Re: do you really value diversity?
From: Tiffany Lee Brown (
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:04:30 -0800 (PST)
in terms of “telling the cohousing story,” cohousers can (and must) decide what 
sort of story they want to tell. 

Tom is on the money: some ideas are wrong. i tend to lean subjectivist, 
relativist, epistemological-crisis philosophically, but even i can see that 
Hitler was evil, and the everyday Germans who politely failed to intervene 
against Nazism were perhaps not evil but definitely “wrong.” ethnic cleansing: 
wrong. genocide: wrong. casual racism: also wrong. 

if “the cohousing story” is “we stood on the sidelines while racism, sexism, 
bigotry and violence against immigrants, etcetra swept across our land, because 
we’re really nice, diverse people”, then hey, run with that. don’t be shy. be 
honest. it would appear that a large swath of America agrees with you. 

put it right there on your brochures: WE WELCOME RACISTS. maybe print up some 
bumperstickers, “COHOUSERS HATE WOMEN, TOO.” send out a press release: Local 
Cohousing Community Hosts Westboro Baptist Church Conference in Common Room. 
“We wouldn’t want to discriminate,” said a spokesperson, “so we hope the LGBTQ 
folks who bought condos here back when liberal values were popular in cohousing 
will approach this meeting with an open mind.”  “Dialogue is necessary between 
all peoples,” added a Westboro representative, waving her “God Hates Fags” 

>>> Remember that any time someone tries to divide people with a wedge issue
>> or
>>> a black and white label, they're doing it for their benefit, not yours.

i gain no benefit from suggesting that people stand up for their values, nor 
from suggesting that cohousers should be very direct and honest about telling 
their story. explicit racism is not “a wedge issue.” it’s wrong. just plain 

 still a wannabe cohouser in the red-state half of Oregon

> On Nov 17, 2016, at 7:46 AM, Richart Keller <richart.keller [at]> 
> wrote:
> One doesn't have to agree with all of a person's ideas in order to talk
> with them and listen to them.  Even to befriend them or at least
> acknowledge their humanity.  Political change really requires interpersonal
> communication and relationships.
> On Nov 17, 2016 7:21 AM, "Tom Smyth" <tom [at]> wrote:
>> But isn't this just kind of relativism when taken to its extreme? Can't
>> some ideas be just *wrong, *and on the wrong side of history?
>> Did abolitionists have an obligation to sit with, listen to, and really
>> understand the ideas of slaveholders? I'm kind of glad they didn't.
>> I guess it depends on the "idea" being talked about.
>> On Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:59 AM, Chris Poch <chris [at]> wrote:
>>> I think Eris hits on an important point that I have wanted to write
>>> something about given the events of the past week, but she has said it
>>> better than I could.
>>> Many of the problems cohousing addresses are problems common to all
>> people,
>>> so the concept should translate across the political spectrum. If we
>> can't
>>> tell the cohousing story in a way that is appealing to most types of
>>> people, we have failed to make our audience as broad as it could be and
>>> miss out on making cohousing into something bigger than it currently is.
>>> There are many aspects of cohousing that explained correctly should be
>>> equally exciting to the most liberal and the most conservative members of
>>> our society. Maybe different things about cohousing excite different
>>> people, but that's already true - people choose cohousing for different
>>> reasons. Maybe we won't all live in the same community, but even if one
>>> particular community leans right or left, there should be room for other
>>> communities leaning in the other direction.
>>> Remember that any time someone tries to divide people with a wedge issue
>> or
>>> a black and white label, they're doing it for their benefit, not yours.
>> The
>>> reality is that we have more in common than we frequently realize and
>> most
>>> issues aren't black or white. The more we know people who are different
>>> from us, whether it's politically, racially, or economically, the more we
>>> can appreciate the unique challenges and perspective that they have. The
>>> whole decision making process behind cohousing is about giving everyone
>> in
>>> the community a voice. Yes, it might be harder to come to consensus about
>>> some things the more diverse our community is, but many of the big labels
>>> don't even accurately describe the things that are most contentious on
>> the
>>> hyper local level of cohousing - things like pet policies or paint
>> colors.
>>> The most rewarding communities I've ever been part of had real diversity
>> -
>>> and they challenged me to think bigger, question my ideas, and understand
>>> where the other side is coming from, even if you continue to disagree.
>> Many
>>> people's views are also more nuanced than we realize. We have too many
>> echo
>>> chambers already - what good does shouting into one accomplish? I'd
>> rather
>>> be stretched and challenged by a diversity of ideas!
>>> I challenge us all to value diversity more in all of its different forms!
>>> On Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:04 AM Eris Weaver <eris [at]>
>> wrote:
>>>> In my seventeen years of cohousing - as a resident, facilitator,
>>>> trainer,
>>>> and consultant - one of the paradoxes I see over and over in CohoLand
>> is
>>>> the
>>>> tension between desiring diversity yet wanting to live with like-minded
>>>> folks. We kinda can't have it both ways...if you claim to value
>>>> diversity, you need to include political and ideological diversity as
>>>> well. (While cohousers do seem to skew
>>>> left politically, I am quite sure there are not only some Republicans
>>>> but
>>>> possibly Trump supporters among us.)
>>>> I am very aware of how frequently someone will say something along the
>>>> lines of "I think we all agree that..."  and all I can think of is that
>>>> if there IS
>>>> someone in the room who does NOT share that belief, the message they
>>>> receive
>>>> is "you don't belong here" and someone less assertive than I might just
>>>> keep
>>>> their mouth shut and NOT share their diverse point of view. I try to
>>>> eliminate that sort of phrase from my speech, ESPECIALLY when I am up
>> in
>>>> the
>>>> front of the room with the resulting extra power & influence that gives
>>>> me.
>>>> I guess I'm asking for all of us to just be aware that not everyone in
>>>> cohousing thinks the same...
>>>> ********************************
>>>> Eris Weaver
>>>> Founding member, FrogSong Cohousing in Cotati, CA
>>>> Graphic Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
>>>> _________________________________________________________________
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>> --
>> Tom Smyth
>> Worker-Owner, Sassafras Tech Collective
>> Specializing in innovative, usable tech for social change
>> *·* @sassafrastech
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