Re: Governance & Income Inequality
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2015 13:59:06 -0800 (PST)
Sharon Villines wrote:
> I was once a part of a group that started a parent cooperative school. The
> was that all parents should pay but only pay what they could afford to
pay. Never
> again. People have incredibly different ideas of what they can afford to
pay. I would
> only do such a thing with objective standards against which everyone was
> No standards can ever be perfect but they more equitable when it comes to
> than self-determined standards.
> Eris has done a nice small book on talking about money. I recommend it and
> Money is a central issue in cohousing because it has to be coped with one
way or
> the other. Someone has to do the building for owners or for renters.
Someone has to
> pay the bills. How people feel about it varies widely. You need to know
how your
> groups feels and what their expectations are.

Thanks for the shout-out, Sharon, I had a bump in book sales today!

I second your concerns about just letting people pay "what they can afford."
What does "afford" mean? If we're all chipping in to buy something and I pay
less, somebody ELSE has to pay more. If I make less money because I've made
the life choice to work part-time or in a nonprofit or a lower-paying
profession, why should someone who made different life choices -- working 60
hours a week in a high-pressure job, for example --  pay a higher share than
me?  If you've chosen to be childless, why should you subsidize my third
kid?  True, some of the factors contributing to our relative wealth are
outside of our direct control or choice -- the social class in which we were
raised, money we inherit, the death or departure of a spouse, the career
implications of racism/sexism/etc. -- but whatever amount of money we have,
we make choices about how we spend it - what we "afford."

To most of us, "affordable" means "what I'm willing to pay."

The more diverse your group is -- on ANY vector, not just income -- the more
challenging consensus will be.

Things cost what they cost; I think someone else talked about the gap
between the things we WANT to include in our projects and what we're willing
to PAY for them. One of the most heart-wrenching gigs I did was with a
now-defunct group that had been in deep denial about their true inability to
afford new construction. Build an environmentally sustainable, beautiful,
large, low-density project in CALIFORNIA for $150K per unit? Not in this

Personally, I think too many of us try to somehow fix all the problems of
the world in our little cohousing microcosm. Can we do a lot of things
better than in the mainstream? You bet. Can we fix homelessness, economic
inequality, all the isms, violence, global warming, etc. all in one
cohousing community? Nope.

Eris Weaver, Graphic Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
eris [at] • 707-338-8589 •

“On days when you have no ideas at all, the best thing you can do is start
doodling.” Charles M. Schulz

fa cil i tāt: to make easier

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