Re: Anecdotes for Diana Christians new book
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2006 14:24:37 -0700 (PDT)
Lets remain clear that there is considerable diversity within what is called
"cohousing" - there are also groups (like Songaia Cohousing) that are very
intentional about developing a culture of sustainability, that share their
spirit lives, that honor individuals, family, and community, that commit to
lifelong learning, that share responsibility for our community's welfare,
and  that reach out to others. Unfortunately, these are not mainstream
values and some expressions of these values may well be seen by others as
being incompatible with their vision of cohousing, which must be
inoffensively inclusive of all "mainstream" people.

Songaia Values Statement

Although some of us at Songaia are rather conventional in many respects, e.g.
mostly middle-class careers, "normal" religions, typical family dynamics, we
have sometimes been labeled as being awfully "intentional" for cohousing....
Since I joined the Coho/US board, I've been traveling about visiting
cohousing communities and getting to know some really fine folk in the
Cohousing "leadership" world - mostly names you recognize from this
ListServ, from the Coho/US Board (past and present), book authors,
developers, architects, etc. I've now heard MANY titillating,
provocative stories
which feature decidedly non-mainstream lifestyles and topics - some can be
found (or hinted at around the edges) in Dave Wann's book:

Reinventing Community: Stories from the Walkways of Cohousing*

Interestingly, some of these stories come from communities where some
community members are very uptight and vocal about their community's
identity or the identity of cohousing as a movement or industry. I'm tempted
to say "Get real... why pretend that you and your community are so
mainstream when your community is filled with non-traditional folks who live
a variety of creative lifestyles - including you"  --- then I remind myself
to chill out and relax. For we're all just trying to do the best we can
given the baggage we all carry.

In my vision, cohousing is a movement which embraces a diversity of
lifestyles, which has at least the possibility of including, my oh my,
public nudity if the community agrees to that (and some have around hot
tubs). Is it that important to so carefully avoid scaring away ANY potential
BUYER that this should not be discussed on this ListServ? Of course people
who are trying to sell a cohousing unit will be very cautious about
communicating anything that might hurt a sale. Some people, who badly want
the INDUSTRY to grow are very concerned about anything that might get in the
way. Relax... Breath

There are those of us in the movement that are continuing to create local
cultures and are not trying to SELL units -  we may have finished with that
work or may have come to realize that we are looking for new members that
believe that our values are consistent with theirs.

There is no doubt that any non-conventional thing your community might
choose to embrace can potentially limit your market - but my community,
Songaia, is not about markets, it is about values and people who embrace our
values. It is about people who aspire to lifestyles which are substantive,
which matter, which are good. It is about creating a real place that grows
in value - not its economic value (although that's happening too), but
rather a place where the Songaia people, our land with its buildings,
plants, and animals all grow a rich, interdependent web of relationship. We
continue to actively deepen our sense of place and community.

"Cohousing" is just a label and its reality is inclusive of people of
varying degrees of "mainstream" and "non-mainstream" values and lifestyles.
Attempts to define it or the conversation about it as being totally
mainstream will fail - or at least a bunch of us out here will continue to
use the label and grow our local cultures which include lots of
non-mainstream values, ideas, and behaviors.

{shaking my head in sadness about the idea of communities must be fearful
about hugs}

Craig Ragland

P.S. Please come to the National Cohousing Conference in July ( where this conversation will
continue in heart-felt ways.

On 6/1/06, Dave and Diane < daveanddee [at]> wrote:

Yes, I have to agree with Joani's post. We had one person who dropped
out after we did a group hug at the end of a meeting.

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