Re: Diversity Problem
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2018 09:52:18 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 3, 2018, at 8:43 AM, Alan O'Hashi <adoecos [at]> wrote:
> What does this tell us? Cohousing is a healing balm for people who grew up 
> alienated in suburbia. It provides community for people who don't already 
> have it. The demographics are what they are.

In recent years I pushed a conversation on diversity for many back-and-forths 
to get to the bottom of what diversity represented to those who wanted it so 
much. I love it but I think trying to force it doesn’t work. Being welcoming 
with the people who find you and publicizing in as many places as possible I 
think is the best you can do.

What the conversation came down to was that it represented social action. It 
was the way or one way a community could show they were supporting social 

What other kinds of social change could cohousers support/implement?

A great many of us in DC have jobs that “contribute” to social change in some 
way. DC is very non-profit and agency rich so we have civil rights lawyers, 
homeless helpers, nutritionists working with Hispanic communities (in Spanish), 
sign language interpreters, interpreters in Spanish for medical visits, working 
for social workers association, non-profit grant writers and awarders, people 
who are consciously underemployed in order to do peace work, accessibility 
consultant— it goes on and on. Therapists of many kinds. 

Even new people moving in are in social change areas (just with larger 
salaries). Or have retired to focus on social change.

We have several adopted children of different nationalities — Chinese, India, 
Vietnamese American, Yugoslavian. We have two residents who are wheelchair 
bound who both contribute greatly to the community but also receive a lot of 
support on a daily basis. We’ve had more than one child with serious behavior 
and adolescent behavior problems that we supported the parents through. Two 
with incipient Alzheimers.

We have households with Black, Hispanic, Jewish, Christian, no religion, 
Buddhists, Hindu traditions, Muslim traditions, gay couples and singles — both 
men and women. Military officers. A bunch of dogs. Many cats. A bad sculpture. 
A broken basketball hoop.

And still people want more diversity!!!!! We have a working group on diversity 
coming up with plans. Bemoaning the fact that we live in DC which has a 49% 
Black population—down from 70% 20+ years ago—and ours is not close to that.

When I make lists like this, I also realize, however, that we don’t have a plan 
for acknowledging the diversity we have. That might be just as well because it 
means we are just people to each other. Neighbors, family, friends. Life goes 
on. The conflicts as far as I know have no relation to the diversity — or we 
worked them out years ago. Christmas Tree in the CH — not a Holiday tree. Not 
prejudice, just different expectations based on personal traditions. We’ve 
managed to make room for everyone and to share each others traditions so no 
single person or minority celebrates alone.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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