Re: Question about "dining clubs"
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 07:45:11 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 14, 2013, at 9:37 AM, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]> wrote:

> I don't want to live in a community that makes it so I can't sometimes meet 
> with only my closest group of friends.
> AND I don't ever want to be in a situation where a person has to stumble on 
> that not knowing. So I wish for signs that announce PRIVATE EVENT other 
> strategies to make it clear what is going on.

I think there are social cues that conversations are private -- or that it is 
purposeful in some way for just these two people. A sign makes it a little odd, 
partly because it attracts attention. Curiosity is aroused. We have what I call 
a "Vassar Girl" with old school manners who will say, "We're having a head to 
head here over ___ issue. Can you come back later?" She knows how to navigate 
the social waters from years of social education. Not all of us have that.

But the question was about institutionalized exclusion and how far that can go 
inside a group and still have one community rather than having like high 
school, the ins and the outs. How institutionalized can the ins and outs be for 
how long without affecting the rest of the community. It isn't enough to say 
form your own group. Forming small groups isn't the point. We don't need 
cohousing to do that.

I find it disappointing that we have lost the sense of one community that we 
had when we moved in. As new and newer people move in, they are less and less 
committed or engaged with that idea. There isn't an effort to include everyone. 
If someone isn't there, a question to be raised about why or an effort to 
follow through to find out. But then we are much larger. We moved in with 48 
adults and now have 65. That's more than 25% increase. And a crucial one. How 
many people can you make contact with frequently enough to feel as if you know 

How large can a group of people be and maintain a group identity around things 
like meals and meetings. Meals with more than 25 people get pretty loud and 
require more organization. What is the tipping point into formality and 
exclusion, conscious or unconscious, and wanting some of them to go away?

In a larger group there are more people of a specific age or status, like 
couples, so they tend to form a group themselves. In the smaller group that 
moved in, singles dominated -- in 43 units there were only 5 couples. it is now 
almost 50-50 but many of the singles have children so they are more involved at 
home. We've gone from 7 to 20+ children. Only two live in a household with 2 
parents. Some people want to not gather sometimes because of difficult children 
with "relaxed" parenting. 

I'm sure other communities have reverse demographics.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"Exhaustion is not about being tired, but about being disheartened." Jerry 

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