Re: Where to start in developing a community
From: Ron Ingram (
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2020 06:08:11 -0700 (PDT)
So much goodness and resources packed into this email!

Right now my efforts have been word of mouth but writing them down and
formulating a plan with an organized group is the next step. I have enough
engagement with people and the current social climate has made it ripe for
a more formal organization. Will keep you posted as we traverse this next

Very good historical reference Sharon, thanks for your support,!

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 3:54 PM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> > On Jun 4, 2020, at 2:36 PM, Ron Ingram <ingramr88 [at]> wrote:
> > All I need is a building and some instructions. If I have to be the only
> > one nailing and hammering and planting flowers in yards then so be it. I
> > know others will come. I know others who might be willing to join me if
> > they knew that helping to renovate and rehabit a home for someone else
> > meant that others would do the same for them
> There are flyers and other information on the website to
> help newly forming groups.
> What often happens is that you choose a temporary name — easier to do
> publicity with a name. Develop a description of what you are trying to
> develop. A key will be sticking to the low cost requirement. I’m a firm
> believer, based on experience, that price has to be a clear boundary. Don’t
> be seduced by people who really want middle class housing and are romantic
> about subsidizing you. Dependence on those with more resources whether it
> is the government or wealthier people doesn’t bring long-term independence.
> Make a few flyers — they don’t have to be on large paper. Print 4 on one
> page. And post them around the area in which you think there are people who
> might be interested — it may not be the same area where you can find
> property but you have to start somewhere.  The kinds of organizations I
> know of that have responded were coops, Unitarian Churches, home-schoolers.
> Others on the list will know more.
> Start an email list or use the Sustainable Cohousing list for contacts and
> discussion. Linking to a larger list of people with the same goals — low
> cost housing — gives you more support and more information.
> The advantage of setting up a means of contact is that it becomes a link
> between people. Since this is housing, it needs to be done with boots on
> the ground. While people from other locations might move to the project and
> support it from a distance, you need people to begin forming a community
> from day one. This will bring you support and information and links.
> Look for links. Every person will know someone. Once you have a concept of
> what you want to do, network. Talk to people in housing agencies to get
> information. They will know what is happening where and who to contact. It
> will be a number of seemingly unfruitful conversations but it will give you
> practice presenting your project.
> Get in touch with other cohousing groups in the area. They know people.
> And can mentor you with knowledge of local resources.
> I worked with a group for many years that tried to save a 1923 theater
> next to our community in DC. The most helpful person we found was someone
> who had started a cooperative non-profit neighborhood ceramics studio. They
> sent us to the vice president of a bank who specialized in non-profit
> development. We needed 2 million dollars, at least. He gave us leads and
> financial options because he know what a lot of other non-profit and
> historic preservation groups had done. The best lead was to a commercial
> real estate broker who had been in business forever and knew everyone. He
> led us to a lawyer with a major law firm (major as in major across the
> country) who worked with us pro bono for 5-6 years. One person led to
> another. They led us to an architect who specialized in historic
> renovations. From there to non-profit historic theater organization that
> gave us all kinds of leads. In a few months we had a professional team of
> advisors that gave us credibility.
> We didn’t get the theater because the owner refused to sell no matter what
> we did, but it is a good lesson in how to build credibility. Most
> importantly it got us connections with people that other city agencies and
> financial institutions knew and trusted. We had credible support when none
> of us had any resources at all, although one person had deep experience
> with historic renovation legislation.
> Research options. What kinds of cohousing projects now exist? How does the
> adult dorm concept work? Start with the seemingly most doable. Getting
> started is the hardest part (except for all the other parts).
> Sharon
> ———
> Sharon Villines
> sustainablecohousing [at]
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> sustainablecohousing+subscribe [at]
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