Re: Community opportunity - Treehouse
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 16:15:02 -0600 (MDT)
On 5/20/03 4:21 PM, Johanna Halbeisen <johanna.newsong [at]> wrote:

> It is a little 
>backwards to the way co-housing communities usually develop, but I'm 
>hoping it will spark interest.  Do you have any suggestions about 
>ways to find people who might be interested?

Well, posting here on Coho-L is a great start - people do pass along 
messages and others come back later to search the archives for exactly 
such things, and we're working on ways to make them even more accessible. 
You can search them yourself for keywords like "marketing", "outreach", 
"recruitment", "recruiting", "finding new members", "advertising", and 
the like.

Your next stop might be with Coho/US, which has a database of people 
interested in Cohousing, including several hundred in MA, and thousands 
from across the country. We can get the word out through our 
e-newsletter, classified ads and community listings on our website 
( ), Cohousing magazine, the upcoming national 
conference in Boulder (highly recommended ESPECIALLY for folks at your 
stage in the process -- you can save months and thousands of dollars with 
what you can learn in a few days, the best practices and failure/success 
stories from hundreds of groups and professionals), through our contacts 
with other communities in your area and around the country (as anyone 
living in cohousing will tell you, there's never a shortage of interested 
people making inquiries!). One of our board members, John Fabel, lives at 
Pioneer Valley over in Amherst, just a stone's throw away.

It just so happens that I'll be "back East" (Unlike native Californians, 
I can get away with saying this, as I grew up near Boston) visiting 
communities in that area in a couple of weeks, while attending my partner 
Betsy's reunion at Northfield Mt. Hermon, and we might be able to meet 
up; she's an urban planner and community developer by profession, and 
quite interested in these things as well.

Certainly, make sure that communities in the area know about your plans 
and have a point of contact. You're blessed with not only being in one of 
America's "cohousing clusters" with multiple communities within a small 
area making it easier to market, get approvals, and make projects happen, 
but you have a number of great professionals like Laura that have worked 
on coho projects (and in many cases, live in cohousing), who can help you 
through the necessary steps of group formation, visioning, project 
approval and development.

Because of the existing base of cohousing communities around you, I'd bet 
that doing local marketing efforts, through local papers, flyering at 
places where prospective buyers frequent, using church, school, parents' 
and professional networks, all leading people to a website and regular 
meetings, will flush out plenty of interested potential neighbors. Just 
as most cohousing groups have found the building process greatly 
simplified and accelerated by partnering with professionals, don't 
hesitate to turn to experienced community builders and marketing 
specialists as well - you'll find several through our website.

Don't let the nontraditional path deter you! Quite a few cohousing 
communities have started with models other than the "locate site, option, 
permit, buy, build, sell" conventional practice, driven by necessity or 
intent - just look at all the "retrofit"/"organic" projects out there, in 
which development and Common House construction typically comes long 
AFTER move-in; even built projects like Berkeley cohousing started out in 
this fashion. The concept is adaptable enough to accomodate many 
different forms of development and partnerships with existing projects. 
If you can show a developer or property owner that the market is there, 
you will rapidly find them willing to accomodate whatever quirks the 
group may bring.

Good luck, and please do keep us informed of your progress!


Raines Cohen <my initials,2,dash,coho,dash,L at my first name .com>

  Member, Swan's Market Coho [Oakland, CA] <>
Where the guest room is finally done with construction - only 3 years 
late! (don't ask how many dollars over budget)

  Member, Berkeley [CA] Cohousing (elected Secretary! oh, fun.)
Where some members are participating in a citywide "cash for trash" waste 
reduction contest.

  Facilitator, East Bay Cohousing [on hiatus] <>
Where the next communities tour will be in July.

  Boardmember, Coho/US <>
The Cohousing Association of the United States, serving on the 
Communications and Membership teams.

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