Cohousing values in Conventional Condos [Was: Not selecting members in a group]
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 08:31:54 -0800 (PST)

On Jan 27, 2007, at 2:28 PM, Robert Moskowitz wrote:

Shouldn't it be possible for me to find and move
into a community, a village, a neighborhood, an apartment or condo
building, or whatever, where most of the inhabitants subscribe to
certain shared values ......

Cohousing has actually moved in this direction by building larger communities and using developers who take on the burden of doing the actual building while the community finds buyers.

I would also suggest that the Communities Association Institute (CAI) is the place to really work on such an effort beyond building your own community. Their research has shown that when people regard their building as a community they are happier and the building has much less turn over -- a big plus for building management. They also report that 4 out of 5 new housing units will be built in homeowner association controlled communities.

My own effort in this direction is to begin writing a book that explains how to use sociocracy to govern such a beast and still promote cohousing values. All the CAI literature espouses values similar to cohousing but then gives orders to the board that reinforce an autocratic, "the Board Is King (Kong)" message. They do encourage get to know you coffees, etc. but not with many teeth. In other words, keep it manageable. Keep it board controlled. Don't serve anything homemade (danger of food poisoning and lawsuits).

There have been subscribers to this list who live in conventional condos who are interested in doing what you describe. And I've lived in buildings where there was a sense of community between some residents (others removed themselves). The problem was the board who would routinely squashed things claiming that the lawyer or the insurance company wouldn't allow it.

Until there is some model for governing a cohousing community with over 100 units, I think the effort to extend cohousing to the mainstream communities will not be very effective. Inclusive governance is an oxymoron to them and lawsuits loom large.

Sharon Villines

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