how can a new group use existing knowledge?
From: Andrew Netherton (
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 09:18:19 -0800 (PST)
As someone participating in what can only be described as a brand-new
group (Laurel Creek Commons in Waterloo, ON, Canada), Sharon's post
(relevant points below) makes good sense to me.  Cohousing isn't new,
so why should we expect to fight all the same battles as the hundreds
that have come before us?  Yes, we will still have the standard
growing pains of a group coming together, but shouldn't the rest of
the process be pretty much ironed out now?

So, how can we, a new group just now considering a membership
structure and decision process, reap the benefit of all the
accumulated knowledge out there?  Is it as simple as hiring a
cohousing consultant?  Is it as complex as visiting communities we
want to emulate, and learning from their history?  Something in
between, or altogether different?  A checklist?

You're absolutely right, Sharon - I see no need to push back our
move-in date by years by starting from square one.  If I want to
achieve my (admittedly optimistic) move-in date of 2010, we've got to
get a move on.  Square one has been well-visited - so now I'd like to
figure out who's visited it, and how they can help us.  Where are the
cohousing sherpas?

If there are any cohousing consultants that would like to make a pitch
and/or hear about where Laurel Creek Commons currently stands, please
e-mail me directly at andrewnetherton [at]  Thank you.

Andrew Netherton
Laurel Creek Commons (where we're enjoying the now-weekly potlucks)
Waterloo, ON, Canada

My experience was interesting to me. I found that I could not start
from scratch with inexperienced people again. I just couldn't go
through the endless discussions over aim statements, ideas for meal
programs, idealistic projections of building costs, etc., etc, etc.,
when I felt I knew where they were all going to end up. After you do
this once, you learn what is possible and what is just not.

There is a saying in business that the pioneers are the ones with
arrows in their backs -- meaning innovations can get you dead as well
as rich. Stick to the tried and true. We know there are a lot of
cohousing people and groups out there with arrows in their backs. They
either failed or spent many years and wasted a lot of money building
their dream.

In cohousing we now know what is tried and true. The early groups
figured that out. Some are now 20+ years old. Why does every group have
to start from scratch with a pot luck between friends and strangers?

Sharon Villines

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