Re: Diversity Problem
From: Philip Dowds (
Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2018 07:24:52 -0700 (PDT)
I don’t want to minimize the significance of “race”, or the degree to which 
race and ethnicity have had both constructive and destructive impacts on 
American society.  But I’d like to offer this counterpoint:

For those of you who think diversity means skin color, I’d like to suggest that 
the real diversity challenges in cohousing are not ones of race and ethnicity; 
they are ones of divergent value systems.  For a few simple examples:
     (a) Some households expect to invest their personal time and money to 
“improve" their community.  Other households think a community is “improved” 
when it minimizes its demands for the limited time and money resources of its 
     (b) Some families think children develop best when they are allowed to run 
free, express themselves fully, and self-develop creativity and initiative.  
Other families think children need some supervision, discipline and guidance — 
and, should behave with restraint when in the presence of (non-family) adults.
     (c) Some people favor very clear rules governing most situations, and 
reliable adherence to those rules.  Others feel that most of life is a special 
case, and instead of rigid rules, a community should operate with common sense, 
flexibility and empathy.

I think these divergences in world view are far more significant to diversity, 
and possible conflict, than skin color or gender preference.  And thus far, 
I’ve been unable to observe much consistent correlation between these basic 
alternative value systems, and race / ethnicity / income variations.  So the 
diversity challenge in front of all our communities, in my opinion, is not What 
we do to ensure skin color variations, but rather, How do we react when 
confronted with values diversity?

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at]

> On Aug 3, 2018, at 12:52 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> 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.

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