Re: Achieving age diversity
From: Deborah Mensch (
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 2006 20:45:12 -0800 (PST)
I haven't yet been part of a forming community, but I can tell you a bit
about being a parent. Whether child care is offered (and advertised) as part
of a gathering has a huge effect on how likely I am to go. Having meetings
at a facility with a room designed for children, such as a church meeting
room with a nursery or playroom next door, can increase the level of
confidence in the child care versus having it in a non-childproofed home.

The rest of this is my thought on targeting parents with your marketing.
Others may have more to say.

Churches, temples, etc., can be a good place to find parents interested in
community. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Unitarian-Universalists (UUs) are
disproportionately represented in at least some of the cohousing
communities, in part because of outreach through church newsletters, email
lists, and word of mouth. (There's also a lot of overlap between UUs and
people interested in living in community.) And churches with strong programs
for children and youth are likely to be populated by a lot of parents who
are there, at least in part, to give their families and children a solid
sense of community. Since this is also a benefit of cohousing, you do the
math. If you hold your meeting at a church, ask whether their regular child
care workers are available to provide care for the meeting -- then you'd
have someone that some of the parents would already know and trust.

You might also consider outreach in locations where parents take children
specifically to get them in contact with other kids -- community centers
with activities for preschoolers, libraries with read-aloud times, YMCAs and
religious institutions with summer activities, martial arts dojos with lots
of kids' classes, etc. Most parents *have* to take their kids to doctors and
schools, but parents actively interested in connecting their kids with
others (as those who want to be in cohousing are) may be more concentrated
in places that help them connect even if they are stay-at-home parents or
are homeschooling. Also check specifically for charter schools and private
schools in your area that place emphasis on community, such as Waldorf
schools or Sudbury schools.

And on quotas: I moved into Pleasant Hill Cohousing five years after the
initial move-in, so I don't know all the specifics, but I believe there was
a quota system for different types of families. The family types may have
been parents with children, couples without children (or with grown
children), and single people -- but I may be remembering that incorrectly.
Perhaps someone else from PHCH can improve on my knowledge.

-Deborah Mensch
Pleasant Hill Cohousing
Pleasant Hill (San Francisco Bay Area), California

On 11/5/06, Barbara Sarah <bsarah [at]> wrote:

We are now recruiting new prospective residents for our 30-36 unit project
in Rosendale, NY. We'd like to know how other communities have been able to
achieve an equitable mix of ages - families and older people without
children. We are doing outreach to schools. pediatricians, etc., yet still
are finding it much easier to attract people over 55 years to our meetings.
Have any of you designed quotas? If so, what kind? Do they work? All
suggestions appreciated.
Barbara Sarah
Ulster County (Rosendale, NY) Cohousing

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