Re: Orienting New Members to the Values
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 06:56:51 -0800 (PST)
> On Feb 28, 2015, at 3:27 AM, Katie Henry <katie-henry [at]> wrote:
>> Do we need to DO something to make sure people who are committing to
>> Louisville Artists Cohousing really support the values and vision? 
> I looked up your core values:
> The values are vague enough that pretty much anyone would be willing to 
> commit to them. But how are these values going to be interpreted and enforced 
> in the real world? 

I agree with Katie. This is the number one problem with values statements. They 
mean nothing unless they are connected to a mission and aims. The same 
organization can say we value environmentally friendly products and processes 
and mean entirely different things. I'm sure there is an executive at BP that 
can tell you they are one of the most environmentally friendly multinational 
corporation on the planet.

Focusing on Vision, Mission, and Aim statements, all of them, might be more 

What is your vision? What would the world look like if you were able to achieve 
it? What is the Dream?

What is your mission? What is the thing you are building? A spaceship? A 
factory? A park?

What is your aim? Aims change frequently as you move closer to accomplishing 
your mission. They are measurable things that can be produced. You will know 
when you have done it. 

The best place to start is usually with the aim because it is tangible, but 
this is a process and you will move back and forth between them.

The major issue, in addition to dreams (vision) not connected to aims, is the 
mission. The mission has to be very clear and short. And it can't go in all 
directions. Building a community is hard. Building a residential community is 
even harder. Building a cohousing community is one mission. Building a 
residential community for artists is another.

Cohousing is based on a model of home ownership and long term stability. 
"Self-managed housing" and "good neighbor" are terms that are fairly easy to 
define and comprehend. But when you combine that with a commitment to another 
mission, things get very difficult and opportunities start to close. "Artists 
who can afford to own homes" is pretty much a contradiction in terms. The more 
serious the artist the less the artist is likely to even be interested in a 
self-managed community. They want to do art.

I speak as an artist having lived in the West Village and Soho in Manhattan and 
small arts communities in upstate New York, and taught many students in arts 
departments in universities. It's hard. "What is an artist?" is the first nut 
to crack. How do you enforce practice? Who says whether another person is or is 
not an artist or is or is not practicing? And people change over their 
lifetimes. I no longer paint, for example. Many artists switch to one art or 
the other. Or even change fields. Do art historians count? Do anthropologists 
studying crafts?

New York City has a certification process for artists, or used to. It certified 
artists for eligibility to live in Westbeth, a subsidized housing project for 
artists. You can probably find it online. It asks for education and arts 
participation records, like exhibitions, active memberships, etc.

Such housing is usually based on rentals and recertification. In cohousing if 
people can't be kicked out, what do you do?

There is also the question of artists living with artists. I'm not sure how 
many artists you want in the room all the time. Stimulation for artists usually 
comes from outside the arts. They may like to live like artists and to be 
understood to be an artist, but at some point, the conversation needs to be 
about a lot of other things. And based on some authority, not just what this 
artist or that artist is thinking.

One topic that comes up often here is how to attract households with children. 
The best answer has been design a playground outside and a playroom inside. 
When people see that, they know you are serious.

I would approach the arts interest the same way. Build into the CH and the 
budget specific percentages for space and funds for arts related activities. 
Put it in the Bylaws. People who don't want to pay for that, won't join.

Sorry this is so long but I have a lot of first have knowledge about this issue,

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"The truth is more important than the facts." Frank Lloyd Wright

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