Re: Email for Cohousing
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 18:42:30 -0600 (MDT)
RoseWind here, in Port Townsend WA. 16 of our 20 families have email. 14 
of those with email live on site. And email still serves a VERY important 
function among us. 

All the positives mentioned on this thread so far apply. What can I add?

1) If a communication goes out over email, and applies to the whole 
group, be sure to get paper copies, phone calls, or such to those who do 
not have email. 
(This is for things like announcements of meetings or discussions, call 
for input on proposals, input on matters of common concern, minutes.)

2) Know your colleagues. 
One of our members has explicitly told us that SHE wants face to face 
discussion of any personal issue that involves her, and considers it 
disrespectful to hear about it by email instead. Most of us, on the other 
hand, welcome the opportunity to deal with "loaded" content via email, as 
we can choose when to read it, have our immediate defensive reactions in 
private, and take the time, or rewrites, needed to formulate a thoughtful 
If you don't know these things about each other, ask. It makes an 
interesting sharing circle topic, for one thing, looking at related 
issues like how much individuals do or don't welcome dropping in, phone 
calls, written responses. You realize we are all different, shaped by our 
families, other prior experiences, and temperaments. 
We have no lack of face to face interaction here. But none of us spends 
days sitting around the house. We are out a lot. A tremendous amount of 
communication happens by email which simply wouldn't happen at all, if 
left to the times we are physically together. 
And, frankly, I'd rather deal with issues as an on-line debate most of 
the time, and leave community suppers, for example, free for 
non-stressful conversation, building on our commonalities.

 ( I don't want to see "George" coming, and say to myself, "Oh, no, here 
comes a contentious rant about the common house budget." But if I see an 
email from George on the subject, I can deal with it more evenly.) 

The value of email in the group is great, and is not worth abandoning for 
the sake of a few sensitive areas. Best to find ways to avoid the 
pitfalls, but keep that "baby" in the bathwater. 

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