Re: Emergency call system?
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2018 12:49:32 -0800 (PST)
We have a bell. It lives in the Common House. We walk around the community
and ring it. It works even when there's no power or phone lines/cell
frequencies are jammed. You don't have to remember any numbers, pay any
fees, or keep any software up to date. We keep in mind who might not hear
it, so we know to knock on a certain door or window, or ring the bell
persistently enough so that a dog will pass along the alert.

We generally ring it for meals and meetings, but we've also marked births
and deaths with it over the course of the past quarter century, and it
could function well in other emergencies. Other than a "shelter in place"
for a refinery toxic fire or leak.

If there's a general public-safety alert called by a government agency, it
will make noises on most of our cell phones, and we know who doesn't have
one or keep it on so we can make sure they are covered.

These days I imagine a group text would serve the same purpose for an
in-community urgent message. That would probably be more useful in Gather
than phone calling, Tom.

Catya, I somehow imagine that at least your neighbor community Camelot, if
not your community, would have a live Slack channel for such things. Isn't
that the hip young thing these days? ;-)

We used to have, long ago, a good old-fashioned phone tree, where everybody
had a designated list of two other people to call - would that serve much
the same function, passing a message almost as fast as a single-ring-to-all

A decade ago we did a group purchase/install of gas-meter automatic
earthquake shutoff valves, so that in the event of a quake, we wouldn't
have to worry as much about fire onsite. We're preparing for a big seismic
project to upgrade our Common House to prevent death or injury in the event
of a major earthquake -- nobody is requiring us to do so, but it just makes
sense to keep our guests and neighbors safe and avoid the even bigger
expense of repairs, even at the cost of a one-time special assessment
running over $10,000 per household (but we're innovating new financial
tools so that members on fixed incomes aren't displaced, and may get a FEMA
grant through the city to help).

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach and Cohousing California regional organizer
Certified Senior Advisor / Certified Living in Place Professional

 Living at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing, where I was delighted to discover two
air-masks in our home's community mailbox yesterday, courtesy of a
cohousing neighbor who was ahead of the curve in preparing for the
hazardous air conditions we have been suffering from for the past week, and
ordered extras. Tonight I'm cooking part of our common meal outdoors so the
person living above the Common House won't have to open windows to air out
cooking smells.

  And wishing safety for Valley Oaks Village, the Chico, California,
cohousing community within two miles of the still-growing Camp Fire. And
rapid resettlement to Formal Consensus author C.T. Butler, who already lost
a home in that blaze (but saved dozens of goats).

On Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 11:21 AM Linda Hobbet <linda [at]> wrote:

> On 11/13/2018 2:06 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L wrote
> > I can’t think of one time that this would have been helpful for us in 18
> years. Perhaps Ann can. So many of us are online 12-18 hours a day. Someone
> is on 24/7. It might have been the first years —2000-2003 before everyone
> had a phone and/or a computer.
> Are you concerned about fast-moving emergencies when it is important
> that everyone is reached as quickly as possible? The fires in California
> could be one example. Tornadoes. Rare, but potentially devastating.
> Linda
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