Re: site & plans = less interest in associate status?
From: Kristi Barlow (
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 2009 08:35:27 -0700 (PDT)

Thank you for your response Sharon. Reading over my post again, I'm not sure I communicated my query clearly.

No one is making a decision to become a member of our community (i.e. buy a unit) without going through the associate & education process - that is not possible in our project.

What is happening is that people who *are* interested in the community aspects, who would seem to be a great fit philosophically and life- experience-wise, and who could make the financials work if they were motivated to -- those folks are not becoming associates ($350) and getting involved with the group while they weigh their options. Instead, they come to a few meetings, they take home the pretty specific price and design info available, and go home and sit in a "wait-and-see" attitude for some weeks before (usually) concluding that this doesn't make sense for them. Many of them are such a good fit attitude-wise, that it seems a shame they don't become involved in the group as a way of weighing their options. Perhaps they are simply protecting their hearts by keeping a distance, I know a few have said that. Perhaps others see how much work it is and want to "decide" before getting involved in weekly meetings.

Whatever the reasons for individuals - and I'm only guessing at them - the phenomenon is clear: ever since we have had a specific site with specific designs* and costs, people become associates at a much much lower rate than they used to. Our cohousing professionals predicted the opposite: that securing a site and completing designs* would increase by a factor of 10 the number of people interested in our project. So I'm asking this list, what has been other forming communities' experience with having a site and designs, did it increase or decrease the # of associates joining your group?


*we know people love the design of the building, that doesn't seem to be the issue.

Re: site & plans = less interest in associate status? <– Date – > <– Thread –>
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 14:57:18 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 9, 2009, at 6:10 PM, Kristi Barlow wrote:

    People are much less likely to become associates now,
    they tend to hover outside the group for a meeting or two, look at
    plans in person, take the price info home and make their decision
    without ever becoming an associate.

As frustrating as it is, most people relate to space and price first. I know some people who bought apartments here had little concept of what cohousing was all about and did not think they needed to. Others had a strong sense of community aside from cohousing so it was fine.

I don't think our group did enough to insist that people read at least one book. The attitude was that we couldn't require anyone to do anything. They still think that, though we have had good luck with new residents who are on the whole more active than those they replaced.

My suggestion would be to keep in touch with them and send very clear messages that this is a community, not an apartment complex. There are expectations attached that they should understand. And they need to begin getting to know their potential neighbors before they move in.

Say up front that priority will go to those who are involved with the group _and helping_ to make the dream come true. Make it clear that this is not a done deal. It will still take work. If people are put off by work, you won't be able to carry them anyway.

Say it even if it isn't legal. It's the truth so they should know it.

Sharon Villines in Washington DC
Where all roads lead to Casablanca

Message: 1
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 07:47:32 -0400
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Case Study: Cohousing Successes and Failures
To: Cohousing-L Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Message-ID: <3A5BAD81-4795-400C-9369-34CE8AAB30C0 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes

On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 11:28 AM, Mac Thomson
<mac [at]>wrote:

It occurred to me at the conference that a really useful workshop
would have been one which focused on which communities are thriving
and which are struggling or have failed altogether and the factors
that have led to the various results.

I wonder if we could have a discussion of this here. We've touched on
it for beginning groups -- what it takes to make it -- but never for
existing groups.

It was helpful to us to have people who attended the last Boston
conference to bring back stories about other communities our age
having the same problems we have.

Of course, "problems" and "successes" are in the eye of the beholder
unless one is doing a huge statistical research study. All groups are
made up of  individuals, however, so that perspective is important too.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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