Re: Sorry if you were offended, here is the point reworded
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2010 16:57:09 -0800 (PST)
Thanks, Rob - I hope that will help clear the air.

I got it about your original intent, but as I've learned in the past
decade of community living, it is a natural human tendency to read
something written neutrally or tangentially as a personal attack on
yourself, your group, or your cause, and respond accordingly -- heck,
I've done it myself.

I hope we can all use this as a reminder to both:

(a) watch our language, re-reading our messages from the point of view
of people in different circumstances


(b) don't get too hung up on other people's language, and remember
that we're using a communications medium that amplifies differences
and filters out nuance and promotes reactivity.

As to the underlying issue, in the several conversation threads that
have forked off (making it hard to follow the overall conversation
when people change subject lines when replying) I see a lot of
repetitions of stereotypes - about both cohousers and cohousing

Sure, there are patterns which can be quantified, observed, and
abstracted of either group - in terms of income, race, credit ratings,
or whatever arbitrary measure you (or society) deems important.

But I categorically reject the labels that arise from using these
conventional frames, because:

(a) they divide us, when we have so much in common in our goals,
culture, methods, and process


(b) they ignore a key aspect of what I believe is a critical factor in
the success of cohousing to date: our incredible uniqueness - ordinary
people with diverse experience and incredible lives, coming together
in a system that lets us tap all that collective wisdom and energy and
connections and use it together.

When I look back at the first two decades of cohousing in the U.S.
(you could call it the "pioneers" or "early adopters"), I see that
successful cohousing neighborhoods got established and are thriving
because they had the leadership of key individuals, burning souls able
to carry the vision and inspire others.

If we want to continue to build and grow the movement over the next
two decades and beyond, we will have to celebrate, honor, and build on
that success -- and move beyond it. We will need to share our
successes and methods and partner with other groups and professionals
that bring capacities that we need to add more choices.

Rather than spend our time and energy assuming the worst of each other
and prying open any gaps we find in each others' communication, if we
start by assuming the best and are secure that, once we allow for the
filtering effect of this communications medium/channel, we gain more
by beginning from a foundation of cooperation and support, we can
pursue those means to accomplish our goals.

In my experience, if you want to find a community that meets your
needs, invest in developing it. Your leadership will be recognized and
what you learn along the way may turn out to be precisely what you
need to make it happen. Don't assume that anyone else will do it for

Let's work together, on this list, on the website, and
in our regions, on building our collective abilities and capacities
for leadership and communication -- this is precisely what the
national cohousing conference's workshops and networking, as well as
regional gatherings like the DC-area one Mid-Atlantic Cohousing is
putting together in March, are most powerful at accomplishing.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
Planning for Sustainable Communities
 noting a recent pattern of several DC-area cohousers/cohousing
seekers migrating to the Bay Area and seeking community here - is this
a new trend?

Community Organizer, East Bay Cohousing
  organizing a talk about community living options in downtown
Berkeley on Feb. 2

Aging-In-Community Author, Audacious Aging
  at a Gray Panthers' meeting today, one longtime protester observed:
"The nice thing about being arrested at a 'die-in' is that some nice
young men will help you up... it's hard to get up otherwise." Tomorrow
afternoon: Elders' Guild at North Berkeley Senior Center

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