Re: Cohousing for Artists [was Cohousing for Senior Artists - Request from CNN
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2017 09:58:33 -0700 (PDT)
> On Mar 16, 2017, at 8:29 AM, Dick Margulis <dick [at]> wrote:
> What about the opposite polarity--a community of mostly artists that is a 
> supportive environment for a few engineers and lawyers? Would that work? Or 
> would the engineers and lawyers feel exploited and get burned out doing the 
> bulk of the practical work?

This is an interesting example. The one difference is that lawyers tend to have 
comparatively well-paying jobs and artists don’t.

As I think about my community the diversity is actually what makes it viable. 
That we have someone who likes to do this or that so I don’t have to. So and so 
is an expert at this and this so we don’t have to hire a consultant. This 
person is good at resolving conflicts. This person loves welcoming strangers. 
This one loves gardening (we have a dozen of those) and the rest of us never 
have to pull a weed.

Another fact that people don’t want to hear about and will argue with. When I 
was teaching, again seeing adult students individually except for a few 
seminars on career and business/life planning, I soon became aware of distinct 
characteristics of people who were interested in this field or that. I began to 
know that a student had chosen the wrong field. They were often transitioning 
in jobs or out of work, so finding the right new occupation was important.

The students who wanted to be elementary school teachers were very structured 
and precise. I had to give them assignments instead of saying, look at the 
materials and pace yourself. Some weeks you will be on vacation and others 
working extra time so you know what you can accomplish each month.

Artists would have gone crazy with the kind of assignments the education 
students expected/demanded/were lost without. Schools may be changing but there 
are still bells, evaluations are becoming statistics based, etc. I would be 
climbing the walls.

One student who was about 35 wanted to become an art therapist. She had been 
working as a graphic designer. I knew from her academic interests and abilities 
that she would not be happy working as an art therapist because they are 
usually more like crafts teachers than therapists. She insisted and wouldn’t 
listen to any questioning. I encouraged her to find an internship very early in 
her studies so she could see for herself. She hated the internship and didn’t 
feel any commonality with the other art therapists. Still she persisted!

The day she graduated she stopped by my office to say she was going to graduate 
school in psychology, which I thought from the beginning would be perfect for 
her. I asked why she wouldn’t consider my questions about art therapy being 
right for her. She said, I was just so scared that I would never finish my 
degree at all that I couldn’t take one moment to question anything. I had to 
keep going.

Fortunately I had been able to have her take the basic number of Psych courses 
to get into graduate school.

A very long way (sorry) to saying that lawyers are particular kinds of people 
and happy lawyers are different from unhappy lawyers, who are probably in the 
wrong field.

Each artist is different, but different within parameters. Cohousing needs all 
kinds of people. Opposites balance each other.

This isn’t to say that a community can’t have special facilities that all 
members can use and that all members will benefit from having even if they 
never step inside the door.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities." Walt Kelly

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