Re: Rental policies
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011 12:06:03 -0800 (PST)
Community versus privacy, and liberty versus order, are two of the great 
dichotomous themes of American culture and history.  If we ever manage to get 
it right, then life would be pretty dull.

R Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
175 Harvey Street, Unit 5
Cambridge, MA 02140

On Nov 12, 2011, at 2:44 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

> On 10 Nov 2011, at 12:27 PM, Diana Carroll wrote:
>> Laws force people who want to do something NOT to (or TO do something they
>> do NOT want to.)
> I understand what you mean but most laws regulate living together so everyone 
> in the community has the same understandings and expectations. Particularly 
> in cohousing we adopt them by consensus, they are community agreements 
> designed for the welfare of everyone in the community.
> As odd or unfair as many of us think zoning laws and construction codes are, 
> whether we agree with them or not there is usually a good reason they were 
> made by the communities that made them. 
> If there are no such understandings, it isn't a community. Some 
> understandings can just exist but the larger the community and the more 
> complex and the more it is involved with affecting the basic needs for food, 
> shelter, clean air, personal boundaries, and relationships, the more they 
> need to be written down and formally accepted.
> I live in a community where we have had a number of new people move in who 
> are wonderful and very energetic and very involved. Some new people just 
> moved in and melted into the woodwork so we didn't really notice a 
> difference. The active newbies have pointed out to us how many expectations 
> we have that are not written down. One flurry was over a new person, here in 
> Dec for the first time, reserving the whole CH for an afternoon and evening 
> between Christmas and New Years. Another on Christmas Day night. Another on 
> Christmas Eve. No one, literally no one had ever done this before. 
> We have movie madness every night between Christmas Day Night and New Years's 
> Eve — someone chooses and shows a film often on a theme like comedies, old 
> classics, etc. Sometimes a double feature with an early movie for kids. Since 
> people are not teaching, kids are off from school, and others have short 
> weeks or days, we leave the CH free for spontaneous and non-exculsive events. 
> There is almost always events on Christmas Eve and during the day but no one 
> organizes it until the last minute. Some of us were really shocked when the 
> CH was "taken away" but the new people couldn't have known.
> Some new residents have been very frustrated to come up against so many 
> "agreements" that aren't written anywhere. Since they are often told 
> different things by different people, they want things written down. And 
> because many of the older residents don't like to have to start over every 
> time a new person "starts over" we want them written down too.
> That is not to suggest that everything being written down is possible or even 
> desirable but avoiding it won't make a strong community unless you are very 
> small, have simple interactions, do not own property, are not liable for 
> member actions, etc. To view these agreements as forcing people into behaving 
> certain ways is counter-community building. 
> I am always amazed that people think they can't question rules. My own 
> approach is to want the agreement/policy/rule/law but also to have a process 
> for exceptions. So members can post a message that says, I understand that 
> our agreement is such and such but this situation is different and I need to 
> _____. If you have objections please let me know before ____.
> No agreement/policy/rule/law will cover all needs so there will be exceptions 
> but having them provides stability and common understandings.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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