Re: Disallusioned with cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 06:06:57 -0700 (PDT)
On Jun 27, 2006, at 4:08 AM, Fred H Olson wrote:

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 Chris is making good points and I certainly agree with his concerns. Cohousing is an oxymoron. We want the accepting intimacy of intentional communities and the privacy of a single family free-range home and the diversity of a multi-cultural world.

We want the come-all no-barriers admissions policy to produce a homogeneous community that comes to consensus on all issues in two meetings (or less).

We want to maintain what is, in our case, at least a $21 million real estate project with 43 homes in 4 hours a week but that 4 hours also includes all meetings, all meals, and anything else that might be in the best interests of the community, in anyone's opinion. Everyone decides what work is. And when they decide, they can also decide that its optional and certainly excludes anyone who has birthed or adopted a child or has health challenges of any kind or is just busy or traveling.

We want new parents (biological and adopted) to be able to take at least a year off from all community obligations and we want as many children as possible.

We want aging in place (senior cohousing anyone?) and who is going to care for them? Not parents. Not other aging in placers. Not people working and going to school at night. Not people who have their own aging parents far away so they have to travel frequently. Not those in their tween years who want to take month long excursions around the world at least twice a year because this is their chance.

And we want to resolve all these contradictions in no more than one two-hour meeting a month -- no meetings in December or August, thank you very much. That's 20 hours _ a year_. And since these two hour meetings include 5-10 minute breaks and announcements -- you do the math.

Anyone who thinks cohousing is an easier way to live is asleep at the wheel.

But I also can't imagine living any other way now that I live in cohousing. Would I move in if I were looking from outside, probably not.

I just remind myself—often—that just like there are no perfect men, no perfect jobs, no perfect apartments, there are no perfect communities.

But maybe I just need the 24-hour struggle to find a way to make it work.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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