cohousing vision
From: Gerald Manata (
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2011 11:01:38 -0700 (PDT)
     I have enjoyed reading these discussions about what people think cohousing 
is or isn't, or what it should be doing or shouldn't. I would like to join in 
with a different angle about my visions.I have been looking for feedback on 
this for a while.
     From my expereince, it seems to me that cohousing in America is a draw for 
educated, white (our complex is all white), middle class liberals. Since 
sociological studies point out that American middle class culture has evolved 
to become one of, if not the most, individualistic, anti-communitarian and 
loneliest cultures in history, its appeal for the above people is 
understandable.When moving into cohousing, however, I see people take this same 
middle class culture, its beliefs, mores, values, customs, rituals, taboos and 
lifestyles (often including materialism) with them, keep it, and have no 
thought of changing it. Most people do not want radical change, but simply want 
more of what they already have or have been doing-just a step up so to speak. 
They want more friendlier, but liberal neighbors they can socialize with (less 
surrounding diversity), people whom they can eat with more often, and people 
with whom they can experience "town hall"
 meetings in the process of greater self government more often. That is all 
most people seem to really want. If surrounded by a liberal town or city, 
there is very little difference at all, culturally speaking, between the 
cohousing inhabitants and the people of the surrounding neighborhoods. That is 
why I call cohousing a conservative revolution, for much the same reason 
historians call our 1776 U.S. revolution a conservative relolution.
     Radical dreamers like me, however, have wished cohousing could move or 
branch out to become more like village communities, something our species feels 
most comforable living in. The following are some universal traits common to 
all villages and how they may apply to cohousing. In villages, people 1. 
frequently eat together.  2. they frequently sing together, in concert, 
ceremonies or randomly.  3.they dance together, in structured ceremonies, 
special occasions or randomly.  4.they play together-not just the children. 5. 
they frequently play musical instruements together, in ceremonies, concerts or 
in random jam sessions. 6. they engage in intramural sports together. 7. they 
engage in inter-mural sports against other villages (local cohousing complexes 
playing against each other, perhaps in a league). 8. there is open 
communication. 9. there is community life greater than in U.S. culture. 10. 
They raise their children together (it takes a
 village). 11.there are ceremonies unique to the village. 12. There is a 
unifying religion or philosophy (for me this could simply be environmentalism, 
sustainability), laws, customs and other more communitarian cultural traits. 
13. There is an educational system (in an American cohousing complex, if it 
doesn't include replacing the local American school, then just having a few 
people who teach the children about the other 20 traints in this paragraph. 14. 
a justice system to enforce the rules of #12. 15. a governence system 
(consensus seems to fit educated, type A U.S. Liberals well). 16. a medical 
system (our own cohousing doctors and/or our own group health insurance plans, 
either self-funded or through outside companies), 17. a defensive system (in 
contemporary America, this would include not only martial arts skills and 
tactics but our own cohousing lawyers). 18. village based industries (cohousing 
businesses), 19. an economic system 20. trade
 agreements with other villages (cohousing communities and their industries 
trading with each other, perhaps leading to the creation of a Steady State 
Economy to replace the collapsing, now obsolete, American/world consumer-growth 
economy). 21. defensive alliances with other villages (in America, this would 
include cohousing complexes sending lobbyists to local governments, state wide 
cohousing alliances sending lobbyists to State governments, and national 
cohousing alliances sending lobbyists to Washington to defend common interests).
     I assume cohousing complexes vary in the amount of the above that they try 
to do. Ours does a few, dabbles in a few others and does not even talk about 
the rest. What are other people's thoughts?

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