Re: Does your community have a Teen Room?
From: Karen Carlson (
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2013 23:39:23 -0800 (PST)
We have a room for younger children and a second room that during our planning 
stage, was thought of as a teen room.  This was not without controversy.  One 
set of parents didn't feel teens should have a separate room; others thought it 
was a really good idea and would be welcomed by teens.  As a community, we 
never faced the controversy (perhaps bec we only one teen at move in) and let 
time dictate the use.  It is on rare occasions used by young teens and some 
young adults but mostly it's used by older children (maybe 7, 8 on up).  
Sometimes it's a terrible mess but a number of parents work to keep it in 
check.  It can be used for meetings when other spaces are busy but that happens 
very rarely.  So, I would say it has evolved into a second room for kids.  
We'll see what will happen as these children hit their teens. 

I should add that we have an exercise room with a ping pong table, foosball and 
air hockey (along with exercise equipment).  This room is popular with kids.

Arboretum Cohousing Community
Madison, Wi

On Jan 17, 2013, at 12:32 PM, Bryan Syverson wrote:

> La Querencia Fresno Cohousing has a teen room that has been reclaimed for
> use as a multi-purpose room.  As parent to one of the community's teens, I
> feel that our experience might be informative.  Our community opened 4
> years ago.
> The teen room was intended to be a hang-out spot, but it was also intended
> to be mostly self-managed by the teens themselves.  However, the space was
> generally a horrible mess.  We couldn't show it to prospective community
> members during open house.  We had ant infestations.  It sometimes got
> really awful.  We had several interventions coached by one or more of the
> teens' parents to get the teens together to make plans and implement them.
> Despite good intentions and a burst of organizational energy, attention
> eventually faded and the room would deteriorate again.  Finally, the
> community decided to change the purpose of the room.  It sits vacant now
> awaiting the decision of an ad-hoc committee (led by one of the teens).
> There is a proposal and we probably have funding for construction that
> needs to happen before it can be re-purposed.
> However, I think the room was doomed to failure from the outset.  The space
> is owned by the community and the community can reasonably request that it
> be maintained to the community's cleanliness standards.  The space was
> maintained by teenagers with teen-age standards of cleanliness.  The
> problem is the gap between those two standards.  Someone needed to manage
> that gap.
> The choices are (1) for adults to clean up after the teens; (2) for adults
> to force the teens to clean up to the community standards.  Both of these
> involve varying levels of work and stress.  None of the teen parents were
> willing to step up (we're already managing this in the teen's bedroom!)
> Understandably, no other adults in the community were willing to step up,
> either.  However, we had no shortage of adults willing to condemn the
> teens' behavior.
> I think our teen room was doomed from the outset by an unreasonable
> expectation:  that teens could self-police themselves and maintain a shared
> space to meet adult cleanliness standards.  There are many in our community
> who think that our teens are somehow particularly lazy, sloppy, and
> unmotivated.  However, I think our teens are typical.
> So, if you want to have a teen room that works, either (1) lower community
> standards to let the teenagers really have their way or (2) muster a team
> of adults who either clean it or don't mind mustering the teens to clean
> it.  The experiment failed here.  There are many threads on Cohousing-L
> about the effort that most communities put forth to avoid the "tragedy of
> the commons" in adult-shared spaces.  Even more effort is required when the
> exclusive users of a space and the owners of that space have different
> standards.
> -Bryan
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