Re: Common house design
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 24 May 2015 09:59:41 -0700 (PDT)
Interesting.  My experience with the long table is that you can converse 
reasonably well with the person right or left, and the three (left, right and 
center) directly across.  But after that, you are shouting past abutters who in 
turn are trying to shout past you.  This interferes with my fine dining 
experience.  In general, I prefer small groups of four to six at one table, 
which facilitates linear rather than disjoint conversation — but I 
intentionally mix it up, so I’m not sitting with the same small group month 
after month.

It’s worth mentioning that when my wife and I were in China last year, most of 
the meals were at a very large round table for about ten persons each, with the 
rotating glass tray in the center.  Conversations broke down into two or three 
adjacencies, and the food service worked extremely well.  As the tray slowly 
rotates, both turned and paused according to individual motivation, you learn 
about sharing, collaboration, and deferred gratification — all of which are 
important to the cohousing lifestyle.

I believe it was you, Sharon of Takoma Village, who once mentioned a trend away 
from huge common meals toward smaller, more selective "dinner parties".  Do I 
remember correctly?

R Philip Dowds
175 Harvey Street, Unit 5
Cambridge, MA 02140

land:     617.354.6094
mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at] <mailto:rpdowds [at]>

> On May 24, 2015, at 12:31 PM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] 
>> wrote:
> In our dining room we have tables that can seat 6 but they are more often 
> pushed together in a long line. People seem to like the look of things with 
> individual tables but prefer to sit at long tables. It’s more communal 
> because you can talk to more people, either to the right or the left. You 
> aren’t “stuck" with people who don’t talk or who leave early. Or talk to each 
> other and not you.

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