Re: Your best elevator speech of cohousing
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Mon, 4 May 2009 13:33:17 -0700 (PDT)
I've been explaining cohousing at least 5 times a day for the last decade
(it helps to always wear my white-on-green "Ask me about Cohousing" button
from Coho/US), so here's how I characterize it. (I removed the all-caps from
the subject line to make it more readable and less shout-y)

Add one line for every floor of your elevator trip, and follow the interest
of the person you're talking to -- give them room to express what gets them
excited (watch their response), guide them back to your core message, and
build your engagement on the positive reinforcement you get, tailoring your
message selection to their background/interest:

* It's condos with community: about 20 to 30 homes on average, clustered
* We all have our own private homes, with a large shared area -- a common
* We all have our own kitchens, but we do meals together a few times a week
* I know my neighbors, we run the community by consensus
* We're basically recreating an old-fashioned village, overcoming the
isolation of the last half century
* Some are individual homes, some townhouses, some condos [include your own
project design/vision and experience here]. In general we live in smaller
spaces because of our shared space and resources
* It's a national movement, with 116 cohousing neighborhoods established
over the last two decades, with a similar number under development
* We start green and get greener - way more than just the "sticks and
bricks" of green building, studies show: car-sharing, composting, saving
energy way more than the average American
* It's intergenerational and very popular with parents, but we've got a lot
of interest from boomers in senior cohousing, specifically designed to
support the aging process and help them maintain their independence and stay
out of nursing homes
* It's great for activists -- I can host a meeting in the Common House,
without even cleaning house.
* I learn a lot from my neighbors and do things with them
* Legally it's a condominium, so we don't have a guru, we all have our own
incomes, our own mortgages, and there's no wife-swapping (you can apologize
here if they look disappointed)
* We get professional help with decision-making and conflict prevention and
resolution, so we look for mutually optimal solutions.
* It's the fastest-growing sector of the Intentional Communities movement,
because we partner with professional developers and leverage the system, so
the banks will finance it and cities/counties will approve it
* It comes from Denmark, and was brought over to the U.S. by two architects
(at this point if someone's very engaged, I pull out the green-cover book)
* We're having a meeting/orientation/tour/common meal next ___ (or every
___), [hand them your postcard-sized or tri-fold simple flyer] would you
like to come learn more and see it for yourself?

If you'd like more guidance (I have an informal flowchart organizing
extended talking points/common confusions&misconceptions/engagement
opportunities around each of these key points), I'd be happy to provide some
Cohousing Coaching around effectively delivering this message, via
conference call, if your or other cohousers are interested. There also may
be ways to make your website more effective at building awareness and
engagement, helping build the pool of your future neighbors. Let me know!

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach (at Berkeley Cohousing)

Regional Organizer, East Bay Cohousing
Hosting the world premiere of Visions of Utopia (part 2) communities
documentary tomorrow evening in Berkeley, CA

Co-Author, Audacious Aging

On Mon, May 4, 2009 at 8:11 AM, Linda Gluck <treehouse [at]> wrote:

> I need your best responses to "What is Cohousing?" –  your "Elevator
> Speech" on cohousing for developing our public and media presentations.
> Many thanks,
> Linda

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