Re: Mini co-housing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 10:40:30 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 27, 2009, at 9:50 AM, Alex Kent wrote:

The biggest challenge is going to be finding the right people.  We've
started by putting up flyers in local food coops, coffee shops, the library,
etc.  But we're going to need to get the word out more broadly.

I would relax a bit on the "right" people. I have no research on this except age. Maybe I have it but hadn't measured it. At any rate, I have some suggestions:

1. Look for people who share a vision, but make it a practical down to earth vision -- not (too) utopian. You don't want to be in the position of feeling as if you have failed because you didn't achieve a vision when in fact you are very happy not having achieved it.

Expect things to change. Things you thought were essential become less so as other things become more essential. You want to feel comfortable with people but beyond that you can't know unless you have done this before. They won't either.

Are you comfortable with them in your home and you in theirs? Do your children play well together?

Jump in and plan the venture while actually looking at properties. This will give you more information than abstract thought about who the right people might be.

2. Go in with commitment but have an exit strategy. How does this union dissolve? Who decides? How much notice needs to be given?

There was once a phase of couple's therapy when the first step for a couple facing divorce was not to try to reconcile them but to make a plan for how they would divorce and what their new lives would actually look like. That reality and confronting it was the best way to emphasize what was really important in the union.

Or sometimes it facilitated a more comfortable, well-planned, and supportive parting of the ways than the couple would otherwise have had.

This will also allow you to be comfortable in getting to know "prospects" because you will know how you are going to say, no I don't think this will work.

3. Don't try to test a potential partners with fake getting to know you exercises, unless you expect them to be part of your living experience. The experience of getting together has to be as real as living together.

In the early 1970s, the first time I started talking with members of a Unitarian Church about group living, we decided it would be good to begin by taking vacations together -- camping or renting a house at the beach.

A friend who was also a Unitarian and a psychiatrist said that was the worst thing we could do. Daily living is not like a vacation. Vacations are not real and going on one is not always the dream we think they will be. As a test for daily living they fail whether they are good or bad.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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