Realism in Development
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2011 14:31:53 -0800 (PST)
On 1 Oct 2011, at 9:06 PM, Moz wrote:

> older people who had reasonable capital and were risk-averse, so they would 
> prefer to pay a price premium to avoid
> risk [snip] some younger/poorer people who would prefer to buy land 
> ourselves, get the permits and grind through a somewhat slower, riskier 
> process to save 20-40% of the final price (and also spread payments over the 
> 2-5 year process).

One of the tricky parts to developing cohousing is educating the inexperienced 
(and unrealistic) and inspiring the experienced (and jaded). The younger people 
are the less invincible they feel — in terms of both energy and optimism. The 
older they are the less they feel able to take risks but they also have the 
necessary skills.

Talking to new people is like having your children grown up and trying to 
encourage others to have them. On the one hand you want the children so you can 
enjoy them, but on the other you know how difficult it is going to be for the 
parents and for you. I've already told the single-mother-by-choice next door, 
who can barely handle one, that if she has another, I'm moving.

I've noticed recently some of our residents becoming more committed. It's a 
changed energy from people who have always been active but now are more 
realistic about needing clear community agreements that are more balanced in 
saying no as much as yes and determining how much work we can take on for 
ourselves. The projects they take on are more solid. 

There seem to be two common denominators — they have been here for 10 years and 
they are turning 50. I don't have the data to go back and see what age others 
were when they "got serious" about cohousing but I was about 50 too. Of course, 
"getting serious" is in the eye of the beholder too, according to what age they 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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