Re: more perspective on rules and regs
From: Robert Moskowitz (
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 13:26:20 -0700 (PDT)

There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days on rules and regulations, which I have found interesting and enlightening. But I haven't seen anybody yet say something which I think is very sensible and not widely understood about rules and regulations. So I'm going to say it:

Many years ago, I lived in Philadelphia and knew a bunch of social workers. At the time, the State passed a law covering babies in child care centers: mandating how many times a day they had to be picked up, and so forth.

I vehemently ridiculed and criticized this law to my social worker friends, saying it wasn't possible or sensible to tell someone how often a baby needed to be picked up, and making similar arguments about all the other provisions of the law, too.

That's when one of my friends told me the wisdom of this kind of rule.

"It's not," she told me, "so I can watch how a particular day care center operates and cite them for not picking up the babies often enough. It's so I can go into a day care center and see that they're doing a terrible job of caring for the children there, and then have something concrete to point to as a reason for closing them down."

In other words, no one was going to close down a day care center simply because they weren't following the letter of the law. Instead, they would make reasonable judgment calls about which were the good day care centers and which were not, and then would use the law only as ammunition to close down the bad day care centers.

In the same way, cohousing rules and regulations should not be written to specify and control how many times a week a person has to wash a dish or how she uses the community room. They should be written to be used as concrete reasons to institute sanctions against cohousing members who aren't cooperating, aren't participating, and aren't generally doing a "good job" of being part of the community.

Once you understand this, you recognize that you don't have to anticipate or specify every detail of what is required of good cohousing participants. You only have to draw lines in the sand so that someone who isn't a good cohousing participant can be cited for the concrete act of stepping over them.

To my mind, this perspective changes the whole role of rules and regulations in the community.

Your thoughts?


Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.