Disallusioned with cohousing
From: Fred H Olson (fholsoncohousing.org)
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 01:09:01 -0700 (PDT)
The author of the message below (who I'll call "Chris") consented to have
me post it to cohousing-L after removing identifying information.
Like me, Chris has never lived in cohousing but has been significantly involved
in other ways including as an advocate.  Note that , IMHO, cohousing wanbabees
significantly outnumber cohousing residents.

In a personal message to me Chris expressed disillusionment with
cohousing and doubts about it's workability.

I thanked Chris for the candid comments on how his/her view of cohousing
has evolved. I (Fred) have never lived in cohousing so have no direct
experience but have long said it's not for everyone or even for most

But maybe Chris's comments warrant discussion.

I think that people are generally very reluctant to express negative
opinions to a group of supporters - it's easier to just go away.  But I
think a healthy discussion of problems that are easier to not talk about
is important.

How many people become disillusioned after making a big commitment like
after moving in?

If you would like to post an anonymous reply, send it to me with a
line explaining that you want it posted without identifying you which I
will delete.  Be careful not to reply to the list if that is your choice.

Regular replies are of course welcome but I encourage people to resist
becoming defensive.

I will also forward replies directly to Chris on request tho I encourage
on list replies.

"Chris" (a pseudonym) is the author of the message below.
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at] cohousing.org>
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

During 2004 I was vaguely involved in a cohousing group (basically as an
"advisor" rather than potential resident) but I became disillusioned with
this group's approach and lost motivation. More broadly, I must confess
that I have lost much of my enthusiasm for cohousing as a concept.

More fundamentally, I feel like the level of relationship with neighbors
that cohousing demands, in terms of negotiating practical aspects of life
as well as sharing ideals, is more burdensome than I wish to take on in
the foreseeable future. Perhaps it is my experience working in government,
or with personal relationships... but I feel that human relationships are
fragile things and good ones are hard to maintain. Perhaps the model of
cohousing I was most attracted to is beyond my capacity to achieve in
terms of maintaining good relations with fellow residents. I also feel I
may have over-estimated the ability of the person next door to be
"reasonable" about issues -- I now feel that I was assuming that everyone
approached life with the rational, reasonable approach that I have been,
and I think I have tended to discount the vagaries of human emotions in
the context of cohousing.

Anyway, this is a very long-winded way of saying that I have pulled back
from my interest in cohousing and am engaging with the world
intellectually in other ways.

[ FRED'S NOTE: In a reply to my request to post Chris's comments
  he/she elaborated a bit: ]

These are personal views, and in one sense relate to my own assumptions
about what human relationships "should" be like, in order to allow for a
balance of privacy and community in cohousing. The concept of cohousing
has not changed in the last few years, I have -- I guess the comments stem
from my own appreciation that my expectations of people to be "reasonable"
first and foremost is itself not a "reasonable" expectation. Delicious
irony, perhaps. My new reluctance to dive into cohousing would stem
largely from a reluctance to dive into a situation where there is a whole
swirl of human emotions from a great variety of people, up close and
personal, and my own discomfort with dealing with the both the good and
bad sides of this. This may be exactly what appeals to a different person.
I think cohousing has been a significant part of my own growing up.
Perhaps I came to the idea too young and with too much idealism...

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.