Re: participation in decision making
From: Fred-List manager (
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2015 05:10:06 -0800 (PST)
Diana Leafe Christian <diana.leafe.christian [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
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Responding to Liz Ryan Cole, who on Jan 6 wrote:

> Many cohousers though want to be part of the planning and
>decision-making. That basic participation is one of the six key
>characteristics of a cohousing community.

> I am wondering how existing communities deal with bringing in new
>people who can't possibly participate in decision making design of an
>already built community.  Isn't the important participation in the
>life of the community?

In my experience, this key characteristic of the six characteristics
described by Chuck and Katie applies to newly forming cohousing core
groups before and during the time when the site plan, Common House,
and housing units are being designed, but not afterwards. And it
doesn't seem to matter, re the appeal of living in cohousing.

Several years ago a resident of Two Acre Wood cohousing, the late
architect Michael Black, observed that in cohousing in the US, by the
time of move-in, 80% of the residents had not been there when the core
group and architect designed the community -- they had not
participated in the design at all but they still wanted cohousing. In
other words, one fifth of the residents in new cohousing communities
help design their community, and four fifths do not. So Michael and a
developer friend developed Yulupa Cohousing in Santa Rosa, in which
Michael designed the architecture without any group input, and he and
the developer presented it to potential buyers. Those who liked the
design and wanted to live there bought in; and those who didn't want
to for any reason (such as not liking the design), didn't. By the time
it was finished and he the other residents lived at Yulupa Cohousing
they all liked the design just fine, or they wouldn't have bought in.
(It has quite an usual design, if you've ever visited or seen photos,
and is not to everyone's taste, though I personally love it.) Anyway,
being able to help design their community hadn't seemed to be a factor
in people's decision to move there. And, like other cohousing
communities (and every other kind of intentional community I know of),
over the years there were still plenty of other issues to decide on
together, and they did.


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