Re: Values of Cohousers
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 09:47:32 -0600 (MDT)
Diane Cano,  Ganas   DHCano [at]
is the author of the message below but due to a problem it was posted
by the Fred the list manager:  fholson@cohousing org

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In a message dated 9/22/99 1:07:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
victoria [at] writes:

<< when I was young I was part of an extremely radical
 community where despite non-middle class values plenty of power was wielded
 in unpleasant ways.  There are reasons that people have evolved values
 towards indendence from communities and families besides being greedy
 and competitive.   >>

Yes, indeed there are.  

I live in an intentional community where there are various levels of
participation, ranging from income- and property-sharing to almost boarder
status.  Income-sharers have a pool of vehicles which they use; non-income
sharers can't drive the vehicles but get use from them in the form of
rides, a s well as from the fact that all the shopping and transport that
a community depends on take place through that vehicle pool.  There is
also a history of some car-sharing among others here and in fact I am in a
car-sharing arrangement with another resident, one which works very well. 
I value the opportunity to live in community and to participate in
arrangements like the one I have with my car-partner.

However, I also know that *for me* part of the reason that my life in
community works so well is that I work outside the community -- and so am
not dependent on it for income or for all my human connections.  To say
that this makes me economically (or otherwise) independent of it would be
an exaggeration, since its *support* (as an inexpensive way to live
comfortably and safely with interesting and pleasant people) is part of
why I can make a satisfactory living working part-time as an
organizational consultant.  In fact, I think the single most important
thing about the community I live in is its ability to create an
alternative socio-economic model in which different levels of
participation are available and which has *succeeded* for twenty years! 
Everybody should have such an option! 

So in a way I am partially economically dependent on my community.  But I
need and treasure the level of independence which I maintain, even though
I have no special experiences to make me counter-dependent other than our
broadly shared culture and history.  And I believe there are many people
whose ability to live happily in community (or anyplace else) depends on
being able to maintain a certain level of mental, economic and social

Yes, valuing individuality and autonomy is a middle-class trait.  And like
most people who participated in the changes which took place in the 60's,
it took me a long time to realize that not everything we can label as
middle-class is without value! 

Community and individual autonomy exist along a spectrum.  It's wonderful
that today there is such a variety of choices along that spectrum,
including cohousing and all the other kinds of intentional community.  It
is especially wonderful, from my perspective, that I can live in a
community that offers its residents flexibility along a spectrum from much
more 'one-ness' than would be comfortable for me to at least a couple of
residents who are never seen at shared meals or community events. 

Diane Cano

  • Values of Cohousers Victoria, September 22 1999
    • Re: Values of Cohousers Fred H. Olson, September 23 1999

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