Re: What next after group forms?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2012 09:28:09 -0800 (PST)
On Nov 13, 2012, at 5:37 PM, Michael Barrett <mbarrett [at]> wrote:

> I'd suggest some brainstorming sessions inviting expression of pros and cons 
> on as many cohousing
> styles as folks can think of, to be posted on the wall without comment.  This 
> can reveal ideas (and
> maybe misconceptions) about what cohousing living may be like.   Better to 
> tease out these issues
> sooner rather than later.

I think Michael's suggestions are good ones. I would also add that these ideas 
will change as people tease them out. Forming a community is a process, not a 
thing. People come to it with many ideas, many of which are not conscious. As 
they tease these out they will discover new things and change with those. New 
people join and everything changes again.

One way to approach this is to keep the agenda focussed on short term actions 
so you can move forward, and do longer workshops on vision and ideas that are 
more freeform or focused on exercises to help people formulate together what 
they think the community might be. This way you both "get something done" and 
begin growing together. 

Until you take action, you have no information on which to make decisions. But 
the actions can be baby steps, not leaping to a final plan.

I watched one community die because some members insisted that they had to have 
a mission statement before they could do anything. Thus they never did anything 
and people drifted away after months of meetings with no answers and no action. 
Few people have a window longer than 2 years in which they can put their lives 
on hold and work toward this new vision. They need something very concrete 
within that time frame, not finalized necessarily but predictable.

Ideas, and participation, will continue to change after move-in when they are 
tested against experience.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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