Re: developmental stages of cohousing
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2011 17:47:25 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 2:31 PM, Rebecca Reid <rreid [at]> wrote:

--- clipped ---

> I wonder if this isn't a developmental stage for cohousing communities that
> looks like this:
> A bunch of people who like to work collaboratively on creative projects get
> together and create a cohousing community.  They enjoy the work, the
> challenge, the satisfaction of seeing the project grow.  Then they enjoy
> improving and tweaking and changing it as they learn more and more about
> better ways to do things, and they enjoy adapting it as it naturally
> changes.  Other people join because they want a nice neighborhood with good
> neighbors and happy kids and dinner cooked for them regularly.  At first
> everyone is involved in this creative process. Then, the people who joined
> because they wanted a nice neighborhood gradually stop being involved with
> the creative endeavor and settle into the neighborhood.  The founders and
> others who joined them in the creative process continue to work and think
> hard about improving it, when--and this is my biggest question-it may no
> longer be necessary.  Maybe these people are holdovers from the stage of
> community creation, and have not caught up to the new phase, which is to
> just live in it.  The "workers" are afraid that it will become just another
> condominium, the "livers" point out that it's a lot better than that and
> actually works very well.
I think you do describe a common developmental phase!

> I myself am about to leave Pioneer Valley because I didn't join for the
> nice
> neighborhood, but mainly for the joy and excitement of creating of a better
> way of life.  I want to continue working on this with other people who are
> also excited by the challenge,

Perhaps your some of your dissatisfied "workers" could help drive a new
vision for the community - one that the "livers" will support.

This is happening at Songaia, where some of the "workers" acquired two
adjoining properties which are under development.

Visiting Pioneer Valley in 2006 was where I first heard the idea of a
community "granny house" - from Laura Fitch. That idea has proven very
influential here at Songaia, as we think about aging in place.

Some of us Songaians have purchased two adjoining properties. People plan to
develop both of them as fully accessible spaces. We're looking at how to
optimize one of them specifically for older adults - expecting that more of
the current Songaia members will move "next door."

> and living at Pioneer Valley feels like
> beating a dead horse, as they say.    I want to feel like I am working on
> something
> together, and it may be that this desire of mine is no longer appropriate.

What a shame that you feel that you cannot express yourself in creatively
satisfying ways at Pioneer Valley...

I hope you find what you need, whether it be at PV - or elsewhere!

Craig Ragland
Coho/US Retired Exec. Dir.

P.S. I couldn't be happier about handing the Coho/US staff leadership reigns
to Rebecca Lane:

Many of you met Rebecca at the 2011 National Cohousing Conference in Wash,
DC. Many others will meet her at the 2012 National Cohousing Conference in
the SF Bay area!

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