Re: Are We Done with the Rental Issue?
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 20:31:12 -0800 (PST)
Who is this "we" ? The 2000+ subscribers to this listserv?

My experience is that putting out messages and requests to Coho-L rarely
results in action or clear deliverables - our discussions tend to wander
and while "talking" is interesting to many, very few are prepared to move
beyond the talk. This is quite reasonable as those of us on the list tend to
be very busy people - many of us have full-time jobs and a good number of us
also have rich community lives and/or major projects.

 Coho/US is a "we" that is made up of 9 board members, 8 part-time paid
contractors lead by one salaried Exec Director, and several key volunteers
who are working on our Affordable Task Force advocacy team, Research Team,
2011 Conference team, 2012 Conference team, Professional Advisory team, and
others who volunteer in various individual capacities, such as Raines Cohen
and Joani Blank who tirelessly triage and help address our email and
telephone inquiries. This is probably about 50 people and many have
connected with us through Coho-L (partially thanks to Melanie Mindvin, our
paid volunteer coordinator). On a resource level, we've gradually built our
budget to around 200K and are becoming increasingly effective at using the
power of money to help focus our attention on what the board deems to be of
strategic importance. Its exciting to see many of these people take concrete
actions every week, some with direct financial support and all with efforts
to coordinate their work. While it is always unclear whether any specific
short-term action will drive the positive change that so many of us yearn
for, I am clear that many of us are doing the best we can given our many

As for driving action, my view is that Coho-L can be very effective at
drawing individuals to:
- volunteer for specific, well-defined tasks
- apply for paid positions
- consider specific offers made by forming groups, communities and
- learn about specific resources offered by many, including Coho/US, MAC,
and the numerous communities who freely offer their support in many ways

Of course, there are many less visible actions, like the hundreds of people
who have gleaned wisdom from the many interesting and useful posts, then
applied it to their own or their group's efforts

To specificly address your question, I do not see it as feasible for

"all of us who are interested in Rental Cohousing (to) join their committee"

and I doubt that Grace intended to make such a broad invitation - she's too
smart to grow a committee willy nilly with the quite large number of people
who are interested in talking about it - the Affordable Cohousing Team (not
a committee) is focused on action, not talk. It needs to remain small enough
to make decisions about the next steps.

I am somewhat aware of future actions which will encourage larger numbers to
take positive action to help advance this specific cause. The team will help
coordinate such work by making specific appeals, some of which have already
been done on Coho-L.

Of course, all are invited to join us at the 2011 Conference, where the
Affordable Cohousing Team will kick off this broader, more public efforts -
I understand that the team hopes to harness some of the coho-people power we
will help concentrate in Washington, DC - where so much of policy is defined
and where most of our best prospective organizational allies are based.
Another function of the conference is to invite new people into Coho/US
leadership roles. At the 2010 Conference, we recruited 3 new board members,
Pam Gilchrist from ElderGrace Cohousing (Santa Fe, NM), Dick Kohlhaas from
Casa Verde Commons (Colorado Springs, CO), and Laura Fitch, from Pioneer
Village (Amherst, MA).

While invitations to participate in our growing efforts by attending the
conference is hardly satisfying to some, proximity matters - a lot. The
board's recent experience meeting with 19 different housing organizations in
DC did strengthen our resolve that face-to-face contact is critical to
complement our long-distance work. I hope to see many joining us in our
expanding work - it is a real goodness. Unlike Zev, I'm not particularly
pessimistic about the future, but this is probably because of my up-close
view of so much great work.

We are in dark times and they loom ahead, but my view is that cohousing has
a very robust future indeed and that our dark times will serve to
dramatically expand our movement. As Zev and others have suggested,
cohousing's future may well not primarily be about new-built construction
using current standard practices. I strongly believe in retro-fit
cohousing. I'm modeling this right now as I write this email from my shared
household. Members of my community, Songaia Cohousing (near Seattle) plan
to retrofit this building to better serve the needs of our elders. It will
be community housing that's integrated into a thriving cohousing community.
Cohousing's future is about this type of innovation. We need new ways of
seeing housing solutions as we face the daunting challenges of climate
change, inequalities, etc. Its a good thing that this can be so much fun,
because it is also very hard work.

Thanks for listening!

Craig Ragland
Coho/US Executive Director (2008-2011)

P.S. Want to assume my position in July? The pay is $35-40K for a half time
role - while this may not be much for the professional we hope to recruit,
it IS almost certainly the best paying Cohousing Movement leadership
position available in the world. Check out this Classified Ad for more

On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 8:03 AM, Zev Paiss <zpaiss [at]> wrote:

> Friends,
> Just curious to know if Grace's suggestion that all of us who are
> interested in Rental Cohousing join their committee has finished this
> discussion? What we need is strong leadership to help adapt the
> American cohousing model to address this pressing issue.  I am
> concerned that with the constraints on home construction and purchase
> for most people, cohousing will not have a very robust future.
> Zev
> _________________________________________________________________
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