Developmental Stages of Cohousing
From: Thomas Lofft (
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 20:06:33 -0700 (PDT)
I think Michael's ideas below are very creative and offer possibilities for 
serious consideration.
Community Renewal: How long has it been since you've been to a good old 
fashioned 'Revival'?
Not a religious revival, but a cohousing revival, like is offered every year at 
the CoHoUS conference? 
Attendance at the conference can offer many stimulating ideas for consideration 
by your community. 
Too expensive to get 50% of your community to the national conference?
How about budgeting $50 per household for hosting an in-situ "Cohousing 
Revival" within the community, including hiring an external cooking team to 
present the meals?
Select a knowledgeable, energetic "Cohousing Couch, excuse me, Coach" to 
provide stimulating discussion and targeted activities to re-engage the 
residents, including the teens and children. [Coaches: Submit a response to an 
implied Cohousing Coaching RFQ on line to this blog for consideration.] Is 
there a Certified Cohousing Couch designation yet?
Community Swinging: many couples find it stimulates the passion that may have 
diminished in their partnership.
Do you need a cohousing 'change of pace'? 
How about grabbing a one month vacation rental at another community in one of 
your dreamland vacation spots: Northwest; Boston; Washington, DC; California? 
Nevada? New Mexico?  
Or arrange a swap from your community for a direct swap with a household from 
another community and both communities will benefit from engaging with a new 
visitor from another planet with a head full of new perspectives to share. Yes, 
a Cohousing Exchange is an idea I've secretly embraced for a long time, but my 
personal plate is already very full for the rest of the year.\
Cheers, feel free to engage and embrace anything you like.
Tom Lofft
Liberty Village, MD
where we still need twenty more households to build new homes within commuting 
distance to Baltimore, Washington, and a dozen each different colleges and 
 From: "Michael Barrett" <mbarrett [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Developmental stages of cohousing
I am surprised that this issue has only now appeared on this board. I have 
observed, with regret, declining participation in both the cohousing 
communities I have been privileged to live in, and have speculated on 
whether it is possible to rekindle the social fires that exist in the brand 
new or building community. I am not optimistic. I feel it is something akin 
to love and marriage. In love one's life is changed. If marriage follows 
two lives are changed, hopefully and wonderfully. But a few years later, 
for most of us, the fires die down.
Perhaps cohousing is the same except that we fall in love with an idea, a 
practice and a whole bunch of people.
Following this analogy, there are marriage renewal movements which claim 
success. Perhaps problematically, "swinging" can provide a terrific boost 
to at least the sexual side of two (or more) partnerships or marriages. The 
cohousing conference is probably our best shot at a a renewal movement. I 
won't even speculate whether there is a cohousing equivalent to "swinging".
I see two significant positive influences on maintaining "community". One is 
a regular scheduled community shared meals program. The other is the 
presence in a community of the community organizer who, tirelessly and 
without tangible reward, keeps (in my experience) her finger on the pulse of 
needs and wishes and just never stops organizing "stuff".
Someone said to me that without constant pumping of the community (social) 
well, cohousing degenerates into conventional American society. I 
substantially agree. I have served my time trying to maintain and build 
community but am far from tireless, and I confess to a need for expressed 
appreciation, and eventually dropped off the relevant committee, and have 
confined much of my community activity to things that have less need for 
wide and enthusiastic community participation (like finance, and amending 
the bylaws).
Sadly the only other thing that I believe can bring a community together is 
disaster, or the real threat of truly imminent disaster. I believe the 
initial (and wonderful feel-so-good) bonds in a forming community are often 
largely forged in the fires of despair and frustration at the intransigence 
at those who may not support, or more likely actively oppose, the forming 
community. If there is any bright side to the dark side, my hope is that 
when the oil (or water or food) stops flowing cohousing communities will 
rediscover community, as opposed to my morbid fear that in conventional 
America, families will reach for their guns.
But hopefully there are communities out there who have found an equilibrium 
where happiness and contentment reign supreme and frustration and discord is 
almost non existent, and is very effectively handled. Can we hear from you 
how you do it?
Michael - at Shadowlake Village - where we are enjoying unseasonable 
August cool and low humidity (only 76? at midday today) and the children are 
counting down the days till school starts. Being as they, of course, share 
the same attributes as the children from Lake Woebegone they can barely wait 
to get back. ( I find the term "kids" to be somewhat dismissive, and thus 
something I resist applying to ours)


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