Re: Developmental Stages of Cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 06:20:38 -0700 (PDT)
On 13 Aug 2011, at 1:16 PM, R Philip Dowds wrote:

> HIGH PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT: 15 units, 48%.  Regular appearance at 
> monthly General Meeting (GM); additional pro-active committee work; and 
> reliability for chores and special projects.  Includes founders and newcomers.

> MEDIUM: 10 units, 32%.  Sporadic appearance at GM, or selective engagement in 
> committee work and projects; pretty reliable for chores.

This is probably quite good. I think ours is about the same if not higher. This 
is 80%.

One of our problems is the move-in expectation that (1) we would do everything 
ourselves and (2) live at a below middle-class level in terms of aesthetics. 

The do-everything-ourselves has caused the overload of work for some. The lack 
of agreement on aesthetics and what is "necessary" has caused conflict. I think 
if these two things were resolved or prepared for from move-in, things would be 
easier. But perhaps they can't be.

> Some households refuse to engage with others because of unresolved 
> interpersonal tension.

I think resolution of this depends on the presence of someone in the community 
with the skills and willingness to deal with it, at least when it affects 
community life. I have learned to just give some people space because we are 
always in conflict otherwise. We just don't see the world the same way but 
still have to live together.

> Do nothing, change nothing is the final conclusion of much of our dialogue.

Frustrating. Those who don't want change or think it is necessary just have to 
sit on their hands to get what they want.

In dynamic governance, all policies expire and have to be renewed giving an 
opportunity for at least policy issues to be reexamined.

> CLIQUES:  Don't mean to be grouchy, but I must say that my cohousing 
> community has turned out to be the worst example of in-group / out-group 
> syndrome that I've encountered since high school.

We don't have this but some do socialize together — the dinner crowd couples — 
much more more than with others. What I find surprising is that people don't 
make a concerted effort to attend going away or special birthday parties when 
they don't like someone or disapprove of their participation in the community. 
It seems good manners to me to show up. And incredibly obvious in cohousing 
when they don't.

Maybe we need a book of cohousing etiquette.

Sharon Villines
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly 
  - Sir Barnett Cocks

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