Getting a new group started (was Affordable Cohousing, Renters vs Owners)
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 08:51:12 -0800 (PST)
Kristen Simmons <simmonskristen [at]>
is the author of the message below.
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
after deleting extra quoted message.
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I've been reading your posts with interest. My group got started about a
year ago, and I been studying and learning about cohousing ever since. There
are so many great resources out there, so I thought I would share with you
what has been really helpful for Stony Brook Cohousing.

1. Chris ScottHanson's book is absolutely wonderful. It's all about
cohousing development, with everything from getting financing and making
things affordable, to the color card system and consensus. Worth its weight
in gold. Chris also does workshops through his firm Cohousing Resources.

2. It was recommended that we create a common vision very early. We took
that advice and hired Laura Fitch of Kraus-Fitch Architects to do a
visioning workshop with our group. We had homework before the workshop, then
we hammered out our common vision. I think that it was one day, but it might
have been two. I think that we got a lot more done with her skilled
facilitation than we could have ever done on our own. It was tempting to try
to save money and do it ourselves, but I bet that every member of our group
is glad that we hired Laura to work with us on that task. We learned more
about each other and felt much more united by defining our common vision.

3. When it was time to do our site planning, we brought Laura back. We had
more homework and a slide show which also served as a marketing opportunity
for us. In the slide show, we saw images of many, many cohousing
communities, which helped us on the following days, because it gave us a
common visual language to use as we discussed what we hoped to achieve.

We talked about units being connected in many different ways, and Laura
could bring us back to reality. For example, if all units are connected,
then each unit might have fewer windows. But maybe that's ok if our group
values a smaller footprint for the whole community, which more sustainable,
more than bright units with lots of windows, which also ranked high in our
preferences. We also talked about how the units would relate to each other
and to the common house. I could go on and on about all the things we
discussed, but the bottom line is that Laura helped us to guide us and kept
us focused. She made of think about things that we would never have thought
of on our own.

4. Visit as many cohousing communities as you can! The elevyn that I have
seen are amazingly different, although the residents of all have been some
of the most interesting people I have ever met! (And also helpful and



Message: 7
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 11:35:44 -0800 (PST)
From: tom shea <sheamuson [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Affordable Cohousing, Renters vs Owners
To: cohousing-l [at]
Message-ID: <585121.64694.qm [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

Hypothetical:    If you were be part of a group of folks interested in
developing a new cohousing community and the group was unsure (no one has a
strong opinion either way) with whether to develop single family or joined
units ( i.e. shared walls and roofs vs stand alone homes) which way would
you want to go?  Why?   Would you design all units or allow individuals to
design build (assuming stand alone homes)?

Tom Shea

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