Re: Was the reality of cohousing different than your dream?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 2020 15:17:50 -0700 (PDT)
> If you were part of the forming stage of your community, when you
> actually did finally move in was there a difference in your
> anticipation of what you thought it would be like and the reality of
> what actually living in cohousing is like? Better/worse/different?

When I think about this question, what comes up is "what I was surprised 
about." Maybe this is the same thing. If I hadn’t had expectations, I wouldn’t 
have been surprised.

I had been involved with 3 forming groups and reading Cohousing-L for years 
before I moved into cohousing. So I think what I got was what I expected. And 
what I was frustrated with I knew I would be — workshare, or lack thereof.

But I was surprised that in a community that wanted to build something new and 
better there were many people who had little or no  interest in actually 
participating in governance — teams, meetings, etc. — or had any theories about 
how to do it better or efficiently.

I was surprised that in the group I moved into, Takoma Village, had not 
required anyone to read about cohousing and how many people knew nothing. They 
joined because they liked the idea. Another group I  had participated in 
required interested people to read at least one book on cohousing and had 
copies to borrow.

Ann Zabaldo was the beginning organizer at Takoma Village so what prospective 
members had been told was accurate and she is a big believer, so they were 
convinced about the whole building process. But since they had read nothing nor 
participated in Cohousing-L, many knew nothing about daily operations or the 
dimensions of decisions they would have to make about “our” property. Basically 
we assumed responsibility for maintaining and managing a $7.5 million 
residential complex of 43 condo units and all its storm sewers, etc. Stuff many 
of us didn’t know existed.

I was surprised that people had such strong and divergent assumptions about the 
purpose of the CH. One view was that it was an income source to support the 
community. Another that it was a social action community center where groups 
would meet, hang out, pick up literature, etc. Sort of an adult student union 
for lefties. Some thought everyone who used the CH would be paid fees. No one 
would use it free.

I think this was a surprise because I wondered how the group had gotten to 
move-in without having discussed this. Or why it hadn’t come up. 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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