Re: so is it cohousing? Richdale Place in Cambridge, MA
From: Dirk Herr-Hoyman (
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 06:30:48 -0800 (PST)

On Feb 8, 2007, at 8:32 PM, Tree Bressen wrote:

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.

On Feb 8, 2007, at 10:30 AM, Sharon Villines wrote:
All the early stuff probably does weed some people out just based on
personality. But the after move-in phase is so different from the
pre-move in phase that I'm not so sure anymore that the long
pre-move-in phase does anything more than create a less diverse group.
I think with all the tools available from built communities, and with
very clear bylaws and community agreements, people could hit the ground
running and still be cohousing. And many of these agreements could be
crafted based on an initial plan by a developing group (or a developer)
to be amended down the line as the community ages.

Reflecting on these comments, my own interest is in sustainable
community living.  You only get one shot at the initial development
and the community formation.  What happens over time, when the original
owners move or die?  It's a similar question to what happens to
neighborhoods or what happens to any human community.  I'm looking for
what happens to the 2nd generation, when all the pioneers are gone
and the arrows in their back are in the oral tradition. If you reach the
3rd generation, then perhaps we'd have confidence this was going
to last over time.

My hope is that we have enough "role models" on community living
that it's not necessary to have a big start up phase.  Just like
if you grow up in a Quaker household, you have some sense of consensus,
because you are part of a 300+ year tradition.   This would be
a Tipping Point, if you will.

Just like health food is now found in the isles of the big box grocery
stores or we see green consciousness in McDonald's.   Some degree
of being "mainstream".  Is it pure and in the same form as the original
pioneers saw?  No.  Is it an advancement of the goals of those pioneers?
I will say Yes!

Going home last night from "yet another meeting" for Arboretum Cohousing
(which is in active new member recruitment), the discussion moved the
possibility of the mainstream condos taking on features of cohousing. We can see this is in the "common space amenities". If we see "self-management",
then I might even been willing to put it into the same conceptual space
as cohousing.

I also have this goal of getting cohousing into the common vocabulary,
something that you don't have to immediately explain.  Just like "coops"
are in the common vocabulary here in Madison.


Dirk Herr-Hoyman
Member of Arboretum Cohousing
Madison, WI

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