Social participation (was How do we hold each other accountable?)
From: Muriel Kranowski (
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 19:41:35 -0700 (PDT)
At 08:07 PM 7/26/2010, Jeanne Goodman wrote:
I'm *almost* at a Zen state about social participation. Is it that
cohousing doesn't match the pre move-in image? Is it that life is
busier than they thought it would be? Is there some unknown wrong that
has turned someone away from the community? Or are these very limited
community contacts exactly what those people had in mind and asking
for more would push them outside of their comfort zone?<snip>


We also have quite different levels of participation in everything that one might participate in by different residents, from work to social life, and I've thought about why that might be and whether it should bother me.

On the social side, here are the major factors I can think of to account for this: 1) More than half of our residents were not among the founding group, and their motivations might not be as intensely communal. 2) Some of our founders have moved away, further diluting the original intensity. 3) People's personal and family and work responsibilities are all still there no matter where they live, all exerting their pulls on time and energy. 4) Subgroups have developed in very natural ways, whose members socialize pretty heavily among themselves whether or not they also engage in a lot of whole-group activities. I think those subgroups are very rewarding for the people in them, but they don't enrich community life as a whole and indeed may undermine it. 5) I think some especially introspective individuals have returned to their former state of needing a lot of alone time even though they enjoy being in the community. 6) Cohousing is somewhat like marriage or an equivalent commitment, with the early high-intensity "in love" phase followed by however many years of being in a long-term relationship, where you need to consciously keep the spark alive and accept that the initial intensity was kind of an unnatural state. We were probably somewhat naive to think the "in love" phase would last forever in our hard-won community.

That leaves the question, should it bother me? Sometimes it does, but when I think about living in cohousing vs living in a standard neighborhood, I feel very fortunate to have so much built-in social life and community life. In addition, cohousing seems to attract people with whom I feel far more simpatico than I ever did with my pre-cohousing neighbors and I have far more opportunities to hang out with them than with my pre-cohousing neighbors.

   Shadowlake Village Cohousing, Blacksburg, VA

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