Re: Use of email
From: Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:50:16 -0800 (PST)
OK, I’ll try pitching this a different direction:

As a practicing architect, I rely heavily on a synchronized combination of 
e-mail, blog-like things, wiki-like things, and on-line databases to manage 
multi-million construction projects.  Divergent views and interests always have 
the potential to erupt into disputes of significant time / money consequence; 
PDFs with binding contractual implications fly back and forth on a daily basis. 
 The construction team still needs, and relies on, regular face-to-face 
meetings to do the heaviest lifting … but on the whole, the Internet exchange 
works very well, and is a huge improvement over the phone-and-fax communication 
technology of a mere ten or fifteen years ago.

So here’s my question:  Why is the Internet regarded as such a high-risk, 
error-prone, annoying and alienating vehicle for cohousing communities?  Why 
are e-mails seen as the problem, and meetings as the solution?  More generally: 
 Why is our professional experience irrelevant for doing business in a 
residential setting?

R Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On Feb 10, 2014, at 3:58 PM, Caity McCardell <caity [at]> 

> Tierra Nueva cohousing recently made a list of email agreements. We decided
> not to call it "email etiquette" since that implies saying "thank you" and
> "please," and really what we wanted to convey was a sense of what works and
> what doesn't work.
> To answer your questions, Malcolm, we've had our share of "blame and shame"
> but this agreement seems to have helped a bit, and is a great reminder when
> things get out of hand. For those who don't use email, important
> announcements and business matters are posted in our office. Here's our
> list:
> I agree:
> 1. to keep all emails as short, factual and clear as possible;
> 2. to refrain from forwarding mail, unless it is related to TN business;
> 3. to include all Tierra Nueva residents in community business email;
> 4. to provide clear subject headings;
> 5. to not assume that everyone will read it (a copy should be posted in the
> common house office if it is important community business);
> 6. to discuss in person, rather than on email, controversial topics.
> In spite of the fact that I'm a heavy email user, I definitely appreciate
> #6!
> ~Caity

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