Re: Elevators and exclusions
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 9 May 2008 11:32:50 -0700 (PDT)
There are many ways to work with the needs of mobility impaired without
having to create a huge expense, and by all accounts elevators are a huge
expense. A classic community one would be service. Our founder was in a
scooter and wheelchair for years and as a community we did things for her
she could not do, such as laundry, shopping, library trips, etc. When I was
sick with cancer I could not get out much, my neighbors took care of many
things for me.  My point is, if the box does not fit, look outside the box,
there are many solutions other than elevators, the easiest is simply to
accommodate primary needs in the commonhouse which are meetings and eatins,
on the accessible floor.  While I have no direct data on the costs of
elevators I have heard from others that it was a real cost problem, adding
almost 20% to the cost of the commonhouse, a cost that might really not be
needed.  And personal economics is probably the number 1 most common
excluder from people living in cohousing. As the cost goes up, those on the
bubble are out. 

In many cohousing commonhouses the upper floors are not crucial and could be
easily eliminated altogether.  The primary hours of use in commonhouses are
typically meals and meetings. Everything else, is just a luxury.  Do you
really need to spend an extra 20% to have access to an office, or small
meeting rooms, or other auxillary spaces?  Could a ground redesign solve the
need instead of a elevator.  Lots of ways to solve this.  


-----Original Message-----
From: Ann Zabaldo [mailto:ann.zabaldo [at]] 
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 6:55 AM
To: Cohousing-L
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Elevators and exclusions

Wow. (Scratching head ...)

Rob.  (More scratching head ...)

You are one of the people on this list I count as a considered thinker about
cohousing.  Your posts to the list are modicums of level headed and serious
insight.  (Scratch, scratch...)

But on this one ... Rob, seriously ... you must have had to jump through
some major hoops to equate exclusion of 99.9999% of the people who don't
live in cohousing to the exclusion of people w/
disabilities.   (Full head two-handed scratch!)

There is no comparison.  Give this one up, ok?  This line of thought will
not promote the debate that's needed here.

I give a lot of leeway to folks struggling to make cohousing happen and who
are trying to make a budget work and who are overloaded w/ a zillion tasks
needed to not only build bricks n' mortar buildings but built a community as

This is tough work.

It's very difficult sometimes to see the value in providing a resource for
what seems like a very small percentage of your community if any percentage
at all at the moment.

The value is in what this debate says about the weaving of the social fabric
of your community.  The weft and the weave you lay down in the beginning of
your work together are the ones that will follow you forever and ever.  It's
very difficult to unweave the colors in the rainbow once they are set.  So
if you have all pinks n' blues in your rainbow you're going to live w/ that
a long, long time.

This debate is about money and values.

Let's just be straight about it.  Don't piss n' moan that of COURSE you
value X.  If you value something you act on it.  If  you don't provide for
it you don't value it.  (O!  THIS going to set off a storm!!  Sadly it will
be Monday before I see all the push back on this as I'm going out of town!)

For me, I get it how hard it is to assign dollars to something that
seems like a limited use.   I understand that this isn't high on some
people's priority list or it's not what they value right now because they
have no real experience w/ it.

But, don't ask me to help you circumvent the law AND make you feel nice-nice
about it.


I'm going to challenge you to look beyond what's possible to what is

Yup.  It's hard.

Yup.  It's dollars.

And yup ... there something at stake here that's more important than either
how tough it is or the dollars involved, or who is going to use
the elevator or how much it will be used, etc. etc.   It's how the
individual and the group are thinking about it that's the real kicker here.

I'm sure there will be blizzard of responses.  And I will have to wait until
Monday!  This is going to be great fun!  A debate long overdue ...

Best to you all!


PS while I'm gone why not try using a wheelchair this weekend?  For
everything ... using a public bathroom, riding mass transit, getting in and
out of a car, going shopping ...  just for fun ... try it.
You'll be surprised.  I promise!

Ann Zabaldo
Voice 202-291-7892
Fax 202-291-8594
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
McLean, VA

On Thu, May 8, 2008 at 12:00 PM, Rob Sandelin <floriferous [at]> wrote:
>  By building a cohousing community you are excluding most people right
>  the start who would never choose to live in such close association with
>  their neighbors. You are excluding those who do not like meetings, you
>  excluding those who want privacy. The list of exclusions involved in
>  creating a community from scratch is huge and probably the biggest in
>  cohousing endeavors is economic.
Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.