|Re: Cohousing is based on home ownership||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Craig Ragland (craigraglandgmail.com)|
|Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 11:49:25 -0700 (PDT)|
I'm going to pile-on - unfortunately, I got long-winded again, so few will actually read all this... I've been thinking a LOT about what I'll be sharing in Plenaries at the upcoming conference, so writing this out here serves that need for me as well - I hope this doesn't stimulate problematic energy, as my longer posts sometimes do. I've lived at Songaia since 1992, and have participated in the broad communities movement for several years. In my PERSONAL world view, Cohousing is one form of Intentional Community - and one form of Community. Some cohousers, largely in the past, attempted to distance Cohousing from other forms of Intentional Community. Many people still refer to "Intentional Communities" as being something different, a particular "type" of community, rather than a super-set. For me, Intentional Communites includes ecovillages, income-sharing communes, some cooperatives, including small residential households, large land-sharing groups using various legal forms, some non-residential groups, and yes, cohousing. Some cast Cohousing as being for wealthier folks. While many units in many existing and forming cohousing communities have prices that are relatively high compared to many other forms of Intentional Community, many cohousing groups have often explored ways to keep costs down - both for all members and for a subset of their members. There are definitely many other communities that explicitly focus on low cost lifestyles. This is, generally, not what cohousing communities focus on. It really hard just to create a community of private homes with portions of a common house - all of which meet local codes, can attract bank financing. To do all this for very little money requires some amazing circumstances. I contrast, it is relatively easy to rent a single building and occuply it with private bedrooms and common kitchen/living room/etc. It is also relatively easy to do this for a very low cost. This is a totally valid form of Intentional Community, although it is not cohousing. One thing I heard Katie McCamant comment on was that she was surprised there are not more shared households within cohousing communities. I agree that it would seem a natural - and there are some great examples of this working well in some communities. Some of them consider themselves a community (household) within a broader community (cohousing) that is within a broader community (broader neighborhood/geographic area). After retiring from Microsoft, I first threw my energy beyind NICA, and then re-engaged with FIC. The FIC (Fellowship for Intentional Community) is widely known, NICA (Northwest Intentional Community Association) less so. I knew NICA well, since some of its founders, Fred and Nancy Lanphear - and Tom Barr, live here at Songaia Cohousing - that's also how Rob Sandelin and I have connected over the years. Both NICA and the FIC serve the full range of intentional communities. In the case of the FIC, a number of its leaders have lived in (and still do) income-sharing communities. In the case of NICA, most of its leaders have lived in Cohousing communities. NICA has had a great alignment with the FIC for years. Since I've gotten involved with Coho/US, it has begun finding ways to work with them. After I started volunteer work for NICA and FIC, Raines Cohen invited me to join the Coho/US volunteer board. I continued to support the FIC, with my most impactful role as the conference coordinator for Art of Community NW, a wonderful FIC event in the Fall of 2006 that NICA helped enable by providing major funding. It was sometime after that when I started devoting more of my own personal energy into Coho/US - and less to FIC and NICA. One thing I'm particularly excited about is the collaboration between Coho/US and other Community organizations. While they can be seen to compete for "mindshare" or limited donation pool, I believe that, together, we will continue to grow whole of the Intentional Community pie - allowing each of our wedges to be larger than they currently are. I view this growth as being vital for each of these organizations to have more impact on the movement. An example of this collaboration will, once again, be seen in the upcoming National Cohousing Conference. Coho/US is working with the FIC to include Community Bookshelf - a large bookstore that will offer a huge selection of community-related books and our Auction Fundraiser - proceeds of which will be shared by the organizations. Another example of collaboration, I just got off the phone with Ann Zabaldo, one of the committed volunteer leaders of MAC (Mid-Atlantic Cohousing). We talked about the organizational history of Coho/US and MAC. Our primary motivation is to figure out ways to work together more effectively. One way we're about to do this is also at the conference - Coho/US is proud to support MAC by providing the conference as a platform for them to showcase their recent work. We hope the visibility helps them achieve their goals to increase the number of cohousing developers. A real advantage of collaboration is