Re: Balance Between Economic Viability and Vital community
From: Bob Morrison (
Date: Mon, 31 May 2010 06:58:03 -0700 (PDT)
  Lamaia Hoffmann lamaiahoffmann [at] wrote:

  We are currently considering 37 condo style units with 2 probable adjunct
houses that would be on lots we'd sell off, but whose residents could well
want to participate in the community to some level (current members have
shown interest in the lots).  According to the textbook definitions I've
read, 37 + potentially 2 more is too big.  I've looked through the archives
and gleaned what I could, but most of the intense discussions seem to have
been around 2000/2001 and there is a lot of cohousing experience in the US
since then.  I am interested in people's experience with how larger sizes
has effected their community for better or worse.  Also, if we need to have
a fairly high number of units, what can we do to help ameliorate the
detrimental effects of a larger community?

  I've read that splitting it into 2 smaller communities could be better,
but any ideas on how to pay for the entire land and other prep work up
front?  It seems very difficult. [end quote]


  I live in Sawyer Hill EcoVillage ( in Berlin,
MA. We faced a similar dilemma on a larger scale, that is, we had a site on
which we could build 68 units, which was far too large for one cohousing, so
we put two adjoining cohos (Mosaic Commons and Camelot, 34 units each) on
the site. 

  Our history is different because these were two cohousing groups that
joined forces for this. The Sawyer Hill EcoVillage org manages the site
itself, water and septic systems, and a few other things that are common to
both cohos. Other than this, it's two free-standing cohos. This model has
worked well so far, and might be a good model for you to use. 

  I think 37 units is on the borderline of being too large to work well
socially as a coho. If you break up into two cohos, an issue is to make sure
most of the movers and shakers don't all go to one of them, because that
might leave the other one without enough movers and shakers to be viable. 


Bob Morrison




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