Re: Question about "dining clubs"
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2013 06:48:54 -0700 (PDT)
In response to Rick:

I think that, at least in some cases (such as mine) things were the other way 
around:  Only after I figured out that common meals don't
work for me very well, for a variety of reasons, did I start looking to create 
something else.  I did want to eat with others, but didn't wish to eat with all.
So, I and some others created an eating circle that included everyone in my 
immediate cluster of houses (what we call a "placita"), plus a few other 
households.  We didn't use the CH, but dined  outside in our placita.  
We got attacked for years by a few people, because (they said) it wasn't open 
to all.  (Actually, it wasn't really closed, but people who weren't a part of 
the core group needed to ask to come, because there space is limited, and there 
was no way to fit everyone.)  I don't remember that we ever turned anyone down. 
 One person called us a "cabal", and claimed that we conduct community business 
during the meals, or some such...

Assuming that community-wide common meals are a benefit for all is assuming 
that we're all the same, and that our needs are all the same.  For some, 
getting together with whoever shows up is fine.  For others, this isn't the 
case, and one of the benefits of cohousing, IMO,  is that it affords other 
options.  I can get together with some of the people I really care to hang out 
with and have a meal.  Common meals always seemed to be a noisy and hurried 
affair to me, and at this point in my life I prefer to hang out with the people 
I have deeper relationships with, have real conversations, ...


On Sep 16, 2013, at 8:09 AM, Richart Keller wrote:

> Seems to me that the notion of exclusive "private clubs" in cohousing
> undermines its basic benefit.   I think its important and natural for
> people to want to do things with those with whom they feel most
> comfortable. However formalizing small exclusive groups breaks up the
> overall sense of community which is central to successful cohousing.  It
> creates a breeding ground for discrimination and factionalism. The veils of
> secrecy which result are the antithesis of an open supportive community.
> The practice resurrects the dysfunctional aspects of American society for
> which cohousing is supposed to be an alternative.
> Rick Keller
> On Sep 16, 2013 10:14 AM, "Joanie Connors" <jvcphd [at]> wrote:
>> It seems to me many times that you all are inventing the next wheel. As our
>> society has moved away from the village model, we have lost touch with each
>> other, and we have lost community. How our world is suffering for those
>> losses!
>> Community is the only thing that will help our world recover from these
>> dark times. All of the struggles you are talking about are the work of
>> community, how to balance individuals, families, friends and the community
>> we live in with the greater community outside?
>> You need a repertoire of solutions, rules, guidelines, compromises to make
>> it all work, as nothing works for everyone or at every time a problem comes
>> up. Thank you all for your diligent work and experimentation!
>> My two cents - it's always important to strive for the common good in
>> balance with the needs of individuals and families. If the common good is
>> suffering, then perhaps households are not remembering that they need to
>> contribute (sacrifice) in order to keep the whole healthy.
>> For example, perhaps in the original situation, some of the groups could
>> meet together on alternate weeks or months in order to have more community
>> time. The schedule of meals that Jennifer was talking about would
>> definitely neglect community needs.
>> Thanks all,
>> Joanie Connors
>> still forming community in Silver City, NM
>> On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 8:16 AM, Sharon Villines
>> <sharon [at]>wrote:
>>> 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 them?
>>> 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
>>> ----
>>> Sharon Villines, Washington DC
>>> "Exhaustion is not about being tired, but about being disheartened."
>> Jerry
>>> Koch-Gonzales
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