Re: Public vs Private [was Takoma Village Has a New Face Book Page!
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2018 20:20:48 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon -

Of course, every community includes people with a variety of perspectives
on privacy, from "I'm here, I'm home, get off my lawn," to "isn't this
great that we can do all kinds of things together that welcome the world
in!" I've come to appreciate where I fall on that spectrum among my
neighbors (closer to the latter end) and that informs a lot of what I do
and how I do it, in terms of my home community, like rationing tour access
and designing and scheduling events to minimize impacts on my neighbors,
using other venues for most of my activities, and not dragging visitors
willy-nilly to our common meals.

But the way I fundamentally look at the question of "why are we being
public about our community?" in cohousing is this: sooner or later, your
neighbors are going to change. Love them or hate them, life happens, and
they (or their descendants or their estate's executors or banks that
foreclose) are eventually going to be looking for new folks to buy or rent
homes in your community.

If you've been doing the work to bring in new people and get them familiar
with the community, you've effectively put your thumb on the scales and
made it much easier for people to sell or rent to folks who care about
community. No screening required, just giving energy and resource and time
to enable effective self-selection.

If you haven't, you're at the whims of the market and the people leaving
and entities with the least interest in or awareness of the importance of
maintaining the sense of community. Folks who really want to be great
neighbors will get outbid or miss the opportunity altogether. Neighbors who
want to leave will have a harder time doing so, and may get grumpy and
obstreperous, making meetings more challenging and eroding that sense of
community again.

I greatly admire what your neighborhood, TVC (I always think of it as
standing for Textured Vegetable Cohousing, BTW ;-) ) does in terms of
outreach, building the pool of prospective new neighbors and working with
the regional network, Mid-Atlantic Cohousing (MAC). When homes sell, some
sellers make a contribution in appreciation for the work and expense
they've avoided by not needing an agent to do the marketing. And that gives
the committee the resources to keep it going.

I've been trying to follow in MAC's footsteps with my work over the last
two decades in the SF East Bay and throughout California to help
communities collaborate in building awareness. East Bay Cohousing, our
Berkeley-Oakland MeetUp group, by itself has over 4600 members and
regularly conducts orientations and other activities designed to make it
easier to find, build and join cohousing and other forms of community. It
is great to see that Coho/US is now engaging the regions and building on
the energy there.

Part of the power of community, as I have come to appreciate, is its
ability to help any and all of us get beyond what's in front of us right
now, and the limits of what we can achieve alone or even just what we care
about. You don't have to do the heavy lifting, just allow others who want
to, to step up and do the marketing and community-development work. Give
them feedback that will help them do their important work in ways that
don't intrude on your life.

Yes, maybe there's a little less privacy, especially in terms of showing
the world the community's physical structure and activities, than an
anonymous apartment building would give you. But isn't that worth it for
what you get in the deal?

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach and Cohousing California regional organizer
 living at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing -- where not only don't we have a web
page, we still haven't come to consensus on a community name after a
quarter century. What's the rush?
 currently wrapping up the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) Europe
conference at Lilleoru in Estonia, and starting training on how to help all
cohousing communities see themselves as part of a movement with a purpose

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