2003 Cohousing Conference - I'd Like Your Help, Please
From: Mac & Sandy Thomson (ganeshrmi.net)
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 18:11:02 -0600 (MDT)
I just sent the following post to cohousing contacts listed at cohousing.org
for completed communities.  It's a survey to gather information for a
session I'm leading at the conference in Boulder.  I'd greatly appreciate it
if any of you who live in a cohousing community completed since 1995 who
were involved in your community's development would respond to the survey.

In any case, you're all invited to this session (Building Community vs.
Community Buildings?) in Boulder!

Thanks,
Mac

=================================
Hello.  I'm Mac Thomson and I live in Heartwood Cohousing in Southwest
Colorado.  I'm writing to you because I've volunteered to lead one of the
sessions at the upcoming 2003 Cohousing Conference in Boulder and I'd like
some information to include in my presentation.

The topic of my session is "Would cohousing groups be better served spending
more time during their development stage on building community
(communication and meeting skills, relationships, celebration, etc) and less
time on design than has been the tradition thus far?"  I know it was the
case at Heartwood that we spent far more group energy working on design
issues than on building community.  Fortunately we did also spend a fair
amount of time learning to work with consensus and I feel pretty good about
our process right now, but I've also heard about many groups who have moved
in and encountered lots of agonizing issues that they've been ill prepared
to grapple with.

So, how can you help?  I'd greatly appreciate it if you (or someone else in
your community) would answer the survey below before May 31 (send reply to
ganesh [at] rmi.net).  Your answers will give me a much broader perspective on
the topic and I think, therefore, greatly enhance the session.  Your answers
will be kept confidential.  I'll use only aggregated survey results.  (Below
the survey form, I've included the survey that I filled in for Heartwood to
give you an idea of the kind of responses I'm looking for for each
question.)

I'll be joined in the discussion by Matt Worswick and Chuck Durrett, both
experienced cohousing designers.  I'd also welcome another co-presenter or
two.  I'm looking for someone who has moved into cohousing within the past 5
years, was involved in the project development (as a community member), and
would like to share their experiences regarding the balance between design
work and community building.  Please let me know if you're interested in
being a co-presenter.  Or if this topic strikes your fancy and/or you've got
experiences to share, but don't want to be a co-presenter, simply come to
the sessions; we plan to open the discussion up to plenty of audience
participation.

Thank you very much!


- Mac

P.S.  I'll be unavailable until May 25 so if you need me to respond to
anything, I'll get to it then.

*******************************************
                                  SURVEY
(please feel free to add comments liberally)
*******************************************
Your Name:  

Community Name:  

Location:  

Move-In Year:  

Number of Households:


How much time did your group spend during the development stage (pre
move-in) on each of the following?
(You can answer this in terms of actual amount of time -- hours, days, etc,
or in relative terms -- 20% for A, 10% for B, etc. totaling 100%)
A)  Communication Skills:
B)  Relationships: 
C)  Meeting Skills:
D)  Conflict Resolution:
E)  Celebration:   
F)  Site Design:   
G)  Common House Design:
H)  Private Home Design:

Did you feel that the amount of time that you spent on each was not enough,
adequate, or too much?  (Pick One)
A)  Communication Skills:  Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
B)  Relationships:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
C)  Meeting Skills:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
D)  Conflict Resolution:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
E)  Celebration:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
F)  Site Design:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
G)  Common House Design:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much
H)  Private Home Design:    Not Enough / Adequate / Too Much


How satisfied are you overall with your community's design?
Very Satisfied / Somewhat Satisfied / Not Too Satisfied / Dissatisfied

Do you think more group energy spent on design during your development would
have been worthwhile?


How satisfied are you overall with your community's decision making process?
Very Satisfied / Somewhat Satisfied / Not Too Satisfied / Dissatisfied

Do you think more group energy spent on your decision making process during
your development would have been worthwhile?


How satisfied are you overall with your community's communication, conflict
resolution, and relationships?
Very Satisfied / Somewhat Satisfied / Not Too Satisfied / Dissatisfied
 
Do you think more group energy spent on your communication, conflict
resolution, and relationships during your development would have been
worthwhile?


Additional Comments:

===============================================
> *******************************************
> MAC'S SAMPLE  SURVEY FOR HEARTWOOD
> *******************************************
> Your Name:  Mac Thomson
> 
> Community Name:  Heartwood
> 
> Location:  Southwest Colorado (rural)
> 
> Move-In Year:  2000
> 
> Number of Households:  24
> 
> 
> How much time did your group spend during the development stage (pre move-in)
> on each of the following?
> (You can answer this in terms of actual amount of time -- hours, days, etc, or
> in relative terms -- 20% for A, 10% for B, etc. totaling 100%)
> A)  Communication Skills:  4%
> B)  Relationships:  4%
> C)  Meeting Skills:  4%
> D)  Conflict Resolution:    4%
> E)  Celebration:    4%
> F)  Site Design:    20%
> G)  Common House Design:    20%
> H)  Private Home Design:    40%

We held weekend workshops for Consensus Training (communication and meeting
skills), Site Design, Common House Design, and Private Home Design (2
weekends).

> 
> Did you feel that the amount of time that you spent on each was not enough,
> adequate, or too much?  (Pick One)
> A)  Communication Skills:  Not Enough
> B)  Relationships:    Not Enough
> C)  Meeting Skills:    Not Enough
> D)  Conflict Resolution:    Not Enough
> E)  Celebration:    Not Enough
> F)  Site Design:    Too Much - Somewhat
> G)  Common House Design:    Too Much - Somewhat
> H)  Private Home Design:    Too Much - Somewhat
> 
While I felt that the design work that we did together was good insofar as
we got to know each other better and we got lots of input into the design, I
think some of that time would have been better spent on better learning
communication, meeting, and conflict resolution skills to better prepare us
for actually living together.  The Consensus Training workshop that we did
made us more cohesive than any other one thing that we did.

That would have required that we left some more of the design details up to
the cohousing professionals, but I think that would have been OK.  I
probably would have cut back most on private home design work and then
common house design work because many of the issues related to those designs
are the same for all communities so the professionals could have simply
incorporated what they learned elsewhere.

> 
> How satisfied are you overall with your community's design?
> Very Satisfied 
> 
> Do you think more group energy spent on design during your development would
> have been worthwhile?
No
> 
> 
> How satisfied are you overall with your community's decision making process?
> Somewhat Satisfied
> 
> Do you think more group energy spent on your decision making process during
> your development would have been worthwhile?
Yes
> 
> 
> How satisfied are you overall with your community's communication, conflict
> resolution, and relationships?
> Somewhat Satisfied
> 
> Do you think more group energy spent on your communication, conflict
> resolution, and relationships during your development would have been
> worthwhile?
Yes
> 
> 
> Additional Comments:
> 


-- 
Mac Thomson

Heartwood Cohousing
Southwest Colorado
http://www.heartwoodcohousing.com

"The most beautiful thing one can experience is the mysterious.  It is the
source of all true art and science.  He to whom this reaction is a stranger
-- who no longer can pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe -- is as good as
dead, his eyes are closed."
           -- Albert Einstein
**********************************************************


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