Re: Thoughts From a Longtime Cohousing Resident
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 10:03:43 -0700 (PDT)
As is often the case, Sharon V speaks my mind. 

> ... how many people can a community support who come because it advertises 
> itself as supportive?... How many people with limited ability to tolerate the 
> kind of conflict that diversity inevitably brings? How many people who need 
> daily support at one point or another?
> Advertising ourselves as open to all has its limitations in a society where 
> it is not true elsewhere.

As the main marketing contact, I can only give those who inquire about buying 
as much information as possible about who WE are and what we do and expect, and 
hope they will self-select. Some years back our left-leaning community was 
approached by a nuclear submarine captain. I told him he'd need to be 
comfortable with after-dinner announcements about demonstrations against war 
and nuclear issues, and mentioned that, yes, I did know where Bangor Naval Base 
was: I'd been arrested there! Suggested that if he moved here, perhaps we could 
carpool some time.... (He ended up getting assigned elsewhere.) 

I find plenty of diversity already in our mostly educated middle-class 
center-to-left residents: we still have a surprising amount of diversity in 
terms of attitudes and values about money, for one example. 

Our main challenges in any way we might hope to encourage some sorts of 
membership are that (a) our property is open-market, and can be sold by an 
estate or departing member via realtors, without necessarily entailing our 
orientation intervention, though we do our best to find buyers when a property 
is for sale, and (b) even when we do meet with interested parties, we can only 
offer information and encourage visiting meetings etc: we still cannot either 
keep people from buying who don't seem a good fit, or really know how new 
members will function once on board. Furthermore, some members change over the 
years: some of us have been with this project over 20 years and mentally and 
emotionally there can be changes. We are fortunate that so far we have always 
kept a critical-mass of members who value and participate in community with the 

Ironically, I've noted that, among inquirers, gushy over-enthusiasm for how 
wonderful it will be in cohousing is a red flag. I'd rather sell to someone who 
is clear that there will always be some contentious members in group process, 
that not everyone will be their personal friend, that it can entail not only 
expense but work and time spent helping others and the group as a whole. Those 
who have huge expectations are bound to be disappointed, which can lead to 
resentment or withdrawal. You'd think the Outreach team would be all about 
cheerleading for cohousing, but often we are offering a reality-check. 

Which reminds me, it's about time I wrote a piece for the local paper, which is 
a good way to keep up a public profile of who we are, with the potential to 
attract inquiries from folks who would enjoy living here. 

Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
Port Townsend WA

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