Re: "specialized" cohousing [was Cohousing for Senior Artists]
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2017 10:43:22 -0700 (PDT)
> On Mar 16, 2017, at 1:29 PM, Roger Studley <roger [at]> wrote:
> Art is one of these, where
> living in community with other artists can support the creative process.
> (Hence the existence of artist colonies.)

Artist Colonies that I know of are not full-time communities. They are places 
where artists go to work for a period of time -- a week, a month, etc. For 
visual artists it is often to use the technology like paper making or digital 
photography printers. For writers it is to get time alone with no distractions 
in order to write. There are usually evening dinners where people gather and 
talk but they are optional and not everyone attends. 

One writer’s colony for example has very small cabins for each writer. Lunch is 
left on the door step. Writers are asked not to interrupt other writer’s days.

That peer contacts and easy proximity are important is true, but living with 

My daughter has a cluster of friends from college that have remained friends. 
They vacation together with all their kids and spouses, etc. Many have moved to 
Maine. I said, of course, “Why don’t you build a cohousing community." She 
said, "Because we would no longer be friends."

> Moreover, I'm a little surprised at the degree of sentiment against the
> idea of specialized communities. There didn't used to be senior cohousing,
> and now there is. Maybe themes or specialization will work in other
> contexts too, and maybe it won't. I think the only way to find out is to
> try.

It isn’t a question of animosity, it’s reality testing. If you can do it, you 
can do it. A Jewish community, as you say, would have a body of teachings, 
practice, and history in common. Artists are thought to have a commonality that 
doesn’t really exist. They don’t have that center of teachings identity.

It’s just important to be realistic. Measure your success along the way. Pay 
attention to whether your group is growing. Ask people that you think would 
have been perfect but never came back after the orientation why they didn’t. 

Also define the experience and expression of Jewish life — “living together in 
cohousing can support the experience and expression of Jewish life.” The 
expression of Jewish live means something very different to someone who is 
defiantly Jewish but not religious and someone who is Hassidic. 

Like visions of a meditation focused group or a yoga centered group. Each 
person who is attracted will have a different vision. You may not find out how 
different until after move-in when each one starts living with their own 

I’m not trying to be discouraging, just to point out that cohousing works  
because of certain features.  And as Chuck Durrett once said, "You can only do 
one thing at a time. Do you want to build a cohousing community or do you want 
to build environmentally sustainable buildings?” 

Along the way you will have to make choices. How Jewish do residents have to 
be? Would I rather live in cohousing or a Jewish community? If the Jewish 
community is the most important, maybe I don’t need cohousing. If the cohousing 
is important, maybe I can find my Jewish community somewhere else. Or work to 
build a Jewish community that may not be cohousing but fulfills similar needs.

Another controversial statement: Cohousing is first about real estate. The 
community is a dream. The dream — the vision — is what keeps people going but 
the real estate is essential. And that’s a big nut to crack. Not as big as it 
used to be when only 10 existed, but still big. You need enough people with 
enough dollars. If your dream is clear enough, you will find them. Maybe.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC

"The truth is more important than the facts." Frank Lloyd Wright

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