Re: The Future of Cohousing
From: Naomi Anderegg (
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2011 07:30:58 -0800 (PST)
I think that you're absolutely right about keeping the size of cohousing 
relatively small. (In fact, I read some theory about living in large 
being the root of a lot of our social problems. You can know 100-200 people 
fairly well, and if you're surrounded by 100-200 people who know you and your 
family and loved ones fairly well, then there is heavy pressure to behave, to 
some extent. Everyone would figure out if you were stealing or raping women or 
doing other really bad stuff. And since you care about what they think about 
you--that would be bad. However, when we get into really monstrous community 
sizes, you can go about your business with semi-anonymity, free from societal 
pressures to meet even the most basic standards of behavior. I wish I 
the name of this theory or the article that I read about it! It goes into the 
idea that we probably also evolved as a species in "small" communities, and not 
in mega-communities.) 

The little private school I send my daughter to functions under a similar 
premise that "small is good". Right now, I think they have about 40 students. 
But, when we applied, they pretty much said that if they ever got over 120 or 
so, then they'd split into two schools. (Compare this to schools with literally 
thousands of children--how does anyone get to know anyone?) Actually these very 
large schools will often break kids up into "pods" or "teams" or something like 
that. All the 100 or so kids in team 1 have the same science teacher, math 
teacher, etc, and pretty much only take classes with other kids in team 1. 
Cohousing can be thought of as the team strategy applied to communities, I 
suppose. You could have 1 cohousing community in a larger community, or 2, or 
20, but they need to stay small enough that the sense of community ability to 
know everyone (at least by name) isn't lost. 


From: R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]>
To: CoHoL <Cohousing-L [at]>
Sent: Sun, February 6, 2011 4:58:59 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 Œ60¹s, 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 Œ30¹s 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.

Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.