Re: Eugene Cohousing (Lynn Dixon)
From: Hollie Butler (
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2018 13:31:59 -0700 (PDT)

I’d love to give my feedback to this, as someone who lead the journey to 
getting her family into Oakleigh Meadow, earlier this year. We are experienced 
cohousers, living in one for three years in our mid-twenties. We’re in our 
mid-forties now, and have two kids. When we inquired at Oakleigh, we quickly 
received the full status of where everything was at.  

So here we are, saying goodbye to Seattle - our home for the last 10 years - in 
six months to move to Eugene and become a part of Oakleigh. We’re bringing our 
two kids, and most tellingly, we’re bringing me - I have a chronic illness that 
flares during periods of stress and anxiety, incapacitating me and making my 
life very difficult. If the situation with Oakleigh was as you described, I can 
assure you, we wouldn’t be joining. Thankfully, it’s nothing like how you 
characterize it. 

When we visited Eugene, met the community, and saw the land and surrounding 
neighborhood, what we found was a group of friendly, kind, and good-humored 
people who are committed to making their dream of a cohousing community come to 
life, in a beautiful part of the city. Their hope and optimism through the 
difficult path of trying to work things out with the neighbors, was actually 
very inspiring to us, because they did everything right in a situation that 
could have been handled very differently by less patient people. This solid 
example of the good character at the core of the group, who themselves had been 
under a lot of stress, made us feel very emotionally safe here, and we 
immediately felt great affection for everyone. We barely even had to discuss 
whether we wanted to join. It was an immediate, “Yes!”  

We also aren’t worried because - surprise - in our old cohousing, the neighbors 
were unhappy as well. And nothing came of it. As Katie says, cohousers are 
great neighbors, and neighbor opposition doesn’t lead to long-term resentment. 
That’s exactly what we lived, and why we aren’t concerned here. You also have 
to consider the context of Eugene itself. Activism is practically a civic 
value. It’s a good thing, it means that people here care about issues and will 
speak up for them. At the same time, we can see how the things the neighbors 
fear, aren’t going to happen, and they will eventually see that. Once 
construction settles and we all move in, that will become apparent.   

- Hollie
Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing

> On Aug 6, 2018, at 11:34 AM, T G <triciamill9 [at]> wrote:
> I guess the bottom line is that this sounds like a very horrible toxic
> environment for all that seems to offer no amicable solution. Not a place I
> would want to live out my retirement. I hope to find a community that is
> living in peace with its surroundings. Very bad energy surrounding this
> whole situation.
> Good to know before buying in.
>> Message: 1
>> Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2018 15:00:51 -0700
>> From: Lynn Dixon <ld61069 [at]>
>> To: cohousing-l [at]
>> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Eugene Cohousing
>> Message-ID:
>>        <CAN1bcJgHUA2oVXyqVzogrCg3QZad_XjU8dBU7KUwnH7bhYUWGQ@mail.
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
>> in response to :
>> T G triciamill9 [at] via
>> <>
>> Aug 1 (3 days ago)
>> to cohousing-l
>> Katie,
>> Maybe you could explain some of the things that the Eugene cohousing group
>> did to try and work with the neighbors, types of compromise that were
>> offered that they were unwilling to accept? This could be beneficial to
>> other groups facing this type of opposition. Maybe others could talk about
>> things they did to address the concerns of the existing neighbors when they
>> built their co housing communities.
>> I do think it is important that groups moving into an already established
>> neighborhood need to respect the concerns of the established neighbors. It
>> is a bit self centered to not think you will need to work together with
>> people that will be your future neighbors, people you will see on a daily
>> basis. Ideally it would be great to be in a situation where they can become
>> a part of your community.
>> TG,
>> Before there was any opposition, we made decisions with neighbors in mind
>> regarding backyards facing the lane needing to be "front yard" &
>> neighborly, landscape screening, etc. After there was opposition, we had
>> two meetings:  one "mediated" dialogue, which quickly moved away from
>> dialogue and into name-calling and threats without mediator intervention;
>> and what was supposed to be a "fish-bowl" conversation, which got set-up as
>> a panel instead, that again became a session of blame and threats, rather
>> than a modeled conversation (the purpose of a "fish-bowl"). After those
>> attempts, we met with local multi-family builders/architects to explore
>> making it smaller without pricing out members, and were told (again) that
>> it wasn't possible. After that, conversations with neighbors who opposed
>> the project happened one-on-one, with a variety of different outcomes.
>> One of the concerns in our situation was that there is no emergency vehicle
>> turn-around on the street and we have provided that which is beneficial to
>> those living on the street now. + for everyone.
>> The issue around widening of the street is a conundrum. Most people on the
>> street currently do not want to give up front yard to widening of the
>> street and/or sidewalks. When that topic has come up in the legal process,
>> I am caught between wanting that to happen so those who feel that would
>> make it safer would be pleased, and not wanting it to happen because those
>> who want to retain their yards and see no need for curbs would be pleased;
>> and also knowing that once a road is widened and with sidewalks, drivers
>> tend to be less mindful of potential dangers than when it is a more narrow
>> road. Conundrum.
>> Honestly, there is no way to win here. Members of OMC are in no way people
>> who have no care for others, and ?refuse to negotiate?. Conversations we
>> have had with individuals or groups throughout this process have made it
>> very clear that there is not complete agreement about solutions that would
>> be acceptable to those in opposition. Agreeing to one thing for one person,
>> makes another upset. So there is always a moving target for a definition of
>> what?s reasonable. And it does feel like hypocrisy- we do training in NVC
>> and we strive in building and sustaining relationships in community, and
>> yet we are stuck when it comes to the very neighbors who will live closest
>> by. Watching arguments come through in legal docs for things that we know
>> some neighbors don?t want feels like their goal is just shutting the whole
>> project down, rather than finding a solution to making it work for all. So
>> we contemplate solutions for after the build - shared cars and carpooling,
>> volunteer pool for crossing guard and street monitoring at school traffic
>> times, off-site parking away from Oakleigh, and on and on. No one wants to
>> talk about those things now, but perhaps those conversations and shared
>> ideas can grow into something that feels beneficial to everyone.
>> Lynn
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