Re: Thoughts From a Longtime Cohousing Resident
From: Jerry Koch-Gonzalez (
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 07:58:58 -0700 (PDT)
I like Zev's framing. I would change one word: rather than tolerance, I'd
say acceptance. As in the felt difference between "I tolerate you" and "I
accept you."

On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM, Zev Paiss <Zev [at]> wrote:

> Thoughts From a Longtime Cohousing Resident
> The idea of community is a concept we see and hear about all the time.
> Spiritual community, social community, online community or even the people
> who live in your neighborhood are example of modern-day communities.
> But what does it really take to live successfully within a close community
> of people? Over the past 18 years I have had the opportunity to live in two
> very different Colorado cohousing communities. One was rural and quite
> large with 42 households, and the other is quite urban and small with only
> 11 households. Both neighborhoods use the cohousing principles of resident
> participation, design for community, shared common facilities,
> non-hierarchical decision making and resident management.
> What I learned over these years is that while living in community is not a
> solution for all the world's ills, it is far better than living isolated in
> either a large city or in the suburbs. After all humans are a social
> species and for 95% of human history we have lived in extended families,
> tribes and villages. Deep down inside living in community is the norm.
> >From my personal experience living successfully in community takes at
> least four attributes:
> 1. Honesty - Because of the higher level of interaction members of a
> community cross paths and effect one another more often and on more levels
> that living by yourself or only with your nuclear family. Telling the truth
> becomes even more critical in this situation. Honesty can sometime be
> brutal so the intention is to be honest without intentionally causing harm,
> ridicule or shame.
> 2. Patience - Clear communication takes time. Individual listening and
> processing styles can vary greatly. While one person may be able to hear a
> suggestion and act immediately more often we require time and distance to
> integrate new information before being ready to act. Depending on the form
> of decision making in a community it may take quite a bit longer for a
> decision to be reached than in a more typical top-down decision making
> arrangements.
> 3. Tolerance - Even in a community of middle income white suburbanites,
> the amount of diversty can be astounding. Differences in political,
> spiritual and religious beliefs, communication and parenting styles, life
> experience, economic status, age, sexual orientation and birth order all
> contribute to who we are. Because of the increased closeness and
> interdependence of community members, successful community living requires
> a level of tolerance beyond what is typically needed in our artifically
> independent society.
> 4. Generosity - When I was in the stage of attracting new members to my
> current cohousing community where I have now lived for 16 years, it was
> clear that a person was not going to do well if their first question was
> "What can this community offer me?" Rather potential community members need
> to consider what they are bring to the "party." Through random acts of
> kindness and generosity community life can become rich and supportive
> without any one member feeling burnt out.
> With just these four attributes living in community can be a rewarding and
> supportive experience. And as we weave our way through the Great
> Transition, this will become more and more important.
> You can read more at my blog at:
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Jerry Koch-Gonzalez
Member, Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community
Principal, Both-And Consulting <>
Member, The Sociocracy Consulting Group <>
Certified Trainer, New England NVC <>
President, Class Action <>

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