Re: Businesses inside cohousing or nearby or....
From: Mmariner (
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 1996 23:38:23 -0500
Rob S makes some solid points based on the current coho paradigm.  Rob, were
you assuming that the business would be space intensive like light mfg or a
 service company or a retail shop of some sort?  Therefore the assumption is
that a fairly major structure would be built on the grounds?  If so, I'd
agree costs and hassles would seem prohibitive and undesireable, especially
if the enterprise were being started up simultaneously with financing and
building the housing. (See more ideas below.)

Joani, could you clarify what you meant -- that you value diversity so you
wouldn't want onsite businesses?  Meaning that the community could/would
become too insular to where you didn't relate to diverse folks outside the
community?  If so, I'm not advocating that every coho member be part of the
business or that there be only one business.  Also, if you had a business
that found it's clientele in adjacent neighborhoods it could serve to show
off coho to the neighbors -- hopefully diverse at least in income level, age,
sub-culture, whatever.

You (Rob & Joani) asserted most cohousers just aren't interested in combining
home and business together unless they already office in their home or do
child care or something similar.  Can we hear from some other folks?  Do
y'all love commuting - the couple of hours in car or bus and obviously the
pollution and energy consumption?

Let's twist,  warp or crack the paradigm a little.  

[Note, I tend to think cutting edge -- afterall, I'm writing futuristic
books.  Yet I can readily see that attempting a collaborative business might
best be considered a few years after you're moved into the residences.   The
coho process is so time and money intensive.  But let's seed the future....]

-  First,  break the  precept that most coho groups must build new structures
on virgin land.  I admire the adventurous folks like those (in Arcata, CA?)
who were building their cohousing behind an old truck stop  They renovated
part of the commercial buildings into offices or shops and built housing
behind them for quieter housing, right?

- How about a coho site in an existing mixed-use urban site where business
structures were already intermixed with residential or where residential
units were built above the business?  The facilities issues could be
lessened.   Perhaps existing businesses could be brought into the coho plans
in some small (or large) degree.

-  How about businesses that don't require major contiguous facility space?
 Several professionals with related businesses might form alliances of
various sorts -- market together, network, etc?  Down the road start new
joint ventures, partnerships, etc., as the opportunities arise?  Everybody
starts with offices in their homes, knowing each other's email addresses, fax
and phone numbers.  Everybody has 3-way calling where you can cut in a 3rd
party to any conversation.  Maybe you arrange to use a room in the common
house as the business conference room for some hours per week.  You could
present a unifed image to the outside world with the right planning.

-  Example:  an internet provider (server on site or off) and a web site
designer host all of the home businesses (hobbies, clubs, etc.) on their web

-  How about businesses that make better use of commonhouse facilities that
might just be vacant during  days (or nights)?  A mini-retreat or conference
business.  Some coho sites sell meals to outsiders, right?

There are  miriad possibilities -- not just black/white:  huge, all
encompassing enterprises or no business at all.

I haven't been active on coho-L for a few months.  Oldtimers know I'm one of
those pushy people who obsesses about sustainability --  concluding that the
American lifestyle is currently *wildly* unsustainable.  Cohousing is a good
step in the sustainable direction, but only a step.

Suggestion:  those living in coho already with a passion for business (or
against commuting), how about starting a study group to look into
possibilities.  Let us know what evolves.

Anybody else got stories of existing businesses?  Any other ideas about how
to meld working life into cohousing life?  Go for it...  (I love debating
with Rob & Joani and others, but won't have much time in the next couple
months.  Aren't you glad!)

Mike M

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