Re: The politics of cohousing
From: Matt Lawrence (matttechnoronin.com)
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2004 19:53:04 -0800 (PST)
On Sun, 5 Dec 2004, Dave & Diane wrote:

I think you've hit the nail right on the head. Your first observation is the key: "it takes time for people to realize many of the issues and to formulate their own answers"--many a time a group will get together to create "cohousing" but they haven't come to a common agreement on what that means and consequently they can't solve any of the issues that flow from that.

Actually, I think it was more analogous to "The Seven Stages of Grief". I've been researching cohousing for so many years and I've worked through many of the questions developing the answers that are correct _for me_ while they weren't even ready to acknowlege that a number of these issues actually existed.

Doing EVERYTHING by consensus does not work unless you are talking about an extremely small project--perhaps if you had only three households and you were going to buy a 3-family and subdivide it maybe consensus would work--but first you'd have to get consensus on what is consensus!

Yeah, my main disagreement with doing everything by concensus is that the experts say it's a really bad idea to not have a backup, even if the backup never gets used.

The overall impression I get from reading your e-mail is that the group you are affiliated with has no professional guidance whatsover and is comprised largely of newbies who have never built so much as a birdhouse. If they had any idea of the cost, the amount of time and the potential risks associated with a housing construction project they would at least have consulted with a few builders or developers before starting out on this venture.

Yeah, lots of apartment dwellers. I did meet a wonderful architect in the group, if I ever do build a home, he's the first person I will call.

My final piece of advice? Drop out of this group, take some time off, think about what kind of cohousing YOU want to live in and how much money you want to spend to get there. Interview some builders, developers, construction managers (if you haven't already--you sound like the kind of guy who has.) Work behind the scenes to put together your own development/project management team. Then, when you're ready, get out there and form your OWN group. I bet you'll finish your project before the group you're in has even started building.

They kicked me out after I made a comment about a member "not even bothering to call a realtor who was anxious to work with the group". Of course, this same member seemed to go out of his way to pick a fight by trying to read some subtleties into other email. I don't do subtle. In this case, I commented that I was glad that something worked for him. Somehow he took that as an attack. I meant exactly what I said, I was (happy, glad, pleased) that something worked for him. I wasn't sure if it would work for me, but that the fact that it made his life better was a good thing. No more, no less.

As far as starting a group, I have no ability to inspire folks. I'm a geek. I'm a person you want to go over the details and ask "what if?" I'm the person who will constantly be thinking of backup plans. I'm the person who will think 20 years down the road after the project is built. Valuable skills, but they really get in the way of selling the overall idea to people.

-- Matt
It's not what I know that counts, it's what I can remember in time to use.


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