Re: Community Contacts
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2021 19:36:31 -0700 (PDT)
Hello Chris and all —

Good points about the effort it takes to maintain an outreach program for 
cohousing communities.

Our system for handling education and outreach efforts at Takoma Village in 
Washington, DC may or may not qualify as “elegant” but it sure is well thought 
out!  The outreach and educational aspects of living in cohousing fall to our 
Resale and Rental Pod (team) as part of our larger Resale efforts.

1.      We have 4 people on the R&R team.  One person handles the email 
requests for information, tours, interviews (college thesis or senior projects 
usually).  Another handles all the phone requests.  One person coordinates the 
4 Tours per year.  And, one person coordinates all of the above.  If one person 
is unable to fill a request they reach out to others on the team.  Having 
multiple people on a team reduces work for everyone.

2.      We have 4 tours per year. We have a “script" so we don’t need to 
recreate the event every time. All requests by local people for tours are 
funneled to the 4 tour dates.  If we get a request from someone living out of 
town, it’s dependent on finding someone to give them the tour. We first look to 
one of the R&R team to give the tour.  After that we have 1 or 2 other folks we 
can tap.  Sometimes we cannot accommodate their requests.  The Tours, BTW, form 
the basis for our prospect list that we manage and use to inform people of 
sales or rentals.  We keep that list tidy.

3.      If people say they just want to drop by … I ask them not to do that.  

4.      If people REALLY want to get to know us, we suggest attending a 
membership or team meeting, coming to a social event and, if possible, 
attending a work day.  Since we’re not doing meals or other social events right 
now we urge people to come to a work day (vaccination required, safely 
distanced outdoors, all other Covid protocols, etc.)

5.      Lookie Lous … when people just want to talk to me about TVC and 
cohousing … I refer them to our website.  I suggest they plan on attending one 
of the tours.  

Yes.  Education and outreach in cohousing is a big task along w/ all the other 
big tasks people are doing for the community.  No kidding it’s HARD.  If a 
community is unable to provide any outreach services such as tours then be 
straight about it on your website:  We are unable to accommodate visitors or 
provide overnight accommodations at this time. We are also unable to answer 
phone calls or email requests.

Now, having said that … boy o boy … Thank you to all the cohousing communities 
that opened their doors to us when we were in development.  There were very few 
built communities when TVC got underway so the few built communities took the 
brunt of folks looking to create cohousing.  We visited communities in MA and 
NC.  And thank you to the people who, while getting their own communities 
operating, also took the time to create the conferences and workshops we 
attended in those early years and continue to do so now as well.  We owe a 
karmic debt to you.  The best way to pay that debt is to pay it forward to the 
next generation.

Back in 2015 I wrote an email to this list about the etiquette of visiting 
cohousing communities and the etiquette for cohousing communities to state 
their availability.  You can download this document:   It’s the 4th one down 
in the list of Top 10 Lists. 

Some of this also comes down to how work is shared among the community members. 
 I think we had another thread on this … 

Best —

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Ex. Dir. & Mbr. Board of Directors
Mid Atlantic Cohousing
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church, VA
zabaldo [at]

Just once, I want a username and password prompt to say "close enough”,  I 

NOTE:  I’m switching back to using zabaldo [at]  Many apologies!

> On Sep 7, 2021, at 3:13 PM, Chris Hansen <itschrishansen [at]> 
> wrote:
> I know that our community info person would say Amen to that! She works
> full time, is doing a PhD, and has a family.
> People often just want a conversation, which is understandable, and those
> in the community who are willing workers are pretty stretched with
> Community tasks. (It would be interesting to do a poll of how much work
> people anticipated CoHousing would involve when they arrived, and whether
> it met or exceeded their expectations!)
> Some of us work demanding jobs, some are elderly, some live with
> disability, some have families, some are working their butts off for
> CoHousing- and the normal combo of all/some/none of the above.
> We had open homes before Covid- we've not mastered the art of doing it
> online.
> Some people don't like to do it and it would be great to find folks who
> like it; are good at it,and who have the time!
> And, as Elizabeth so eloquently said, it would be _wonderful_ to understand
> what about CoHousing piques people's interest- so we could tailor our
> response.
> When people write and say 'can I come at 4pm on xx date' it's just not that
> easy to find someone who is able to oblige, because nobody is employed to
> do this job.
> I'd love to know if some communities have elegant modes of managing and
> navigating this. The 'Open House' was a great scheme when it worked.
> On Tue, 7 Sept 2021 at 09:55, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]> 
> wrote:
>> I would like to share the other side of this story.
>> I handle my community's "info" email list. People go to our website which
>> has tabs for all of our community agreements, what is cohousing,
>> descriptions of who lives here, a picture of our site, a tab showing which
>> homes are for sale (none), and more and more.
>> I think we do a really good job of describing our community, to the extent
>> that community can be described in words and pictures.
>> And I get emails every week that are "can you tell me about  your
>> community?" with absolutely no other information as to why they are
>> interested. I'm like---sure, what do you want to know?
>> And then I get long emails, often two pages, that read like they are trying
>> to earn a spot in our community. With no question, or with can I come work
>> for you for awhile, or "do I qualify". Again, I want to ask, did you read
>> the website at all before you hit "contact"?
>> And of course the spam. And people who want to do studies.
>> I reply to everything except the spam (I forward the studies to the
>> community in case someone wants to engage.) Sometimes I miss one.
>> We offer tours (but surely folk could give some idea of when they want to
>> come?) and keep an interest-list for when a home is available for sale.
>> I think it is worth it to keep up this task because a quarter or a fifth of
>> the emails are from people who have thoughtfully shown interest. It is our
>> goal to be open to promoting cohousing and to be welcoming of potential
>> cohousers.
>> And yes, sometimes responses take longer than a week. Sometimes I'm on
>> vacation. Sometimes I've got a busy week at work. Sometimes I just can't
>> read anymore email.
>> But mama mia it's work that takes more time than you would imagine.
>> -Liz
>> (The Rev. Dr.) Elizabeth Mae Magill
>> Pastor, Ashburnham Community Church
>> 508-450-0431
>> On Sat, Sep 4, 2021 at 11:10 AM Jack & Carolyn Salmon <
>> 2salmon [at]>
>> wrote:
>>> I’ve had the same experiences as Ann, when trying to contact some one,
>> any
>>> one at a cohousing community.  You have to be a real sleuth to find
>> someone
>>> to have a conversation with…by phone or on-line.  Even if a community has
>>> an email address or phone number listed in the Cohousing US directory, no
>>> one seems to be monitoring them.
>>> I live at Quimper Village…we do monitor our emails and phone answering
>>> machine AND we try to respond to all calls …well, not the robo-calls from
>>> the guy who designs webpages.    The person who monitors may respond or
>>> passes the message on to the member most likely to have a productive
>>> conversation with the caller.
>>> Let’s keep the conversations going.
>>> Carolyn
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> Chris Hansen
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> Burlington
> Vermont 05401
> Ph 603 3988730
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