Re: Social participation (was How do we hold each other accountable?)
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 08:34:33 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 28, 2010, at 12:49 PM, Naomi Anderegg wrote:

 I think that's mostly from fear,
presumably of being forced to do more work than they'd prefer. Which
is a whole discussion of itself (and I've read the list archives where
it's covered extensively and intensively)."

Interesting to me was that when we had this conversation before move- in, a number of people were seriously afraid of not being able or competent to do whatever was needed. They felt very insecure about being able to contribute.

I remember one woman, who was very competent civil rights lawyer, being very excited in a round on workshare saying, "I didn't think I could do anything people needed but I can. I love to clean bathrooms." We all looked at her with appreciation and relief since obvious to us we were dreading cleaning bathrooms. Then another woman stepped up to help. She was a clean bathroom fan, but also worked worked very variable hours, sometimes a 48 hour shift and often at night. Doing the bathrooms meant she could do them at midnight or 4:00 in the morning.

So you might go at it from a different direction -- make a list of things that need to be done or ask people what they would like to do. I haven't asked everyone but I don't think we have anyone doing things they don't like to do. So many things need to be done that some things go undone, but what people do needs doing. Of course after move-in every one changes personalities but at least they don't go into it with discomfort.

That said, it seems to me that by
participating in co-housing a person is acknowledging a belief that communities are built by people and relationships and that building a community requires a
time investment on community members' parts.

Unfortunately this is not true. People tend to think it's just fine not to participate or believe that by coming to a meeting every 6 months they are participating. A neighbor felt that it was a lot work to water the CH plants once a week.

The reality also is that many people are totally overwhelmed by their own lives already. Adding any community expectations puts them over the edge -- they go blank or anxious on you. They have moved into cohousing because they think it will make their lives easier. It can make them richer, but I'm not sure about easier. Certain things are easier -- emergency or last minute childcare, borrowing cars, easy social life outside your door (and inside it too), borrowing extra tents and air mattresses -- stuff like that. But there are also added expectations that people just don't seem to factor in.


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