Re: "Targeting" the wealthy
From: Becky Weaver (
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 17:20:28 -0700 (PDT)
Brian wrote,   
| And no groups have formed who want to build the kind of off-the-grid
| housing that is allowed in communities like Dancing Rabbit where
| people can live in tents for $3,000 a year. It would be really
| interesting if you wanted to do that.

As someone who is willing to self-build all sorts of alternative
wierdness, I've wondered about that. Is it that the tastes of
cohousers and ecovillagers simply don't overlap? That it's banned by
zoning/permitting/licensing/publicity/etc in areas where cohos want to
be? That coho structures tend to have mortgages, which require resale
values, which requires acceptability to broad tastes?  I've done some thinking 
about this, and I think that mortgages/financing are one factor.   
  More fundamentally, for most ecovillagers, I suspect that the "eco" is 
foremost and the village is a means to that end. For most cohousers, it's the 
"co" that's foremost, and the "housing" is a means to that end. 
  Researching alternative weirdness is fun, but if your main goal is community, 
with the housing as a means to that goal, you will get the housing done much, 
much faster - possibly even prior to total community burnout - if you turn the 
design & construction over to people who do housing for a living. 
  Remember that building 30 houses plus a common house, even on a phased 
construction schedule, has a higher level of complexity than building one house 
31 times. This is a massive undertaking, not comparable to building yourself a 
custom home on your own piece of land. And building professionals have to be 
more conservative than self-builders, because they'll get sued if they choose 
something new & it doesn't perform as expected. 
  Another difference between cohousers and those who chose more "alternative" 
forms of intentional community is that, to make a broad generalization, 
cohousers are looking to enhance the lives they already have, not embark upon a 
completely new way of life. Some people, especially retirees, move to a new 
city for cohousing, but the majority of people move into cohousing while 
keeping the same job, friends, car, hobbies, and habits that they had before 
they moved into cohousing. Moving off the grid and living in a tent while 
self-building your eco-house could get pretty hairy if you were also holding 
down a full-time job and raising children. Perhaps there are hardy souls who 
have done this, and my hat's off to them, but the average cohouser isn't 
looking for that kind of challenge.  
  All that said, the "lot development" model of cohousing offers people who 
want radical alternative housing the opportunity to build it in cohousing, 
without taking the entire cohousing community down the alt-road with them. In 
that model, each household is responsible for building their own house plus 
financing a portion of the common house & infrastructure. I believe that there 
have been some interesting alternative construction techniques done on homes in 
lot development communities, although I'm not sure if any of their owners are 
on this list. 
  Becky Weaver
  Central Austin Cohousing/Kaleidoscope Village
  Austin, Texas

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