Re: New member intro, from CT
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 06:53:44 -0800 (PST)
Welcome to Cohousing-L, Tina -- you're doing just fine, and your post
reminds me that we're overdue to invite any other "lurkers" out there
to de-cloak and let us know who you are, where you're at, and what
you're looking for.

It's great to have you here and Green Haven represented as part of
this virtual community.

It was exciting to learn of your upcoming training, and I wish you
well; it always warms my heart to see cohousers invest in the tools
and training that can make their process more fun, efficient, and
productive, bringing in professionals from other fields as well as our

I feel compelled to comment on one thing you mentioned in passing:
> We've even had Raines Cohen drop in on one of our meetings

(blush) while ubiquity may be my personal brand, and I have visited
over 100 US cohousing neighborhoods, I should mention the context that
made this possible, lest communities everywhere start to expect me to
spontaneously manifest anytime they start chalking runes on the floor
and chanting the necessary invocations.

I also would like to use this opportunity to provide some insight on
what it takes to manage the complexity and be in many places while
spending very little, and what drives me to take a series of little
detours to do all this.

Feel free to go on to the next post as this one doesn't have much to
do with cohousing -- except in the sense that living in community
provides the support and inspiration for this sort of connectivity and
evangelism, weaving threads together as a Cohousing Coach to support
the movement.

I'm particularly inspired to share by the book "Walk Out, Walk On,"
which I just participated in book-charting as part of a study group at
a workshop -- but more on that later. It profiles several people in
communities who are edge-walkers like myself. The following chronicles
just two weeks in my world.

In November, 2010, my wife and business partner Betsy Morris traveled
to Sunward Cohousing in Ann Arbor, MI, while participating in the
North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) conference in town,
while I helped organize a sharing booth including cohousing at the San
Francisco Green Festival, participated in a "Ripple the World"
fundraiser in Santa Rosa for a group that's lead cohousing tours,
coached an Australian community-seeker, renewed our county Green
Business Certification by showing off the green systems of our shared
space in a LEED Platinum-certified building (the David Brower Center
in downtown Berkeley), celebrated the one-year aniversary of our
coworking space (The Hub) and participated in the launch of the
Sustainable Economies Law Center with our friend Janelle Orsi,
co-author of The Sharing Solution and then-resident of a
micro-cohousing neighborhood here in Berkeley (CA).

I hopped a red-eye and met up with Betsy in New York City for a 1-day
workshop that we wanted to learn more about, organized by a new
coworking space (a shared office community, based on participatory
principles similar to cohousing) expanding there from London, using
visioning and organizational development tools similar to what many
cohousing groups do. We ended up the day meeting with an architect
interested in developing cohousing in the area at New Work City, an
established coworking space.

That evening, we took a cheap commuter train trip to Philadelphia to
participate in an annual conference for the Beacon Hill Village
movement that helps people stay in their homes as they age -- I
consider it an "on-ramp" to cohousing (especially senior cohousing)
and wrote about both movements in my Aging in Community chapter in the
book Audacious Aging. We stayed with her sister there, visited my
cousin, and I went to a meeting of Wissahickon Ecovillage, a forming
Philadelphia-area cohousing group that had just found (but later lost)
a site, run by my friend Lynne Iser who I got to know through Chuck
Durrett's Senior-Cohousing "Study Group 1" training workshop.

And late that week we bopped up to Boston and stayed with my folks
nearby while attending the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)
organizational meeting at Mosaic Commons in Berlin, MA -- I was on the
board there, and Betsy has now joined it as I step off.

I keep an eye on the community calendar on, and had
been following Green Haven's progress for many years, so I had noticed
that the group would be meeting after Sunday evening after my meetings
wrapped up -- and Betsy would be flying home early that evening to
participate in the Behavior, Energy and Climate change conference in
Sacramento, CA. I got in touch with the group and hopped on Amtrak for
the short ride down to New Haven and a group member brought me to the

As I told the group, I was impressed with its unity, cohesion and task
focus; they dined together, met at a member's home, and seemed to
spend a lot of time paying attention to each others' needs, a visible
manifestation of their caring. It was clear that this was a genuine
community, not just a real-estate development. At the time, they
thought they had a site, but it turned out to be one of many "fire
drills" that forming groups go through. As a result, the conversation
was mostly about logistics and next steps in building the group; I
shared some models other groups used to build commitment.

My key mission there was to urge them to get as many folks as possible
from the group to the next national cohousing conference in DC and get
connected with the movement, so I'm delighted to see that some did,
leading to valuable collaborations like the upcoming workshop they're

After the meeting, I got a ride back to Boston with a co-worker from a
quarter century ago (I was a junior-high-school summer intern at Lotus
when it was 5 people in a basement) who is now forming a cohousing-ish
community in New Hampshire -- one of my everyday reminders of what a
small world we live in.

Way too early the next morning I popped over to Chicago for workshops
on LEED standards for Neighborhood Design at the US Green Building
Council's national conference, staying in the small residential
community in the upper floors of the Institute for Cultural Affairs
(ICA)'s building -- I had gotten to know this innovative organization,
which pioneered the Technology of Participation (ToP) methods that
involve putting cards on "sticky walls", naming and clustering them
under the direction of the group, through the dear departed Fred
Lanphear of Songaia Cohousing (Bothell, WA), who had served with me on
the FIC board and mentored me in facilitating a gathering of New Earth
Song, an aging-friendly offshoot of Songaia Cohousing, where he lived.

(I just this past Monday night returned from Sacramento where I was at
the ToP Network's annual conference (where I did the aforementioned
book-charting) and a training on using the methods with Appreciative
Inquiry, so I'm buzzing with refreshed ideas about how to use the
tools in community -- plus I got to join a common dinner at Southside
Park Cohousing and visit friends there, including Liz Stevenson, who
shares a virtual "wave hi" to all her friends here).

>From there, I used up all my frequent flier miles to get to the first
European Coworking Conference in Brussels, and ended up visiting
coworking spaces and a workshop in London, but that's a story for
another time.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing
  where we were just joined for common dinner last night by Jennifer
Ryan, another serial cohouser, who migrated from being Ann's neighbor
at Takoma Village Cohousing to Temescal Creek out here in Oakland, CA;
she got several of my neighbors buzzing about potential talks and
topics at the next national cohousing conference coming to town in

Co-manager, East Bay Cohousing
  the world's largest Intentional Communities/Cohousing MeetUp group,
now with over 1500 members seeking sustainable community in the Urban
East San Francisco Bay Area. And partner groups in Silicon
Valley/Peninsula, San Francisco (hosting a Getting it Built workshop
in March), Marin, and all around the state through Cohousing

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