Re: Question about "dining clubs"
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2013 07:04:02 -0700 (PDT)
Racheli -- 

Your view makes a great deal of sense to me.  Things change over time.  People 
change -- we certainly get older, that's for sure!  What worked at the 
beginning of our community life together may not work now and may work again in 
another 5 years.

Seems to me the important thing for having a healthy community is the 
willingness to experiment -- to try stuff out --  with new systems -- of all 

I heard one of the head Pooh-bahs from Google last night being interviewed by 
Charlie Rose.  Google X is a creation of the parent Google that is designed 
just to experiment on any given topic/subject/need etc and to do so with the 
confidence that failure is a very positive sign.  Failure is a good thing in 
Google culture.  

How would your communities be changed by having more experimentation in how we 
live together?  What our social norms are?  Governance?  Social capital?

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Sep 17, 2013, at 9:48 AM, Racheli Gai wrote:

> 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, ...
> Racheli.  
> 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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