Re: participation in decision making
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2015 05:45:31 -0800 (PST)
As an architect living in cohousing, I will insist cohousing is not really 
about the architecture.  While design, construction, and property maintenance 
always will use up a lot of time and money, this is true for your grandfather’s 
condominium as well.  Cohousing is about culture and lifestyle, not about real 
estate.  Unless you are living in a cohousing mausoleum or historic theme park, 
this culture will be in a constant state of evolution, and will always require 
collaborative decision-making about important matters.

I think that was Sharon’s point, as well as Diana’s.


> On Jan 8, 2015, at 8:10 AM, Fred-List manager <fholson [at]> 
> wrote:
> 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]>
> after restoring subject line (from 'digest') and fixing date.
> Digest subscribers, please delete most of quoted digest and
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> --------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
> Hello,
> 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.
> Diana
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