The myth of diversity
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 11:32:52 -0500
Is diversity a reality in community, or is it a myth? Based on my
observations of the communitarian world, there is a great deal of
diversity between communities, very little within.  If you want to
experience diversity go to almost any intercity neighborhood and you
will find diversity by the truckload.  The very act of creating an
intentional community filters out diversity in a number of ways. 1. It
filters out people who don't want to live in community, 2. it filters
out people who are bad communicators, 3. it filters out people who use
violence to resolve disputes, ...the list goes on and on.  So the very
act of creating cohousing removes diversity, and deep down, this what
people want.  

People want community enough to become land developers. They could have
community where they live now, but its too diverse so it doesn't happen.
Try holding a community dinner in a regular neighborhood.  Maybe
everyone on the block will show up, more likely 2-3 people will.  In
creating a community you are filtering out all the folks that don't have
the interest, motavation or money, or tolerance of others, or (fill in
the blank).  By filtering out those people, you limit your diversity
scale very substantially. 

 So in my opinion, diversity in community is a myth.  You can proudly
point to your (pick a representative minority) and say, Hey, we're
diverse, but on the inside, you are all alike. And you know what? It HAS
to be this way. 30 years of experience with deliberate intentional
communities in the US suggests that communities that do not have a
binding glue, a vision, don't last.  Cohousing developments that do not
have a fairly strong group commitment to cooperative process, have a
likelihood of evolving into  standard condos, the commonhouse will get
used for Christmas parties and an excercise room and the folks who live
their will drift off into anonmity just like every other condo. The
sustainability of cohousing is a real good question to look at over the
next decade as the founders move out and are replaced by people who have
a different relationship to the place. 

If diversity includes people who don't care about your community, don't
want to participate, just want to live their lives by themselves without
all these encumbering relationships with the neighbors, then what
happens to the community? It becomes maintained by a smaller and smaller
circle of people.  Several examples of exisiting communities that have
gone to that pattern suggest that eventually the community justs

So my opinion is that you want selective diversity, filtered by your
visions and principals as a group. And if your vision and principals
exclude folks, that is not only a good thing, it is absolutely necessary
for the sustainability of the community.

Rob Sandelin

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