Re: The Red Mercedes [was Consensus, Majority Vote, "Blocks"]
From: Wayne Tyson (
Date: Wed, 5 Oct 2011 13:30:33 -0700 (PDT)
Dane, et al:

Your message comes from a place where we all can be rather more than less, but we are in the clutches of culture (mortgages, laws, pepper-spray even though you're behind the barricades, and other general absurdities borne of affluenza). Thanks.

That we "have to" scratch up snips and shards of social interaction despite cultural trappings rather than through a culture that facilitates it, is a sensed travesty which cohousing has the potential to transform. Realizing that potential is not "easy," but it is a fitting, and I think natural, challenge. It is not fantasy--it is vision. One in which rests, if it rests anywhere, the "salvation" of the degradation of life that culture has handed us. We can take back our souls, and we can restore our birthright, and we can reject the pottage that cultural manipulation spreads before us. The temptation is wearing thin, eh?


PS: I hate to send you on a scavenger hunt, but one of my favorite articles of all time is not available on the Internet. The title is "Leisure and Our Inner Resources," by Alexander Reid Martin. It appeared as an insert (dark green paper, making it difficult to copy) in Parks and Recreation magazine (in the 1970's I believe). I can't locate my copy right now, but maybe you can find it through a library--remember those?) Your story reminds me of it. Martin put me wise to Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in [sic] Culture; also well-worth reading.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Dane Laverty" <danelaverty [at]>
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 10:36 PM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ The Red Mercedes [was Consensus, Majority Vote, "Blocks"]

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 Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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