Re: Article in the Wisconsin State Journal
From: R Philip Dowds (rpdowdscomcast.net)
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:58:45 -0700 (PDT)
In a majority of the cases where I encounter a newspaper article, or see a TV 
story, about something of which I’m exceptionally well informed, my reaction to 
at least part of the story is, Oh no, that’s not right at all, what a bad way 
to describe something-or-other!  This gives me pause to be skeptical of all 
stories (like the Greek debt crisis, or whatever) for which I have no 
systematic knowledge or insider role.  (Which of course is most stories.)

We should keep in mind that all reporting is imperfect in some degree, 
selective in others.  We cannot control and — in the land of free speech — 
don’t even want to control how we get characterized by the media.  All we can 
do is be ever available, open, persistent and cheerful, believing that the 
inevitable garble diminishes over time.

Even so, I have to agree that "giant dorm” doesn’t hit the nail on the head.

Thanks,
Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at] comcast.net <mailto:rpdowds [at] comcast.net>

> On Jun 30, 2015, at 3:29 AM, Joani Blank <jeblank [at] swansway.com> wrote:
> 
> 
> 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./
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