that each organization can develop its core competencies and, hopefully, find ways to share resources to support each other in those particular arenas. This was a major advance that Microsoft used to grow into the HUGE organization that it is - by focusing on the OS, rather than hardware, they left IBM and Apple in the dust (back in the day). Another, final example - the FIC sells published books online. Years ago, Coho/US did so as well - but no longer does. We also used to send people to Amazon and take an Affiliate Fee for each book sold. At this point, we have no plans to resell books online and are likely to further integrate our "online store" with the FIC, as well as other organizations to help us serve cohousers and folks interested in cohousing. We are leveraging their competencies, rather than creating our own little business units that can struggle to manage inventory, ship product, etc. The FIC is good at finding, buying, describing, selling, and distributing community-related books - including the cohousing titles. By sending traffic their way, we get to "double-dip" and help an aligned organization, as well as help the many thousands of people that visit our website each month to discover depth information about cohousing. This is similar to how Coho/US attempts to serve the grass roots Cohousing Movement. Some services we provide are free and, for some, we ask the beneficiaries to share our costs and help fuel our work. Why? Because our income from tax-deductible donations is insuffient to support the services we want to offer - so we've worked hard to develop fee-for-services. Also, some of the organizations we support as a way to serve our mission are for-profit businesses - and we want to find ways that we can encourage them to both meet their interests - enabling some cohousing groups to actually build - and to serve the movement. Some folks on the Coho-L list have been harshly critical of Coho/US for a variety of reasons. Before assuming the worst of us, I ask you to first breathe and then recall how easy it is to cast anything that seems like an "official organization" as the THEM, rather than being part of US. When you make another the THEM, the OTHER, then what THEY do is easy to interpret as problematic, rather than serving our common interests. Perhaps some of this problematic energy stems from the shift from Coho/US former existenace as a membership organization - which was fueled almost exlusively by grass roots energy. The reason Coho/US dropped that model, according to lore which pre-dated my involvement, is both that we couldn't adequately support "membership benefits," managing subscription renewals, and that there were so few members willing to "sign up." Today, we are still driven by lots of volunteer energy, including the Coho/US Board. Most of the Coho/US board lives in cohousing, some of them are Cohousing Professionals, and some fall into both categories. Our staff is entirely people, like myself, who live in cohousing or are parts of forming groups. A lot of the money that Coho/US pays out, thus, flows right back into various cohousing communities. Will we once again create Coho/US "members" - yes, but of a different sort. In order to access and contribute to a new Members Area on the Cohousing Website, you will need to get a free membership. We are doing this partially to reduce the SPAM postings, which we get in volume, from our anonymous users. This new Members Area will be demonstrated and released at the conference. We hope some of the Coho-L folks enjoy it. Its starting on a small scale - and may stay that way, if it doesn't catch on. If it doesn't, we might kill it off in the future. On the other hand, it may be useful to a lot of folks and grow into something special, something that people have asked for here for a while - and that the Cohousing wiki attempted to address, in part. Well, that's more than enough and I hope those of you that have made it all the way through this essay gained some value... I know that I have (grin). On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 10:16 PM, Raines Cohen <rc3-coho-L [at] raines.com> wrote: > > On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 9:25 AM, Rob Sandelin <floriferous [at] msn.com> > wrote: > > > Cohousing is only one kind of > > community. There are many others, many of which are not based on home > > ownership. Check out FIC.org for info. > Rob, I think you mean http://www.ic.org/ > > And thanks for the perspective... while we are taking a "big tent" view > with > the cohousing movement, and building on our decades of experience of > like-minded groups creating market-rate housing for themselves to integrate > affordability and other forms of diversity, it helps to appreciate that it > is just one segment of the spectrum of community types -- Craig Ragland Coho/US executive director http://www.cohousing.org craig [at] cohousing.org Please try email first, include your phone number (w/time zone) - or give me a call: 425-487-3550 (Pacific)... communicate!
- Zoning and low cost housing, (continued)
- Re: Cohousing is based on home ownership Raines Cohen, May 28 2008
- Re: Cohousing is based on home ownership Craig Ragland, May 29 2008
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