Re: Cohousing Communities after move-in: A "honeymoon" phase?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2008 15:14:28 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 15, 2008, at 4:54 PM, Craig Ragland wrote:

Maybe this idea is just something that a few vocal people have passionately shared, but I've heard it too many times in too many settings to challenge the idea as folk-knowledge.

I think what is missing from your revised questions is a graded list of definitions of "turning inward" or "being uninvolved in the wider community."

There were several people in our community, for example, who moved in expecting the community to become a unified advocate for change in the world. They complained bitterly that we were insular.

But they expected the community to support all the same causes they supported -- pro-Israel, Palestinian freedom,, particular parenting theories and practices, folk music, etc. They believed that that was what cohousing was all about. When this didn't happen, they were very frustrated. In time this has relaxed, I think. At least the rhetoric and deluge of press releases for peach marches, classes, demonstrations, etc. is down to a comparative trickle.

Some wanted a ledge in the CH to put out brochures on all causes. With 43 units, each with their own causes, the ledge would have taken up a small room. Others didn't like seeing the brochures -- too commercial, too messy. We also have too many views on the various issues. Is MoveOn a good organization or biased? Where should the Israeli / Palestinian boundaries be? The CH could quickly go nuclear.

If you want any diversity, the political in your face style is hard to live with on a daily basis.

Other people felt that since we were living in cohousing, and cohousing is there to save the world, that we should be actively promoting cohousing as part of our community work. Even to the extent of not having a private email list -- keep our public list for all business as well as social communication so others could learn from us. Other members said they wanted privacy. They didn't want to live in a fish bowl. Others had security issues -- particularly in respect to children and children's activities.

We have developed the practice of not making any statements as a community -- not endorsing candidates, not making contributions from the general funds, etc. All this is done individually. People sign support letters individually -- I think in all instances not even identifying themselves as residents of Takoma Village. This stems from (1) the time it would take to reach consensus on a public statement and (2) respect for the fears of neighbors that we would dominate the community discourse with our numbers if we acted as a unified force.

We also have many people who do political and social change work all day long, or policy work, so doing more of it at home that is generated by a neighbor is not particularly welcome.

As you can see characterizing "inwardness" or "outwardness" is complex. Personally, I suspect that in all communities, people are just as involved or not involved as they would be if they didn't live in cohousing.

If you are interested in your Built Community hosting a presentation/ conversation entiteld, Our Cohousing Movement, over the next year, please Reply Off-line -

I assume Ann has done this. If not let me know.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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