Re: private use of commons
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 16:19:07 -0700 (PDT)
Lynn Nadeau said:
> My vision of commons use has always been that it would always and only be
> for community projects, equally accessible to all members. A trend is
> emerging which I find disturbing. Is this "privatization" or simply an
> efficient way to get more happening on the commons and satisfy various
> members? What do you think?
<examples omitted>

Wow. The attitudes of some of your members (who won't discuss it) really
seem counter to what cohousing is supposed to be about! It would seem that
your process is breaking down in some way. We have had very good results
from having a process workshop, bringing in an outside
facilitator/consultant, about once a year or so. We do one day for the
whole community and one day with just the Facilitation team. It keeps
everybody on the same page regarding our community goals and process.
Maybe it's time for your community to try something like that?

We've been living on-site for a year. Early on, one household wanted to
build a small fence around their unit which would encompass a small bit of
community space (they were wanting to confine a dog). I don't remember the
stated reason for them wanting the extra space - it may have had to do
with the odd size of their private lot. The group vociferously opposed
turning any common space into individual use. It seemed like a slippery
slope -- what about the next person who wanted extra space to park their
trailer, build a rabbit pen, put up a storage shed, etc. Pretty soon there
would be no open space left!

(I can't remember where you are on the urban/rural spectrum. We're thirty
units on 2.5 acres smack downtown with NOT much common space; I would
suspect people in more spread out communities might have a different
approach to space than us urban folk for whom space is a rare commodity?)

> Does satisfying individual needs rank high as building community? To be
> happy here, I need to do what I want, where I want, when I want? If I
> can't, you are squashing my spirit, my creativity, and the community will
> suffer?

Boy, that balance -- the individual versus the group. The group is
composed of individuals. What is best for one individual may not be best
for the group as a whole, and vice versa. We try, in EVERY meeting and
EVERY attempt on consensus on EVERY issue, to remind ourselves that we are
attempting to decide "is this the best course of action for the community
as a whole?" versus "do I personally like this course of action best?". It
would seem to me that an attitude of "I want to do what I want, when I
want, where I want" is just not compatible with community living!

Eris Weaver

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