Re: so is it cohousing? Richdale Place in Cambridge, MA
From: Tree Bressen (treeic.org)
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 21:34:20 -0800 (PST)
Hi,

Raines wrote:
It's virtually nextdoor to Cambridge Cohousing, being developed by
Cambridge Cohousing's developer (and resident) Gwendolyn Noyes. It's
developer-driven, with community-building as part of the process,
developer-sponsored monthly meetings of future residents with a
trained facilitator, training investment, etc.

My answer would be "yes"... what's yours?

  I'd be very curious about how it gets marketed, whether they do
outreach to cohousing channels, and whether they get into common
meals right from the get-go.

I taught a workshop at Yulupa recently, in Santa Rosa, CA. That's a community that seemed to be more developer-driven than most existing cohousing in how it was created. They are about a year past move-in now, and having been skeptical initially, i'm now impressed with how well it's going there. When i inquired as to what led to their success, one response that i think is key was that Alexandra Hart (the wife of architect Michael Black, both of whom live in the community now), who met with all prospective new members, told them something like: "We don't have a formal work-share policy in place yet, but most cohousing groups seem to average about 15 hours of work per member per month into the community, so we expect our place will be about the same." What a great filter!

They also created an expectation of common meals from the get-go. Raines wonders if this new group will get into common meals from the start . . . my guess is that if a group doesn't do it from the start, then the chances of ever doing it are really low. I mean, they might get a weekly or monthly potluck in place attended by some small-to-medium portion of the members, and that's a lot better than the average neighborhood or apt. building. But it's a much less entwined sense of community than what results from multiple cooked common meals per week--along with the work expectations, self-management by residents, whole group decision-making, and service on committees that are typical of cohousing.

Like some others who have written in on this thread, i'm excited about finding ways to create a whole lot more community living in this country. While there is a natural temptation among those familiar with the concept to pass judgment on what we think is or isn't "cohousing," i think i'd rather put my energy into supporting groups to cultivate more sense of community and connection, *wherever* they are on the spectrum of more or less communal, than worry about who doesn't fit my image or the official guidelines. I think we are learning that the terms and categories of "community living/cohousing" and "developer-driven" are both more suited to a spectrum model than a box for yes or no. Which doesn't mean there isn't a place for being careful about how the term cohousing gets thrown around (i can imagine a day when the word "cohousing" gets co-opted in a "greenwashy" kind of way--something to look forward to, perhaps?). . . . Just my $.02.

Cheers,

--Tree



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