Re: Takoma Village Has a New Face Book Page!
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 01:00:58 -0700 (PDT)
On Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 2:21 PM, T G <triciamill9 [at]> wrote:
> I joined this forum a while back hoping to learn more about cohousing.
> I seem to be finding out instead is that there are a lot of very
> opinionated people that like to chime in and aggressively disagree and
> insult other people's opinions.
> After much time reading past threads, I think I might end up staying away
> from cohousing. People on here seem to love to complain about other
> people's ideas

Tricia -

Thanks for your honest feedback on this list, and your reflection on what
you feel it means for your quest for a home in a cohousing neighborhood.

Some things you might want to keep in mind:

- We are not a cohousing community. This list brings together the most
passionate, opinionated advocates (and aren't they wonderful?) living in
community, building community, and, like you, seeking community. In an
actual community, there will be just a few of us ornery folks, balanced by
a wide range of other personalities. When one gets to be too much for you,
there's someone else to talk to or sit with at common dinner. Sure, most
people in cohousing are there for a reason, and will not hesitate to share
about their beliefs about the way things ought to be. But in real life we
don't actually force people to stay in conversations. That would be a cult,
quite the opposite of our choice-creating communities.

- We are not conversing in person. Decades of studies and learned
experience has found that electronic forums like this one lead people to
express themselves differently, often more stridently than they would in
person. We don't have the nuance of non-verbal communication or even tone
of voice, or the feedback we get from seeing the faces of the people we are
talking to. The nature of e-mail lists leads us to feel like we are putting
a message in a bottle, so it is incumbent upon us to bundle up our
strongest statements and send them out in the world.

- We live in places that value transparency and openness. Sometimes that
means sharing something in a way that comes across as stronger than you'd
encounter in non-community life. More than "agreeing to disagree," we have
set up cultures where it is all of our responsibility to bring forward the
most relevant information, our own perspectives, and our strongest
critiques, in the service of helping the group most rapidly devise the best
possible proposal that can move forward. Despite the oft-repeated
stereotype, we are not "a bunch of like-minded people" -- and that's a good
thing! Our diversity is our strength (and we'll readily complain about all
dimensions where we lack it, and maybe even take steps to do something
about that, individually and collectively).

That said, your self-analysis is important, and cohousing certainly isn't
for everyone. it takes a willingness to listen and engage, the ability to
hear these things as gifts rather than attacks. And the ability, perhaps
learned through lived experience that teaches us that it is safe, to open
up and share and take the big scary step of asking for help when needed.
Cohousing isn't always that, but at times it can be sublimely connected.

There's a reason that cohousing has been called "The most expensive
personal growth workshop you'll ever encounter."

It takes a tolerance for meetings. Patience. A willingness to listen. The
ability to say "Yes, and..." rather than "No." A delight in the opportunity
to learn the quirks and strengths and challenges of an evolving set of
people, that you get to call neighbors. And maybe, sometimes, something

Do listen to your heart, but please don't let the online discourse of a
handful of the over 10,000 people living in US cohousing neighborhoods keep
you from taking meaningful exploratory steps. Have you gotten to visit any
cohousing neighborhoods on National Cohousing Open House Day or other
tours? Joined any common meals or observed any meetings? Come to any of the
national or regional conferences? Reached out to places where you might be
able rent or visit or house-sit? There's no substitute for the in-person
experience of meeting the people and living in community to know whether
cohousing is right for you.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach and Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) Ambassador
   At a GEN training in Estonia, making plans for how to help communities
in the SF Bay Area and at the East Coast Regional Conference rediscover
their relationship to a bigger-picture movement with social, cultural,
environmental and economic aspects, linked through whole-systems design.
And appreciating that while traveling, my neighbors at home were able to
take care of something important for me yesterday, so our homes and
vehicles are well-tended, secure, and getting put to good use in our
absence. All the while learning that a younger neighbor (not one of the
stereotypically disconnected older ones) doesn't necessarily see emails
every week, so we need to adapt our communications styles and methods.

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