Differences in Lifestyle
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2020 11:39:18 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 22, 2020, at 12:33 PM, Magali Gutierrez via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at] cohousing.org> wrote:
> 
> Re:Affordable Housing, and Sharon's comment.
> I want to chime in on Sharon's comment on how comfortable the stretch can be 
> between people of different backgrounds.I would like to learn more about that 
> gap.  I work in a multicultural, multi-language environment, but everyone 
> went to college and keeps up with world affairs. Its New York City. How is 
> that gap breached?  I am in the first stages of thinking of initiating a 
> senior cohousing community, and I have no idea how I would approach and make 
> feel welcome people from all walks of life. Any thoughts?

I suggest a different approach — allow everyone to make themselves comfortable. 
Don’t take it on as your task beyond being welcoming and helpful as a host 
would be.

The first thing I do when I want to learn about something is to do research. I 
read stuff. Researching this topic is very hard — for an odd reason. Google and 
other kinds of searches find sources that focus on fixing it. Fix class. Fix 
lifestyle. Fix income. How to compromise. How to resolve conflict. 

What is there that needs fixing? 

Some consider cohousing to be a lesson in living, in self-growth. Well, life is 
a lesson in living and self growth. If we want more, what do we want? Do we 
want to live in a lab? Or a gym? Group therapy? Are we in cohousing to fix 
ourselves?

The problem in cohousing is not that cohousers are intolerant of diversity—but 
diverse what? How would the community be different with more diversity? How do 
we define diverse beyond skin color. Race, ethnicity, age, ability, language, 
nationality, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. "A 
community is diverse if a wide variety of groups are represented."

Perhaps the best way to look at this is in our own lives. How diverse are the 
people we have lunch with? Dinner? Walking dogs? In religiosity? Going to 
baseball games? To clubs? NASCAR anyone? 

Does anyone think about planning their week around finding people who are 
different from themselves to spend time with? Inviting them to dinner at home 
to meet our neighbors. No, probably not. That isn’t how we meet people. We meet 
people because they are in our workplace, or in a food court. Exercise class. 
Somewhere that we have something in common. We both think the Avocado Acre is a 
rip off and charges high prices because it says it is organic. Or neither of us 
can do 50 jumping jacks and everyone else can do 100. It’s a spark of something 
in common. But it isn’t a spark that leads to 24/7 living together.

Wanting cohousing to be as diverse as possible is reasonable. But how diverse 
is possible? I just don’t think people want to stretch that far at home. At 
home, they want to be at home. Over time communities grow more alike. To do 
anything else would be artificial. I think the best we can do is to be open to 
opportunities and be sure we aren’t acting on negative — or positive — 
preconceptions. That make everyone feel uncomfortable.

Sharon
----
Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"Let us make a special effort to stop communicating, so we can have some 
conversation." Judith Martin

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