Community Basics Re: The Future of Cohousing
From: Wayne Tyson (
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2011 16:05:16 -0800 (PST)
RD and CoHo:

Yes, but . . .

If Dunbar's 150 Rule rules, somewhere around 20 to 40 (maybe as many as 60--at a family size of 2.5--households) is probably about right, so your point is not only well-taken, it just might be a crucial (tipping?) point in more ways than one. While I'm a big fan of shots from the hip, WAG's, SWAG's, and intuition, I don't exactly throw out the intellectual baby with the bathwater either. The principle, however, is sound: "You can't recognize, know and care about all your neighbors if you live in a 600-unit complex.

With respect to hierarchy and centralized institutional authority, however, it is not mere suspicion, but a reaction to clear evidence, that correctly brands such concepts to the history of culture, as I am examining in an essay I'm working on entitled "Culture Against Society." Co-housing is an objective component of an intuitive reaction to the enslavement of social impulses by cultural frameworks.

But co-housing in its most refined form could go far beyond mere condos for "hippies," and actually question invasive bullies at any level, isolating them, for example, as in more basic, not-so-primitive-after-all, truly social groups where leadership is shifting and consultative and based upon ability and consent rather than linear election politics for arbitrary terms of "office."

But then expediency and sustainability have never mixed very well/not at all.


----- Original Message ----- From: "R Philip Dowds" <rpdowds [at]>
To: "CoHoL" <Cohousing-L [at]>
Sent: Sunday, February 06, 2011 2:58 AM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ The Future of Cohousing

A deep suspicion of hierarchy, of centralized institutional authority, has
been a strong theme in American culture, all the way from the
Democratic-Republican Party of Jefferson (this, in a context where political
parties themselves were seen as the embodiment of dangerous ³factionalism²),
right through the counter-cultural and protest movements of the O60¹s, and
to the Tea Party of today.  So if you are worried about concentrations of
power, you are a member of a very large and honorable club.  But keep in
mind that the ³welfare state² of the O30¹s and the invasion of Iraq were
both promoted, not by popular grass roots initiative, but by a strong
federal government having a vision of what needed to be done.  Our federal
government can help people, or it can murder them.  It¹s up to us, the

How this ties to cohousing is interesting.  ³Big² does not work for the
cohousing model.  You can¹t recognize, know and care about all your
neighbors if you live in a 600-unit complex.  So we all share, more or less,
an agreement that cohousing communities of 20 to 40 households are in the
range of right-sized < especially for consensus-based participatory
democracy.  Yes?

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On 2/6/11 12:34 AM, "Wayne Tyson" <landrest [at]> wrote:

The very labels "Executive Director" and "CEO" scare the hell out of me.
That's because of past experiences with the concentration of power that I
believe is fundamentally corrosive of social transformation.

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