Sustainable Life Style and Tough Conversations
From: Lavinia Weissman (
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 10:28:02 -0700 (PDT)

I really value what you stated here re: dealing with difficult people.

After a lengthy phone conversation with Raines Cohen the other night, I
realized that cohousing communities are facing more and more the difficult
conversations that will continue to emerge as the US comes to grip with
its 100M chronically ill citizens.  This can include mental illness,
physical illness or just adjustments to challenges in life transitions,
which I think Byron hinted at.

While I am a big fan of 55plus communities and Eldershire communities for
example, I am very upset with the attitude of some who think anyone over
50 is on their way to this kind of community and does not understand aging
in place or should be considered disabled when they may not be disabled
and exercise precaution for a challenging health status.

On the other side of the coin, what do you do when a young family has
children and one of the kids is born with a biochemical imbalance or
severe special needs.  My daughters 6 year old nephew passed away a year
ago of ALD and while he did not live in a cohousing community, he lived in
North Conway and some people would have reacted to him in a fear based way
that would have pushed him out of school too soon and more.  Instead the
community rose to the occasion and so much so that when he died at Duke U.
Hospital after an experimental health treatment, the community gave its
funds to the fire dept. to send a community escort to return Bailey to
rest in No. Conway form Duke U. that blew me away. This grew out of a lot
of education, care, connection and willingness for young families with
kids and others to embrace the difficult parts of life and not protect
their kids from challenges families or individuals can face.

It was because the community chose to stick by a difficulty that was born
in their community.

I understand from Raines he has been learning more about these difficult
conversations and what they take to navigate. When I lived in Marin, I did
this in the school system briefly.

I have noticed recently that the conversations about sale price of houses,
taxes, difficult people are things that are going to require a new
definition of process and education in many cohousing communities as we
get constructive and decide if a community wants to be sustainable.

Dave Wann's new book (next winter) will help with some of that I think
since he worked hard in the book to redefine what we value and what he
learned out of living in cohousing.

In the meantime, through a link at,
founded by Donella Meadows, I found this link to Cobb Hill Cohousing,

It was interesting to find a community that documented their philosophy
around how to charge and value their homes (below market place value) and
included in the design apartments for single living people who want to be
part of a community that share the common house kitchen.

This model I had not seen anywhere and it should be real interesting
reading for many people who visit here.

Lavinia Weissman
Lavinia Weissman
Managing Director

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On Tue, May 15, 2007 6:30 am, byron patterson wrote:
> On 5/15/07, Byron Patterson<byronpatterson [at]>: wrote:
> Hi, Bob
> Rejection is hard for most individuals, when trying to find placement
> in society. I mean finding a home and an occupation to support a decent
> standard of living. Cohousing groups need to better define their
> community's
> mission. This will better inform potential cohousing residents of their
> choice
> in selecting a particular cohousing community. If the community mission or
> vision statement is not presented and practiced in the community. It would
> be very hard for an individual or family to understand, why a
> select community
> may not be the best option. There are also housing laws that are suppose
> to
> protect families and individuals from housing discrimination. Most
> cohousing
> groups are aware of these laws and try to keep in compliance. I hope the
> decision your cohousing group made is in compliance with your state
> legislature.
> On 5/12/07, Robert Finn <finn [at]> wrote:
>> We ran into a very similar situation during the forming stages of
>> Pleasant
>> Hill Cohousing. After much discussion and debate we decided to reject
>> someone who we believed was behaving inappropriately.
>> As I recall (this was about 7 years ago) we delegated a couple of
>> members
>> to explain our reasons to him privately. He made very similar threats
>> (lawsuits, etc.), and we were worried for a time, but we never heard
>> from
>> him again.
>> Bob Finn
>> _________________________________________________________________
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