Re: Question about "dining clubs"
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 11:31:00 -0700 (PDT)
Sylvie's post so resonates with me, and has also prompted some additional 
thoughts (and focus) :

If I was married to a guy who insisted that I shouldn't spend time and have 
deep connections with people other than him (or without his permission), 
because such relationships weaken our "union", I would have objected 
strenuously, and if such a pattern of behavior (of blocking/objecting to other 
relationships) persisted, I think our marriage would have come to an end.  I 
think it's common to see objections to other relationships within a partnership 
(marriage or some other) as immature and unhealthy.  I also think that many 
recognize that one's emotional health depends (for many of us, if not all) on 
strong connections with more than one other person,  and that having multitude 
of such relationships can STRENGTHEN the relationship between partners rather 
than weakens them.   If that's true regarding one's primary partnership(s), why 
is it that some feel that in cohousing those who feel "left out" by other 
people's strong connections with people other than themselves  should somehow 
have a say regarding such relationships?

I'm not saying that people "shouldn't" feel left out - I sometimes do.  It's 
natural, and most of us are not healthy enough to always feel fully secure in 
any or all of our relationships, to not feel on occasion jealous, or what have 
you.  But feeling left out does  not mean that we have the right to constrain 
other people's actions.  It means, it seems to me, that we have shit to work 

Of course, since resources are limited, and eg: only certain number of dinners 
can happen at the CH, figuring out how much of the excess needs to be given to 
the community in its entirety, and how much can be allotted for other purposes 
is important.   An architectural features like the ones Sharon mentioned 
compound the issue, because for a private group to dine in the common area 
seems to interfere with other residents' lives more than one would hope for.  
So, just like in one's primary relationship(s), there are also issues to work 
out...  But if what's being worked out involves  denying some their right to 
free associations (including ones which involve gastronomic features :)) - 
then, IMO, everybody is going to suffer in the long run.


On Sep 18, 2013, at 6:46 AM, S. Kashdan wrote:

> This is Sylvie Kashdan of Jackson Place Cohousing in Seattle, Washington.
> I also feel that providing space for individual and small group social needs
> and
> desires is an important way of strengthening the greater cohousing
> community. As cohousers we really already know that enabling small groups of
> people to meet their own needs and desires in the ways that work best for
> them is a positive for the larger community. The
> existence of cohousing communities depends on the larger community (the city
> or county, etc.) giving cohousing communities the opportunity to develop
> even though they are somewhat different from other housing situations. And,
> providing opportunities for smaller groups of people within cohousing to
> address their individual special needs can do the same for the cohousing
> community.
> As a person with an age-related hearing impairment and some food
> sensitivities (that have sometimes left me with very little I could eat at a
> common meal), I
> have requested on and off over the years that Jackson Place Cohousing start
> dinner clubs and
> possibly areas in the common house dining room separated by sheer curtains
> during common meals to improve hearing by small groups at tables. But,
> because so much energy is put into the meals program, no one has been
> actively interested in having small group dining clubs in our dining room.
> some community members
> have also opposed these ideas because they felt they would interfere with
> community sociability at common meals, while they feel that long tables
> increase community sociability. So, the result is that I do not go to most
> common meals, and it turns out that there are others here who do not go to
> most common meals either... for their own individual reasons...  even though
> most of us are involved in the cohousing community in other ways. However, I
> should say that something like one half to two-thirds of all residents here
> probably do attend some common meals.
> Cohousingly,
> Sylvie
> Sylvie Kashdan
> Community Outreach Liaison
> Jackson Place Cohousing
> 800 Hiawatha Place South
> Seattle, WA 98144
> From: "Racheli Gai" <racheli [at]>
> To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
> Sent: Monday, September 16, 2013 8:04 AM
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Question about "dining clubs"
> But what are "community needs", and who gets to define what they are?
> To me, small groups meeting to eat together is an expression of community,
> too.  And how much should individuals suffer or "sacrifice" because of
> community "needs"?
> I'm not saying that there aren't whole community needs, I just wonder how
> often people talk about "community  needs" which are tailored to suit their
> own personal interests.
> [The words about "sacrifice" raise for me the specter of the Nation/State, a
> huge trigger (which is a main reason I felt move to write this...)]
> Racheli.
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