Re: What communication platforms are used in co-housing post move-in?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2021 08:59:02 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 30, 2021, at 8:19 PM, Sharlene <seconifer [at]> wrote:

> One of our friends lives in a senior independent living neighborhood that
> uses an iPad software to communicate daily with residents. Each morning a
> message is sent that includes information about food, transportation, sign
> ups, special events, calendar etc. It's a slick system.
> Anyone in cohousing use anything like this? Or other well working systems?

I find this to be one of the most important questions in cohousing—do we adopt 
the slick systems that other institutions and workplaces use? What is lost in a 
conformed list—one that follows the just the facts ma’am format? 

What does a slick program that produces a neat list of today’s activities 
communicate? What is its function? What are the connotations? The associations? 
Who benefits? Who does the work of producing it? What is required to produce 
that list? What gets bent if an event is not included? What happens to 
individual initiative when a list makes everything look already organized. 

One of my repeated refrains is that I don’t want to live in an institution. 
Institutions are wonderful but they come with their own agenda. They exist for 
a purpose that is externally defined. An institution is a society or an 
organization founded for a religious, educational, social, or similar purpose. 
It has its own ego. Its own energy force. Its own desires. And anyone who 
interacts with it has to conform. You not only have to connect to its mission 
but you have to fit yourself into its way of speaking or not speaking, dressing 
or not dressing. First you fill out a form.

Is cohousing an institution?

Institutions are necessary in democracies because they support government 
functions. They democracy workable. A wide variety of associations and research 
institutes in the field of health, for example, support and balance the work of 
government supported research and services. When the government goes into free 
fall, the country doesn’t fall apart. It has backups. Many countries have no 
independent institutions of any kind and the burdens on government are 
overwhelming. Democracies fail.

But do I want to live in an institution? 

I used to believe that first the community decides what it wants and then 
someone takes the job or we find a service to do it. That seems reasonable and 
fair and rational. Very efficient and inclusive. But does it work? 

With limited options, what we need is a process that comes naturally to one of 
our community members so they feel fulfilled and energized when they do the 
work. So the first question would be who wants to produce such a list? And how? 
There is a big backend to such lists.

That said, we use CalendarWiz which is an incredibly customizable calendar 
program that will also produce lists of the events. We have a calendar for 
every reservable room, area, or parking space. Every member can make entries 
and include as many details as they wish. I download the calendars to my 
calendar so I always it handy. One person oversees the calendar and makes a 
list each week on a white board in the front hall of the commonhouse and posts 
it by email. Members can access the calendar through our website to check for 
information or to make entries.

While it is hugely wonderful and allows us to do many things, the latest 
request is that we all record on the travel calendar which days we will not be 
at home, where we will be, and who to contact for our keys or about our pets, 
emergency numbers, etc.

Some people use it, some people don’t. The ‘requests’ that we use it have 
increased. I find it a reminder that we no longer know each other well enough 
to know who would have a person’s extra key and who would be taking care of the 
pets and everyone remembered (fairly reliably) to let someone know this 

So the back side of having such lists is that someone has to maintain them so 
you need a personality that is energized by lists and realize that the list 
will replace personal contacts. And some people will want that.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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