Re: fences - immediate concern
From: Berrins (
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 07:39:54 -0700 (MST)
    Aside from the need to keep dogs and toddlers in the yard, fences, as 
noted earlier, have many purposes.  Defining and protecting space (and not 
just as in "mine" vs. "yours") is a big one.  We have a four foot high picket 
fence between our present driveway and the back yard, to keep the neighbor's 
cars off the lawn; it's open at both ends.  Short fences set off the garden 
from the yard and help keep rolling soccer balls off the garden and flower 
beds.  I haven't seen any objections to this type of functional fencing in 
this thread so far.
    At Pathways, we'll need, unfortunately, to erect a fairly high perimeter 
fence around our community garden to keep out the critters (I imagine this 
will start a new thread!).  We may put up a short fence between the parking 
lot and the back yards of the houses near it to keep out headlight glare 
(berms would be too wide as there isn't a lot of back yard for those houses).

    As for privacy, I vaguely remember from intro sociology (taken well over 
20 years ago) that most societies, if not all, had ways of striking a balance 
between personal and public space.  Fences are one simple way to protect 
personal space.   The back yards of a few Pathways houses will be highly 
exposed to a lot of foot traffic and I, for one, will have no objection if 
they want to fence in their back yards. I've always expected they will, 
although one family, for now, doesn't think so.
    Nude sun bathing aside, we all need to be able to sit alone, with our 
backyard naps or thoughts, without interruptions.  Plus, we all have 
differing levels of clutter tolerance.  One family noted that they didn't 
want to feel like pariahs if they didn't pick up their kid's toys every day.

    I imagine all this sounds like we will have a gated community, not just 
from the outside world, but from each other.  Nah.  Several people intend to 
share their backyards (I think we will with our duplex neighbors) and many 
others don't want fences at all.  We will always have the large common and 
the small areas in the middle of the three sections (dubbed "pods" and "pod 
commons"), as well as the remaining over 30 acres of woods and wetlands.  We 
are, after all, moving into community to share our lives.  I think fences, 
paradoxically, will help.

    This brings up a slightly bigger privacy issue.  We are imagining that 
one of the nicest advantages of cohousing is the easy ability to drop-in on 
others.  However, some folks may want to discourage drop-ins at differing 
times during the day.  For example, several folks will have home offices and 
will need to be able to work without distractions (like the photographer in 
his dark room).  Is this an issue at existing communities, and how do you 
deal with it?

        -Roger (movin' soon) Berman
          Pathways Cohousing

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