Sharp Elbows, Re: Takoma Village Has a New Face Book Page!
From: John Richmond (
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 14:40:50 -0700 (PDT)
FWIW, I agree with Tricia about this list. A few years ago I posed a naive 
question to this forum and got several responses that were among the most 
insulting I've experienced outside of my trips to Breitbart.

I'm still in a forming cohousing group, though becoming increasingly 
discouraged. I have mostly lurked since then, mostly from having little to 
contribute, a little because I don't think I want to let people here know what 
I think.

While research does show that people communicate with sharper elbows online 
than in person, how much effort does it take to write as if the person is 
actually in front of you?


Message: 2 Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 11:00:33 +0300 From: Raines Cohen To: 
Cohousing-L Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Takoma Village Has a New Face Book Page! 
Message-ID: Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8" On Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 
2:21 PM, T G wrote: > > I joined this forum a while back hoping to learn more 
about cohousing. What > 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 
more. 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. ------------------------------ Subject: Digest 
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