Re: hospitality-privacy quandary
From: Chuck Harrison (
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:12:06 -0700 (PDT)
Duwamish cohousing has 23 units (mostly duplexes) on a 2.7-acre urban
parcel which spans across a city block. The higher-elevation side faces an
arterial route with a bus line and a nearby community college campus; on
this frontage we have a pedestrian entrance. The main entrance to the
community is on the lower side, which is a cul-de-sac on a residential
street. Because of the elevation difference, the street grid does not
connect between the residential neighborhood and the arterial; our private
property provides a connecting pedestrian pathway. This was an intentional
part of the original site design. I would guess we get a few dozen people
walking thru every day, most of them regulars. There are very few problems
with this arrangement; the only one I recall involved a late-night

Our signage basically says "This pathway is our private property which we
are sharing with you, please be nice so we don't have to close it off."

A separate issue has been making it clear to neighborhood kids that they
cannot play on our property unless they have a resident with them and a
resident adult takes responsibility for their presence.

There has been occasional property crime, which I consider pretty much
unavoidable in urban living; we do not consider it to be particularly
related to the thru foot traffic. If anything, I think our "public service"
generates a positive feeling in the surrounding community which wards off
vandalism, even though we do not engage very strongly with the neighborhood.


On Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 11:10 AM, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]>

> Interestingly Mosaic Commons Cohousing and Camelot Cohousing, built at
> the same time, on the same property, have differing views on the
> question of how open our space should be.
> Our two communities are in an almost-rural location (lots of farms,
> but also a mall nearby). Our land is between two pieces of town
> conservation land and has trails used for walking and horseback
> riding.
> At Mosaic we have tried to be as welcoming as can be to outsiders--our
> labor day, new years and memorial day parties, our porch crawls, our
> meals are generally open to the public--although it is rare for
> someone to come who is not connected to someone in the community.
> But we've invited politicians who show up door-knocking to come back
> later for a social event. Meals require an RSVP but are on our public
> calendar and visitors come fairly often (like once a month?)
> At Camelot there was a feeling that it was important to build close
> relationships in their own neighborhood, especially at the start. (In
> both our communities it took several years to finish selling the homes
> so initial move-in was often a time for folk to get their first
> in-depth knowledge of each other.) So they have mostly closed events
> and no public web site.
> I have to say that it is not clear to me that one way is better than
> the other in this area. I'm glad that *I* live in the more open
> community, but I don't see evidence that one way is better for
> creating cohesion and the other is worse.
> The fact is, both communities have people show up un-invited. We all
> have to say hi to people we don't know, and the braver people ask
> those unknown folk who they are going to visit. Whatever are our
> internal rules and culture doesn't actually affect the decision making
> of unknown people--because of course they don't know us!
> What I would want to be clear to any community is that we can't
> actually provide some of the safety (or whatever value) they think
> they will get from making a rule about having unknown people around.
> Only an actual locked gate can keep people out--and even then your
> neighbors have relationships with people you don't know and they will
> be allowed in.
> One of the challenges that I see with cohousing is that some people
> come with expectations that it will provide a safety or privacy or
> certainty that it can't provide any better than any other
> neighborhood.
> Liz
> On Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 8:43 AM, Alan O'Hashi via Cohousing-L
> <cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
> > in our urban community, silver sage village has a very lush and shady
> court yard. there's supposedly a rule against dogs on the common spaces,
> but people and people with their dogs wander through all the time without
> incident.. itinerants are generally greeted and engaged.
> > there are also neighborhood kids who stop by from time to time and like
> to hang around on the detention pond grass. using the strength based
> approach, they aren't shooed away, but welcomed.
> *******************************************
> > Alan O'Hashi - ECOS
> > EnviroCultural Organization Systems
> >
> > Colorado 303-910-5782
> > Wyoming 307-274-1910
> > Nebraska 402-327-1652
> > *******************************************
> > _________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >
> --
> -Liz
> (The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
> Minister to the Affiliates, Ecclesia Ministries
> 508-450-0431
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