Re: Is Commonspace cohousing? [was: We're in Time!
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2017 07:51:03 -0800 (PST)
I will agree with Alan: Personally, I think cohousing is a social contract, not 
a collection of architectural features.  For me, the key values embedded in 
this social contract are …
Empathy:  We learn each other’s names and personal histories, interests and 
anxieties.  When the going gets rough, we try to remember we are friends, and 
to extend each other the benefit of the doubt.
Reciprocity:  We are pro-active in supporting each other in daily life, in 
helping each other out.
Sharing:  We minimize cost and waste by finding ways to make sharing work.  
This means households sometimes share private things the community needs, and 
the community sometimes owns and maintains things that benefit many or most 
Participation:  Each of us expects to contribute both to physical labor (if 
able-bodied), and also to management tasks, either policy or implementation.  
Collaboration in the routine lays the foundation for collaboration under duress.
Equivalence:  We are all equally important, equally empowered.  Our goal is to 
invent a community that works reasonably well for each of us, that offers 
something to everyone.
Now, these contract values do have significant design implications.  For 
instance, size matters.  A “community” of 500 households and 800 members will 
probably fall short in the empathy dimension:  There’s no way any of us can 
remember the names, histories and quirks of 800 people (especially if it’s a 
retirement community).  And the shared common house clearly is a vital asset 
for instantiating the other values.  The contract can exist in a great many 
different architectural configurations … but the architecture will not, of 
itself, create the contract.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

> On Nov 20, 2017, at 9:21 AM, Alan O'Hashi via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
> <mailto:cohousing-l [at]>> wrote:
> sounds like this place has elements of community, like a dormatory - separate 
> rooms, common spaces for interaction.
> i also don't buy the one-size-fits-all approach to cohousing. the intentional 
> community social fabric can overlay all kinds of housing configurations. 
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> Alan O'Hashi - ECOS
> EnviroCultural Organization Systems
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