Re: Cohousing vs. communal
From: Kristen Simmons (
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2010 06:29:13 -0800 (PST)
You might want to check out the website. There are communities
doing what you describe. I know of at least two in the Boston area,
which have at an association the the Quakers. A friend lives in one;
I can provide contact information if you like off line.

I do think that cohousing is very different, usually. Most cohousers
really do want their own independent home. Although at Cobb Hill
Cohousing in Vermont, there are several studios in the common house
that share communal bathrooms and use the community kitchen. So
really, anything goes. :-)

There's also a new intentional community forming my neighborhood as a
non-profit. Here's a link:

Good luck!

On twitter at cohousingboston

On Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM, Alex Kent <alex.m.kent [at]> wrote:
> Hello Brian,
> Many thanks for your thoughtful reflections on communal living.  A few
> thoughts in return:
> I'm sure you're right: It can't be easy to live in a commune.  My partner
> and I already share our home with housemate renters, students at
> UMass/Amherst, for the most part.  Felicia went to a kind of boarding school
> in Vermont as a child, living under the direction of house parents (clear
> authority figures), and I lived in college dormitories many years ago
> (authority figure less clear, but not a whole lot more maturity than
> children).  Neither of us has lived in a commune, and certainly never in a
> place with 65 other people (other than a hotel).
> We have no desire to create a large commune.  We're looking for a living
> arrangement in which we can maintain a large measure of autonomy while
> sharing the joys and costs of living with other people.  Many would argue --
> persuasively -- that cohousing offers the best solution.
> No doubt the social dynamic would be completely different from what we have
> now if we were to share a home with coequals, co-owners who are not just
> housemates.  The "vision" (as opposed to whatever the reality might turn out
> to be), of sharing our living spaces with other people is, in fact,
> appealing, but only with the right people.  The sticking point, of course,
> is that proviso, "the right people."  Frankly, I don't know how to find
> those people.  Rob Sandelin of Snohomish Cohousing wrote to warn that,
> having assembled a small group of communards we should rent any real estate
> before considering a joint purchase.  That makes sense.  It would not be
> wise to sign a contract on something as durable as real estate before
> finding out if we can all live together.
> Truth to tell, we run hot and cold on this issue: Autonomy vs. community.
> Cohousing vs. communal home.
> We'd like to read any further thoughts you have on these questions.
> Thanks,
> Alex Kent
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Brian Tremback [mailto:brian.tremback [at]]
> Sent: Sunday, February 14, 2010 10:13 PM
> To: cohousing-l [at]
> Subject: [C-L]_ Cohousing vs. communal
> "We would like to have more direct engagement with the people we live with.
>  We would like to live in a more communal arrangement than most cohousing
> communities seem to afford.
> "We're looking to create a larger extended family.
> "Our vision involves the joint purchase of a larger house in our area,
> possibly a farm or existing multifamily house. Common kitchen/dining, common
> living room, a general opening up of the house, while preserving private
> bedrooms and other personal spaces."
> Alex,
> I'm sure you know that during the 70's such experiments in intentional
> communities were fairly common. If you haven't already, you might want to
> read some books about those days, like Kat Kinkade's "A Walden Two
> Experiment" or "Is It Utopia Yet?" about her experiences at Twin Oaks, an
> egalitarian community she helped found in 1967, and still exists.
> As someone who currently lives in cohousing, and in the late 70's in a
> different sort of intentional community (one of the Federation of
> Egalitarian Communities), I will admit that, for me, cohousing offers a much
> better mix between sociality and autonomy. At the intentional community
> where I lived, each member only had a small private bedroom in a dormitory
> style building. Every other space was shared with the other 65 members of
> the community. So this was not too dissimilar from the communal arrangement
> you're describing, but on a larger scale.
> I don't know if you've had experience in this sort of living arrangement. If
> not, you should be prepared for a completely different social dynamic from
> what you're used to. To expect a communal house to function as an extended
> family is overlooking the roles played by family members - specifically
> authority figures who provide for their dependents - and the biological and
> cultural adaptations to those roles. Those roles aren't relevant for a group
> of unrelated adults. A communal living arrangement will probably affect many
> aspects of your social life - your relationship with your partner, your
> children, your friends outside your household. If you can imagine sharing
> most of your living space with other people outside your own family, and
> that vision is appealing, then you might be all set. The bottom line is
> that, to have a sustainable living situation, it will have to be more
> rewarding than it is taxing.
> Brian Tremback
> Burlington Cohousing
> Burlington, VT
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