Re: Cohousing values in Conventional Condos [Was: Not selecting members in a group]
From: byron patterson (
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 16:39:58 -0800 (PST)
On  1/28/07, Byron Patterson^ byronpatterson [at]>replyed

There are truths to the writings. When shared communities are venerable
to various liabilities, communities are faced with lower standards of
Most often no one is held accountable, and victims are left isolated from
legal means of resolving the matters. So often wrong individuals are
and held accountable for someone's mistake or wrong doing. My experience
is that most property management groups are so involved in making profits,
that they don't spend the time it takes to develop the enviroment for their
residendcy. The other side, is most community residents don't have a clue
about the economic structure of their community; depending on local, state,
and federal representatives to act on their behalf, without knowledge of the
situation. I have learned you have to participate, if you want changes in
community by forming proper vehicles of communication; and protect the
vehicles of communication that have established. Also, community residents
have to disseminating the economic structure of their community to make
any changes in the communities viability or living standard.

Bottomline, bring money or any other form of capital into a community is
just not enough to establish a communities viability. Community residents
have to continue in the their exploration of develop their community, being
aware of changes that might effect their community.

On 1/28/07, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> wrote:

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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