The effect of strong shared values in cohousing
From: Deborah Mensch (
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 09:50:51 -0800 (PST)
Hi folks,

Maybe the point I was trying to make, below, didn't come through as clearly
as I intended. I pointed out the differences between my own community and
the one in Petaluma not with wistful longing for quiet dinners with kids,
but as an example of what can happen when a community coalesces early (I
would guess during the early stages of group formation, though I don't know
if that was actually the case in Petaluma) around shared values. When that
happens, and entering members can see it and self-select based on whether
those values work for them, it looks to me like you end up with a community
that can accomplish some kinds of things that a community without those
shared values will have a MUCH harder time doing -- in this case, having
quiet dinners with happy children included.

As I think I said in my earlier post, I moved into my community on a resale
and was not part of the community formation. But I've been thinking a lot
about how communities form, and my working hypothesis is that clarifying
shared values and goals in some detail, when the group is still small, may
produce a community which will have an easier time with some aspects of
community living -- whichever aspects the shared values cover. The example I
gave was one where the shared values centered on child-rearing.

Are there others living in cohousing now, who were part of the group
formation process, and who can shed light on this hypothesis? How, in your
perception, did the stage at which your community worked on shared values
and goals affect your current ability to live in harmony?

If you agreed on and wrote down shared values and goals early, how did it
seem to affect your ability to attract new members? Do you think it slowed
you down because people selected themselves out, or perhaps speeded up group
formation because people who shared your values could see themselves so
vividly in your written statements of values and goals?

In the conversation,
Deborah Mensch

On 11/14/06, Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> wrote:

"Mydlack, Daniel J." <dmydlack [at]>
is the author of the message below.
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
after deleting the quoted digest, restoring the subject line and adding a
short, hopefully relevant top quote.

Digest subscribers - please remember to "restore" replies this way.
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

Deborah Mensch wrote:

> What distinguished the community in our conversation was the homogeneity
> of values related to child-rearing in that community. (Several families
> there have kids who attend a local Waldorf school, which implies a
> likely constellation of shared values.) When a community forms around
> the kinds of values the Petaluma community has, and which Lia describes,
> a lot of positive community influence on the children is possible in the
> areas covered by the shared values.


It's probably useful to remember that Waldorf practices are highly
coercive and indeed uniform. When Steiner invented the 'method' in 1919 he
was on a roll, engineering his own ideals of what childhood development
should be. It is probably beyond the scope of this listserve (cohousing
being the topic) but is important that folks don't get the wrong
impression that a quiet, civil meal for adults is a reasonable or healthy
situation for children.

Do reexamine your values on this one.

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