Re: Common function areas in neighborhoods?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2015 02:13:10 -0700 (PDT)
You are proposing a civic institution at the sub-neighborhood level, the level 
of a block (where housing shares back yards and back doors), or perhaps a 
street segment (where front doors face each other).  One of the interesting 
aspects of this approach is its scale:  While a “neighborhood" may have 
thousands of housing units, this model organizes more around hundreds or maybe 
even dozens, depending on the density of development.  This is getting much 
closer to the customary size of a coho community (say, 20 to 40 units).

Even so, I am not convinced that architectural manifestations will stimulate 
community where none otherwise exists.  Will residents actually care about and 
use a clubhouse dropped in their midst by a benevolent municipality?  Will they 
value this opportunity if they did not themselves invest their own time and 
money to create it?  A few probably will; but for the majority, probably not.  
And, would such a facility get captured by factions, leaving others to demure, 
“Oh, that’s not for us, that’s for the Hispanics (or the Baptists, or the 
Democrats, or the old timers …)”?  You hint at a governance model of “circle 
processes” for “problem solving and planning” — but this is relevant only if 
this institution has autonomy … where autonomy equals resources to deploy and 
the authority to assign purposes to those resources.  Where did such money and 
power come from?  Did the city give it away to the houses?

So you may have cause and effect reversed.  Most of the time, it’s not 
facilities that promote community.  Instead, it’s the intent to create and 
maintain community that will result in visible, well-used, and well-loved 

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 Aug 30, 2015, at 8:56 PM, Rick Gravrok <rick.gravrok [at]> wrote:
> I had this idea years ago, what it every block in every city had one house
> & lot (donated by the city?!) for  daytime child care, home schooling
> classes, gardening and a play area/sandbox, with a garage where folks could
> work on cars, bikes, etc.
> And evenings for: classes, discussions, Circle Processes (for problem
> solving and for planning events, Transition Town meetings, political
> discussions) and for neighborhood card nights, Flamingo Fridays, movie
> nights, etc.
> Some nights would be just for adults, or teens, or grannies, or ????
> Invite politicians to visit. Do Talent Show nights.
> What are your ideas?
> *Rick*
> Monterey Cohousing Community
> St. Louis Park (Mpls) MN
> Rick Gravrok
> St. Louis Park, MN
> 952-926-6655 (landline preferred)
> iPhone 952-220-8153
> On Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 11:43 AM, Richart Keller <richart.keller [at] 
> <mailto:richart.keller [at]>>
> wrote:
>> Just a thought...
>> One of the most important aspects of cohousing is the Common House. ...

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