Re: Article in the Wisconsin State Journal
From: Joani Blank (jeblankswansway.com)
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:30:07 -0700 (PDT)
Below is the text of an email that I wrote in response to an article on cohousing that appeared a day or two ago in the Wisconsin State Journal, Madison WI:

Cassidy,

Thanks for sending me this.......

I do appreciate that you took the time to prepare the article, but frankly I was very unhappy to see the headline. Now, I know enough about newspaper journalism to know that the authors of newspaper articles almost never get to write the headlines for their articles, and I really want to believe that you did not write "giant dorm for grownups" headline.

However, those words, said by a young visitor (perhaps a college student herself) about a cohousing community--presumably one of the two existing communities there in Madison--, are just the kind of words that are incredibly offputting to many, many of exactly the kinds of people whom we know would otherwise be attracted to cohousing.

I fear that the appearance of this headline plus the fact that you gave that quote prominence by using it very early in the article will make it very hard for the two new communities getting started to find local people who want to consider living in them. And many more people, I fear, will read only the headline before turning the page, or will read down only to where that quote appears before losing interest in the subject altogether.

You do mention very briefly, though quite a bit later in this long article, that in cohousing communities there are private homes, but you do not use the term "common house" even once, and when you talk about the common kitchen/dining room, you do it in a way that suggests that most or all meals are communal.

In the mid-nineties, the cohousing movement was significantly held back, I believe, by quite a number of articles on cohousing that carried sensational headlines such as "Communes For the Nineties!" I'm afraid I'm having a 'deja-vu all over again' with "Giant Dorms for Grownups."

You told me, I'm quite sure, that you had visited Village Cohousing, and that you had an appointment to visit Arboretum Cohousing as well within a day or two after we talked. For this reason I'm quite surprised that you didn't get it that a cohousing community is nothing at all like "a giant dorm for grownups." And no one who actually lives living in any cohousing community in North America would ever describe where they live that way.

Finally and this is a point of personal privilege if you will, I did not say that I attended a seminar on "reluctant husbands." What I said was that many years ago there was a thread on the cohousing listserv on that subject.

I used that thread as an example of the fact that concerns about inadequate privacy in cohousing are not uncommon when the future resident group is in the group formation and planning phases of a new project, but that this is rarely problematic or the concern disappears altogether once the residents have moved in.

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA

cc: Alice Alexander, Executive Director Coho/US

p.s. I did not say I "work for" The Cohousing Association; I said that I am a volunteer for the Cohousing Association. What I've written here is one person's (my) opinion, not that of the Association.


>
> Thanks again for your help giving me some background on cohousing. I wish I'd had room to include more of your great stories! I hope you enjoy this look at cohousing in Madison:
>
> http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/a-giant-dorm-for-grownups-cohousing-developments-on-the-rise/article_67673bc2-a16f-5816-ae8d-054b58460d68.html
>
> Again, thank you for your help!
>
> Cassidy McDonald
I do appreciate that you took the time to prepare this article, but frankly I was very unhappy to see the headline. Now, I know enough about newspaper journalism to know that the authors of newspaper articles almost never get to write the headlines for their articles, and I really want to believe that you did not write "giant dorm for grownups" headline.

However, those words, said by a young visitor (perhaps a college student herself) about a cohousing community--presumably one of the two existing communities there in Madison--, are just the kind of words that are incredibly offputting to many, many of exactly the kinds of people whom we know would otherwise be attracted to cohousing.

I fear that the appearance of this headline plus the fact that you gave that quote prominence by using it very early in the article will make it very hard for the two new communities getting started to find local people who want to consider living in them. And many more people, I fear, will read only the headline before turning the page, or will read down only to where that quote appears before losing interest in the subject altogether.

You do mention very briefly, though quite a bit later in this long article, that in cohousing communities there are private homes, but you do not use the term "common house" even once, and when you talk about the common kitchen/dining room, you do it in a way that suggests that most or all meals are communal.

In the mid-nineties, the cohousing movement was significantly held back, I believe, by quite a number of articles on cohousing that carried sensational headlines such as "Communes For the Nineties!" I'm afraid I'm having a 'deja-vu all over again' with "Giant Dorms for Grownups."

You told me, I'm quite sure, that you had visited Village Cohousing, and that you had an appointment to visit Arboretum Cohousing as well within a day or two after we talked. For this reason I'm quite surprised that you didn't get it that a cohousing community is nothing at all like "a giant dorm for grownups." And no one who actually lives living in any cohousing community in North America would ever describe where they live that way.

Finally and this is a point of personal privilege if you will, I did not say that I attended a seminar on "reluctant husbands." What I said was that many years ago there was a thread on the cohousing listserv on that subject.

I used that thread as an example of the fact that concerns about inadequate privacy in cohousing are not uncommon when the future resident group is in the group formation and planning phases of a new project, but that this is rarely problematic or the concern disappears altogether once the residents have moved in.

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA

cc: Alice Alexander, Executive Director Coho/US

p.s. I did not say I "work for" The Cohousing Association; I said that I am a volunteer for the Cohousing Association. What I've written here is one person's (my) opinion, not that of the Association.


>
> Thanks again for your help giving me some background on cohousing. I wish I'd had room to include more of your great stories! I hope you enjoy this look at cohousing in Madison:
>
> http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/a-giant-dorm-for-grownups-cohousing-developments-on-the-rise/article_67673bc2-a16f-5816-ae8d-054b58460d68.html
>
> Again, thank you for your help!
>
> Cassidy McDonald
>
--
/_______________________
Most people don't know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don't get too comfortable & fall asleep & miss your life./

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.