Re: Including disabled people in cohousing, especially forming communities
From: Linda Hobbet (lindahobbeton.com)
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2017 07:34:03 -0700 (PDT)
On 10/20/2017 3:28 PM, Allison Tom wrote:
What have communities done to include members who have significant 
disabilities?  In particular, has anyone successfully negotiated the challenge 
of including disabled people in a forming community?
I belong to Village Hearth in Durham, NC. We have land, plans, and permits and hope to start construction next Spring. At our last workshop Katie McCamant pronounced us unstoppable :-). We just need a few more members to get our construction loan.

We are a senior community and have included people with various degrees of disability since inception. Accessibility has been a key value for us. We will be single level with no thresholds, gentle grades, wide doors, and roll-in showers. We have been fortunate in having more able members willing to step up and help where needed to include the disabled in activities, which is so much more work when are aren't all living in the same place. I hope we have also been accepting of what some people can't do. Our design workshops have been long and exhausting, Some members don't come to every workshop. One has had to leave early because of exhaustion. One falls asleep during them. All are valued members.

Our meetings stick to an agenda and have not been overly long. Some people phone in to meetings, at least some of the time. I think that having an agenda for meetings with time limits and a meeting facilitator (various members have taken this role) has been useful. Our plenary meetings are usually held every two weeks and are two hours in length. I don't think we have ever gone over more than a few minutes.

You are so right about the work of building cohousing being different from living in cohousing. As is true of any group, some people will do more than others and it isn't always, in fact not usually, about disability. Sometimes it is frustrating but I hope we have been understanding. I think the biggest problem is that all the work of creating a community can make people afraid that living in community will be just too much work. We have lost members because of that misconception,

Linda Hobbet

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