Re: Average Turn Over
From: katie-henry (
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2008 10:42:11 -0700 (PDT)
Very interesting message from Liz (below). At EVC, shortly after move-in, when 
most of the original members were still in residence, it was very hard for new 
members to break in. I wouldn't call it cliqueishness (is that a word?). But 
the relationships and social networks were already in place, and the community 
did a terrible job of new member orientation. Some members from that time moved 
in with good intentions, but gave up and became completely disengaged out of 

Now that there is steady, regular turnover, it's easy for new members to find 
the other new members, who help them get up to speed and involved. Many of 
EVC's social activities are arranged by new members, I think largely as a way 
to get other new members involved. This pattern really makes sense to me in 
light of Liz's observations about unstable vs. stable churches.

There are indeed drawbacks to a high level of turnover. There's a lack of 
historical memory about decisions made during development. In a community of 
this size (56 units), you won't necessarily know all of your neighbors. The 
lack of long-term commitment makes it hard to find people to take on the big 
important jobs (budget/finance, building management) that require a big 
learning curve and experience. But I wouldn't say that having regular turn-over 
is a bad thing at all. It all depends on the reason. If people are fleeing the 
community, then yes, there's a problem.

Eastern Village
Silver Spring, MD


Re: Average Turn Over
From: Elizabeth Magill ( 
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 12:36:20 -0700 (PDT) 

This, plus an early comment that communicated to me, at least, that I shouldn't 
be interested in cohousing, because I'm not inclined to commit to living in one 
place for the rest of my life, brings up a question that I have.

Is stability actually critical to a sense of community?
I can see the possibility that six week rentals would limit our abilities to 
get to know each other. But is the only other healthy community option for us 
all to stay forever?

I haven't lived in cohousing yet (I move in sometime between Oct 1 and Nov 
But I spend a lot of time working on issues of community.. at work, in 
religious institutions, and in many other places along the way.

Some things I notice:
I live in a neighborhood with little or no turnover... certainly no more than 1 
unit per year out of some 60 condos. And I know 3 households, total... not even 
the name of all the others.

Christian Churches that are primarily centered around immigrant populations 
create a strong sense of community very quickly, and become a support system 
and fictive family in a few weeks time. The population is extremely unstable... 
that is, people move in and out constantly.

Congregations that have had stable numbers for many years... say no new members 
in the last five years, often have great stability, great community, and a 
complete inability to see anyone outside the in- group, or even to be more than 
polite to a newcomer. So, while they've created community, they aren't, in my 
book, a very healthy community.

So I feel a presumption that stability of membership is a very important goal. 
But I'm not sure whether it is a valid presumption, in and of itself.

My very best "live in community" experience was in graduate school, where 1/3 
of the population left every year, and a different 1/3 arrived.

But, as I said, I haven't lived in co-housing yet. Tell me more about what turn 
over discussions are meant to imply, and why low turn-over is important.
And, I suppose, what my baby community should be doing to attend to this as we 
get ready to move in!
(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
PastorLiz [at]
Mosaic Commons, part of Sawyerhill EcoVillage in Berlin MA
where we have market rate, and affordable units still available.
Won't you join us?

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