Re: Does your community have a Teen Room?
From: Holly McNutt (
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2013 12:17:40 -0800 (PST)
Thanks, Bryan. I think this is similar to Nyland's past teen room history. I 
always find it rather comforting to reach out to other communities here to 
discover that we all share the same issues, challenges, and joys.  - Holly

Holly Wilder
Visionary Properties LLC
hollywilder23 [at]
(303) 517-4180 cell
(303) 447-8204 fax

On Jan 17, 2013, at 11:32 AM, 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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