Re: What is intergenerational living?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 2 Oct 2016 09:28:03 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 30, 2016, at 12:10 PM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] 
>> wrote:
> A community of 30-somethings and their children wouldn’t be a good place to 
> live for the adults or their children. Particularly the children. That’s what 
> I fear when I hear about the growth of senior cohousing.

I think my message yesterday may have sounded too harsh. I’m planning back 
surgery in the next month or two. If that wasn’t hard enough, I am trying to 
find people to take responsibility for my tasks. It is not easy. 

The hard parts are the taking responsibility parts. Some people will do a 
specific task (eventually) but not take responsibility, as in "be in charge in 
case something happens." My father was a Marine and my grandmother should have 
been. I’m at least a fourth generation first born. It’s genetic that I want 
someone in charge. I like things relaxed and free-flowing but I need to know 
someone will snap to attention when things start blowing up. Or smelling.

Many of our founding members have reached the ages of 70+, including me. We 
still head the teams and show up at midnight when the common house is flooding. 
I feel guilty about continuing to ask people who are older than I am to take on 
my tasks. They already are doing too much. And doing far more than their share 
for 15 years. But they are totally reliable which is hard to resist.

30-somethings are still used to the older generation being in charge. Changing 
this is like raising one’s own children again, and again, and again, as we have 
new residents. It isn’t a problem with the particular people—we have wonderful 
people moving in. Totally committed to cohousing. It’s the conflict between the 
adult development stages for both the 30-somethings and the 70-somethings. I 
feel like I have more and more children everyday. I’m not good at stepping back 
and just cringing because they want to make the same mistakes that I’ve seen 3 
other generations make. 

I remember one older cohouser years ago, Rob Sandelin, advising a new community 
to stop being house proud. It isn’t a value compatible with cohousing. Well, it 
isn’t ultimately, but it is for most 30-somethings. They are still 
self-defining and planting roots. Every empty nester once spent a lot of time 
building their own nest. But sometimes the nesters forget the trees they are 
building in and the trees forget it needs the nests they are still supporting.

And I’ve become a tree. Over my objections. No consensus in this decision.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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