Re: hostile comments on cohousing
From: Hans Tilstra (
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 19:50:48 -0800 (PST)
What to do with argumentative comments on cohousing? I'd name it for what it is 
- moody stereotyping.

Both McCamant and Durrett's work and Chris ScottHanson's writing on cohousing 
identify quite clearly the risk and protective factors which need to be 
considered to optimise the balance between privacy and community. Children 
generally love cohousing, and the predominance of evidence points to positive 
outcomes for adolescents and young adults, compared to the default 

"Ideological isolation" also needs a bit of unpacking. Whilst there may be 
evidence that intentional communities based on a religious theme, or 
eco-villages may come across as imposing, the blueprint for cohousing remains a 
practical one. I have not come across examples where cohousing get a say on 
what goes inside someone's house.

I live in a Owners' Corporation where I check up on the older neighbours, 
befriend my neighbours, have a defacto neighbourhood watch and have a 
once-a-year barbeque. We have times of differentiation on issues of smoking, 
parking, fencing or noise. We have a typical diversity in ideologies which 
fosters superficiality, not ' wonderful tight-knit community'. As an Australian 
sociologist once observed when he explored why cohousing took off to a greater 
extent in the USA, we have live in the context of the 'smallness of the 
Australian dream', in which we just want our own quarter acre, our autonomy, 
and not too much of that American bravery or dreaming. 


The reader, jlbraun1, wrote:
Just where I want to live! A super-HOA where "the community" gets a say on what 
goes on inside your house too! I have an interest in this topic but I have read 
many many many (many!) reports of co-housing developments disbanding because of 
petty infighting and feuding over things like "who left the lawnmower out" or 
"you broke the communal stove, you should pay for it!" or "your kid stole my 
tools!" Classic tragedy of the commons problem.

And that's not even getting into the ideological isolation that comes with 
choosing to live and more-or-less exclusively associate with people that agree 
with you on whatever issues you deem important - whether that's "Christian 
values" or "living in harmony with Mother Earth". Get to be friends with your 
neighbors. Check up on the old people. Assemble a list of all the phone numbers 
on your street. Start a neighborhood watch. Hold a block party. You can create 
a wonderful tight-knit community much more easily than this article describes.

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