Different world-views in CoHo (was Re: Elevator Buildings)
From: Greg Nelson (ghnmercury.pgt.com)
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2012 09:03:43 -0700 (PDT)
This is a long, meandering, and possibly controversial message, so I'm
offering this warning as "opt-out" here at the top!

A few months ago, there was a thread on elevators in buildings.  I'm
just reading it at last, but it struck me as strange because it
reinforced how some priorities of co-housing are clearly shared, while
others are DRAMATICALLY different.  Clearly we come to this shared
ideal of co-housing with a range of different "world views."

The quote that got my attention was (in part):

> Aside from the question of cost effectiveness, our community [...]
> This was way above code [...] 
> we wouldn't have considered not having an elevator [...] 
> It was (and is) expensive but considered a 'must-have'. 

It seems clear to me that the community where this poster lives has a
dedication to inclusiveness, diversity, and many other things that are
central to co-housing.

And yet, from the same goal of inclusiveness and diversity, we can
come to very different conclusions.  As mentioned in a recent post,
ours is a community where homesteading, growing our own food, and
similar interests are common.  This has us thinking about
affordability in a different way: ideally we would like it to be
possible for someone to live here as a farmer, which implies a very
minimal income.

Regrettably, some of the early decisions we made (with the advice of
co-housing consultants!) pushed us out of the affordable range where
we'd prefer to be.  We have homes right now that range from $125,000
to $250,000 -- I think our median price is probably *half* of what
I've seen as an average on this list -- and STILL we're too expensive
for many people who might consider living here.  There are home
designs out there (200-300 sq ft) where the whole construction costs
would be less than our lot fee.

Thus, when we look at a question of whether to include an elevator in
our common house design, we come to a very different conclusion
*despite* both conclusions arising from the same ideal.  So, there
have to be some other inputs to the process (different world views?)
that lead to the different conclusions.

When these questions come up, I think a lot about what our ancestors
did 200 years ago before the industrial revolution.  And I think about
the lifestyles of those who lived where I do 300 years ago before our
ancestors forced them out of their home.  These lifestyles probably
have more in common with each other than either does with the way we
live today.  I honestly believe that the industrial revolution is
about to be "over"... so given the choice between small homes that
require little energy to heat, and buildings so tall that they require
an elevator, the decision is obvious for me.  But that's just my

I'd like to hear a little more about the world-view that leads to the
conclusion that elevators (or gas heat, or TVs in the common house)
are a "must-have."  

I'm afraid I'm too quick at leaping to this conclusion: that it's the
same world-view that leads to the idea that veggies come from the
store (not the farm), that the personal automobile is a "must-have",
or that "sustainable growth" is not an oxymoron.  I'd like to see some
other ideas about this, hopefully ones that are less jaded than my
default way of thinking.

I suppose one useful outcome of this would be a better filter to help
each of us find people who are a good fit for our respective
communities, so that we start out closer to consensus because we don't
have world views that differ so greatly.

Best regards,
Greg Nelson                     email:  terramantra [at] gmail.com
White Hawk Ecovillage           phone:  607-273-2576
Ithaca, NY 14850                web:    www.whitehawk.org

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