Re: Cohousing Communities after move-in: A "honeymoon" phase?
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2008 07:38:21 -0700 (PDT)
A few thoughts on this:

1- To me it seems that after move in there is often an exhaustion phase, especially if it's a community that worked long and hard to get itself built. It's also the time that people try to figure out how to make their houses the way they want them; work on establishing their back yards, perhaps,
and so on.

2- After move in, there is quite a long period of (community members) adjusting to being each other's neighbors. I remember this as being a really tough time. I think people bring their own expectations, and then reality sets in - which is invariably different, and requires that people figure out how to get it to work for them. In some cases they figure out that it doesn't and they leave - but this usually takes time. So, a lot of energy is being spent on learning and adjusting in regards to other community members, and the community as a whole. This doesn't necessarily leave time and energy to do all the connecting to the larger community that some might have
envisioned ahead of time.
This doesn't mean that there are no cases where these connections occur - I'd assume that if there is (at least) one community member who is really passionate about it, and leads the way, this might still happen. That's true, though, regarding all coho projects - there are millions of good ideas that stay in the realm of ideas. For anything to materialize it takes someone who is ready to lead (teach, encourage, inspire, etc.) - and of course it needs to be an idea that resonates with a number of others...

3- Should we judge established communities by their websites? - Not all communities have someone who is interested in this, and a great website isn't a basic requirement for a good community/meaningful
community life.
(This is different from communities in the making, where one would think a decent website would be
such an important tool for reaching new people/potential new members).

Racheli, Sonora Cohousing, Tucson.

On Aug 16, 2008, at 7:20 AM, Sharon Villines wrote:

On Aug 15, 2008, at 10:45 PM, balaji [at] wrote:

The first obvious symptom is a deteriorating website that is
infrequently updated or poorly designed.

But as has been often noted on this list, new websites and posts from
forming groups routinely forget to mention what state they are in. If
people who are seeking new members so they can even get built have no
more awareness of the larger world than understanding that there is
more than one Mayberry out there, why would they have any more
interest once they are built?

I've seen websites that give street addresses and directions but NO
CITY. That isn't even enough information for MapQuest to find  them.
For example, "Go north on Route 1, turn left at Main Street and go 3
miles past Fisherman's Pond. We are the second white house after the
stop sign."

Right. Is that Australia?  Mississippi? New Brunswick? Fisherman's
Pond returns 421,000 addresses on Google. (A fictional example because
I can't think of a real one and wouldn't want to embarrass anyone
anyway, but I have gnashed my teeth many times over this.)

I once tried to drive to a community and after 3 attempts to follow
their directions had to stop and call because they said to turn right
on a road that had no street sign. When I remarked on this, they said,
"Oh, that sign has been missing for years." No one who lives further
perhaps than maybe 30 miles away would know which road that was. After
more than two years in development, they hadn't fixed their directions.

How can we accurately measure whether this perceived inwardness is an
effect of cohousing or a preexisting condition?

We would have to examine this in the context of life before and after,
rather than comparing it with our own ideal of wanting cohousing to be
a force for social change. Is social change beyond creating a better
neighborhood a reasonable measure of a good cohousing community?

It may be that people who want to turn inward are the people who are
attracted to cohousing. They just want that inwardness be richer and
to be shared with 50-100 other people. Short of cultishness, that
something to worry about?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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