Re: do you really value diversity?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2016 13:37:54 -0800 (PST)
On Nov 15, 2016, at 10:52 AM, Eris Weaver <eris [at]> wrote:
> 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.

Defining diversity also depends on context. Some of our residents believe that 
we are not diverse because we do not reflect the same balance of European and 
African heritage as DC. Records vary but it has declined from ~90% African 
American to ~50-50 others —European, Islands, South American, etc. We are the 
diverse, not the Africans Americans.

When I told a story here a few years ago about our military residents — one 
being a major in the army, an intelligence officer reporting to the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, and a lifetime army reservist, there was great surprise. One 
person emailed me to ask “How do you get through dinner together?” We have 
people who work for the World Bank, others whose agencies depend on their 
grants, people who protest against the bank, and people who protect bank 
employees from the protesters.

In terms of what we learn from living with ethnic and cultural diversity, it 
much more than skin color. 

The diversity tension that I find myself struggling with is the institutional 
or standardized vs residential- informal. It is very easy for a multi-household 
planned neighborhood to look like commercially managed condo with few owner 
determined features. While cohousing has benefited from allowing many of the 
best practices of condominiums being adopted or at least not ignored because 
that’s what “they” do, they also set up filters through which owners view their 
own property and neighbors view the community.

Rob Sandelin, an active cohousing facilitator in the 1990 and early 2000, said 
he sees communities becoming less diverse as they develop. Like is attracted to 
like. And the community reflects the druthers of the current residents.
I like a sense of order and design but I don’t want to look as If we are 
marketing everyday to the condo owner for whom the condo will be a bedroom on 
the route to other condos, offices, and restaurants. I think a cohousing 
community should look like homes with residents of many different interests, a 
place inhabited by many age groups for many activities outside as well as 
inside the individual unit.

Can you define your community as diverse if you can’t include skin color.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.