Re: "Weirdos"
From: Matt Lawrence (
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 13:07:05 -0700 (MST)
On Sat, 12 Feb 2000, Sharon Villines wrote:

> > At our information meetings we are often asked "What if some weirdo wants to
> > join the group"?
> I can't remember who on the list contributed this but the best response I've
> heard to this question is that "weirdos" aren't attracted to cohousing
> because 
> 1) it requires too much personal responsibility and
> 2) the focus on process doesn't allow control by an individual.
> The behaviors people usually consider "weird" are used to avoid personal
> responsibility or to control everyone around them. When they don't work,
> hese  people drift away after a few meetings.

Actually, I've been thinking about this from the other side.  Most of the
cohousing groups I've corresponded with here in North America seem to have
many of the stereotypical middle class, white collar predjudices and
intolerance.  Since I'm a bit non-traditional, this worries me.

1) I'm a computer geek.  I have a routed DSL connection at home with a
5-bit subnet.  I think discussions of the Sapir-Worf hypothesis and how
it applies to computer languages are absolutely facinating.  I have a copy
of the O'Reilly book on Lego Mindstorms on my bookshelf.

2) I want to build airplanes.  I've found that a number of white-collar
types don't want to work with their hands.  For me, a top-notch workshop
is a requirement and I would love to share it with others who restore
antique cars, build furniture, etc.

3) I ride a motorcycle and have been mistaken for a bad-ass biker.

4) I do amateur radio, so an absolute prohibition on external antennas
would be a problem for me.  I'm probably better socialized than many ham
radio operators, but that's not saying much.

5) I'm Pagan.  Groups (not just cohousing groups) that open their meetings
with a very Christian prayer make me uncomfortable.  I don't mind a group
celebrating various religious holidays, I just don't want to have problems
observing my holidays.  I've also run into the problem of people assuming
I'm Christian and getting upset when they discover my beliefs.  I don't
proseletyze and I'm very low-key about it, but I'm probably more religious
than the average American.

6) I'm middle-aged, heterosexual and single with no children.  I'm not
quite sure how I managed to never get married, but it puts me in a very
small class of men and, again, it makes some people uncomfortable when
they try to catagorize me.

7) I serious dislike the current American model of "you live in the
suburbs and drive into the factory in the city to work".  I'm very
interested in a mixed residential/commercial development.  This has rather
horrified some of the cohousing folks I've spoken with.

Well, there are some of my concerns.  They don't apply to all cohousing
groups, but I've run into these problems at least once.

-- Matt

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