Re: The Red Mercedes [was Consensus, Majority Vote, "Blocks"]
From: Dane Laverty (
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 22:36:40 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon, I love your story of the red Mercedes. It's been on my mind for the
past couple days. (I'm going to wax reflective, so I hope you'll indulge

Cohousing is my red Mercedes. Since I discovered cohousing a few years ago
and I read Chris Hanson's *The Cohousing Handbook*, it's become a sort of
imaginary panacea for me. Here's how cohousing works in my mind:

   - I wake up just before the sunrise and step outside into the brisk
   morning. My best friend Jeremy, who lives next door, is out waiting for me.
   We walk quietly through the dew-covered grass of the commons area and past
   the garden, and take the walking trail up to the top of the hill near our
   community. We talk about life, families, and plans, and enjoy watching the
   sunrise together.
   - I wake up just before the sunrise and step outside into the brisk
   morning. I sit down with my hot chocolate on a patio chair. I spend the time
   alone in the quiet stillness of the morning.
   - I wake up just before the sunrise and step outside to meet the morning
   dance group. We breathe, move, and run through choreography in the lawn


   - I spend my days in artistic and creative pursuits: writing, game
   design, philosophy, choreography, teaching, and reading.
   - I spend my days outside with the kids. They play and I keep an eye on
   them, chatting with the other parents.
   - I spend my days under trees, by riversides, over grass, and across
   landscapes. I enjoy the sun, the shade, the wind, and the earth.


   - When I come home in the evening, it's my night to cook. I make dozens
   of burritos and we gather out to share dinner together while our kids
   provide the chaotic entertainment of being kids.
   - When I come home in the evening, I get my djembe and join in improvised
   song and music with my neighbors.
   - When I come home in the evening, after dinner I play Settlers of Catan
   in the CH with my friends, enjoying the magical peace of the night.
   - When I come home in the evening, I lay down on the grass and watch the


But that's not how cohousing works. In reality, I don't imagine that living
in cohousing would contribute to almost any of the items on my list. What is
currently preventing me from enjoying my sunrises, my shade dappled forests,
and my quiet evenings of solemn peacefulness? It's the fact that I've got a
job and a mortgage, that I have family responsibilities and children to
raise. It's the fact that my email is more tempting than my front yard. It's
the fact that it's easy to imagine doing things spontaneously with friends,
but in real life those kinds of activities take planning and leadership and
energy. I've got meals to prepare, a house to clean, a wife to love, and a
career to attend to. Cohousing doesn't make any of those things go away.

All that said, I'd still jump at the chance to live in a cohousing
community. Even if it's not everything, it can be something, and it sounds
like something wonderful.


On Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM, Sharon Villines
<sharon [at]>wrote:

> What about problem solving?
> Compromise suggests already determined solutions/demands/proposals and each
> side has to give up something. From "a settlement of
> differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of
> conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification
> of demands."
> If the objective is to find the best solution possible to address
> everyone's needs, then commitment to creative problem-solving would be
> needed. The solution doesn't yet exist.
> I used to do an exercise in a career planning workshop in which people
> stated a desire to have or to avoid something and then the group analyzed it
> to determine exactly what practical solution would address it. The lesson
> was that we are often perfectly happy with a small change when we are
> obsessing about a huge change. Most of us don't even like huge changes.
> One person wanted a red Mercedes. Totally out of the question but a daily
> disappointment, and on weekends led to depression. After many layers of
> questioning about what was really important, it was to have a long drive in
> the country on weekends in a nice shiny new car. Solution: Rent a car once
> or twice a month. Not only possible, but more enjoyable than having
> responsibility for a high-crime-target Mercedes.
> Another wanted to live close to work and had spent years looking for a
> place she could afford. Never going to happen. Ultimately what she really
> wanted was to avoid packed-like-sardine-cans subway trains every morning.
> Solution: go to work early and have breakfast at a diner or at your desk.
> Often the most seemingly obvious solutions were a surprise to the person
> needing them. But I can't think of any cohousing examples just now.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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