Re: Professional Development vs Self Development
From: Joelyn Malone (
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 21:03:51 -0700 (PDT)
At Monterey Cohousing in Minneapolis, we did the development ourselves because we couldn't find any developers interested. Too big for the little in-fill developers, and too little for anyone else. Also, it was 1992-96, so nobody anywhere in the US had much experience in cohousing development. In retrospect, we all learned a heck of a lot, but the time it took was incredible. I feel like we all put the rest of our lives on "hold" for those 4 years. Many of our group were self-employed or had a lot of flexibility in their work schedules, but we all felt like we were doing nothing but cohousing in our off-work time. (A few stay-at-home moms did an incredible amount of the work.) I'd definitely want to work with a developer if we had it to do over. We were unusual in having lots of people with quite a few of the varied skills needed: 1. Development consultant that started as part of our group. He eventually formed a partnership with a friend to be our general contractor. 2. Two members who had bought and sold real estate, and had been landlords of apartment buildings. 3. One stay-at-home mom who'd learned to be an advocate for her disabled son, and was a master politician-got us through all the city and neighborhood stuff. 4. Several of us who had previous experience in developing and managing budgets, arranging financing, drafting legal documents with lawyers, doing contract management and project management of large projects. 5. All were willing to take financial risks. We had developed lots of trust as a group. Lost $10,000 on our first (failed) venture -- best education we could have gotten for the price. (For the original purchase of the land and the building we did obtain and rehab, each one of us had to personally guarantee that we would bear the entire cost if everybody else backed out and disappeared.) 6. Friendly bankers who knew and liked cooperatives. One member had taken out several business loans with the bank that provided most of the financing. 7. ... and last but not least, several people who were really good at group facilitation and conflict resolution, and knew how to keep the group moving through the process. It also helped that we had an unusual number of "burning souls" - probably half of our 15 households fell into that category.

So, you can do it yourself with that combination of people and skills, plus a lot of luck - but you'll give up 4 or 5 years of having any other kind of life to do it. Get a developer so you can enjoy those years!

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