Re: Shifting Coho Norms?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2021 11:35:17 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 1, 2021, at 1:19 PM, Zev Paiss <zevpaiss [at]> wrote:

> some of the assumptions I have been operating under around the expectations 
> and motivations of some of our more recent community members, are quite 
> different than what we all had when our process began almost 25 years ago. A 
> request of a neighbor that may have very well been 100% acceptable early on 
> is sometimes perceived as invasive or crossing a line between neighbors.
> Have any of you longer time cohousers experienced anything similar?

Definitely. I wrote a post on this a few months ago and identified one 
difference — those of us who moved into cohousing in the 1980s and 1990s, early 
2000s, were most likely coming off experiences or fantasies about truly 
egalitarian, self managed, totally energy efficient, all inclusive communities, 
often of activists. The people moving in now are not coming from that 
experience. They were not around in the 1960s or 1970s so they aren’t even 
working off their parents' memories.

Example: When we moved in our developer was cooperating in a DC grants program 
for first time homebuyers in DC. It was a very generous program but required 
that our applications all be submitted together through one bank 
representative. After weeks of reminders, one person had still not done hers. I 
was astounded that we were delaying submission again and objected. We had said 
this was the last week. The facilitator said, “Yes, but we aren’t all there 
yet.” It was a lesson for me in what cohousing was all about.

~15 years later I recounted this story to a member who had moved in a few years 
before. I said, “I’m not sure new people feel that way now.” The person 
immediately responded, “Oh no. No. Not at all.” She was a lovely person and a 
hard worker. Very involved in the community. But the same ideals were not 

Recently a founding member had a conversation with a new parent about the 
importance of children knowing other adults and how many children here had 
their own relationships with people of all ages. Child care was seen, if not 
literally as it takes a village to raise a child, as at least an ideal that 
children would be comfortable with other adults and everyone was watching out 
for them.

The young mother was surprised. It had never occurred to her that her child 
could, would, or should have relationships with other adults.

When I mentioned this to a now college student who was born and grew up here, 
her immediate response was, “But how are they going to learn how to relate to 
adults. I had to, they were all over the place. That’s what you learn in 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

  • Shifting Coho Norms? Zev Paiss, September 1 2021
    • Re: Shifting Coho Norms? Sharon Villines, September 2 2021

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