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> > http://www.takomavillage.org
> >
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