Re: New diversity statement
From: Tiffany Lee Brown (
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:48:30 -0700 (PDT)
Mira, I recently moved away from Portland and what you describe is common in 
many communities there, not just cohousing situations. It is a bizarrely 
racist/segregated place given how liberal it also is.

 People from more sophisticated, integrated, diverse cities arrive and are 
often confused and shocked. I grew up in Oregon but lived in the Bay Area for 
college. Moving to Portland in 1995, I was shocked and confused by the 
segregation too.

It's getting better, believe it or not, but the whole state was founded on 
explicit racism, and there's a long history of tight-lipped, polite, white 
Protestant pioneers whose descendants are still somewhat horrified by any 
discussion that is too blunt and passionate---whether the conversation is about 
race or something else entirely. A generally passive-aggressive climate of 
folks just trying to get along can lead to denial and refusal to really deal 
with thorny or uncomfortable issues.

Mind you, I love Oregon, but I'm aware that I am pasty, pasty white and part of 
the problem. We have moved to the dry side of Oregon now, for health reasons, 
which is a largely rural marshmallow land. If I ever succeed in helping start a 
co-housing or other community living situation here in Central Oregon? I would 
hope we'd recruit among diverse communities outside the region. But sheesh, I 
would not blame any of them for turning up their noses at the idea of moving 

How much does a lack of racial or ethnic diversity in urban cohousing 
communities reflect the general attitudes and demographics of those 
communities, does anyone know? 

-T in Oregon

PS: Mira - no credit goes to me for bringing up these issues; I was just 
responding to posts made by others who actually know what they're taking about, 
because they are people of color in co-housing. I'm just a 
wannabe-community-houser of privilege  with a big mouth.

Sent from the far shores of a distant land

> On Sep 27, 2016, at 12:18 PM, mira Danyel brisk <mirabepeace [at]> 
> wrote:
> HI Tiffany,
> Where in Oregon are you?  Are you currently living in a community??
> Everyone,
> I had the opportunity to visit a few communities along a trip I took over
> the Summer including a number of them in Portland.  There was a range of
> racial issues either brought up or not (untalked about) during my visits.
> This lack of understanding towards the experience of the people of color
> either within or around their community among the general
> 'community-oriented white liberals' that lives in some of them (definitely
> not all) was apparent in some cases.
> I spoke with one person who was the only black or person or color in her
> community and expressed feeling misunderstood or dismissed on a number of
> occasions when she brought up topics that felt important and relevant to
> her.   I would love her to know that she is not alone.... since she felt
> like she may be the only black person in ANY cohousing community...  (most
> communities live on Islands, it turns out.... and don't connect much with
> fellow communities in the same state, let along across the country........
> and let alone their actual neighbors that are NOT within the
> community........   )
> Can we go more out of our way to Understand historically and presently
> Disenfranchised / minority groups whether they are within or around where
> we live?   What can we do in this regard?
> It is worth us getting to know what others' experiences are - no matter
> what "differences" we think exist?  Isn't that part of what CO-housing is
> about??   Or is it???
> We are ALL different....  in many ways since we all see things from our own
> perspectives mostly.    How can we stretch outside our 'comfort zone' more
> to understand others perspectives and a larger picture?
> Thank you for bringing up and working on these too often untalked about and
> needed questions in yourself and with this group Tiffany  and others!
> Mira
> Charlotte Cohousing,  among other things~
> On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 2:57 PM, Tiffany Lee Brown <magdalen23 [at]>
> wrote:
>> Carol and Crystal --
>> Thank you for taking the time to respond. A lot of us progressive,
>> community-oriented white liberals need to be helped along in our
>> understanding of what others experience. Our good intentions only go so
>> far. I imagine it would be frustrating to watch us make assumptions and
>> cast generalizations. I apologize for any such remarks I've made in this
>> conversation so far... And again thank you for not giving up on us entirely.
>> -T in Oregon
>> Sent from the far shores of a distant land
>>>> On Sep 27, 2016, at 11:16 AM, carol collier via Cohousing-L <
>>> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
>>> blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important;
>> border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important;
>> background-color:white !important; }  I left this conversation long ago
>> because it is typical. You have a lot of people us what we think or feel
>> based on some alleged interaction, but the very people living the life are
>> dismissed.
>>> Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone
>>>> On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 11:51 AM, Crystal Farmer <
>>> crystalbyrdfarmer [at]> wrote:
>>> It's fine to presume that the majority of black people don't want to live
>>> in cohousing, but you have at least two black people on this mailing list
>>> that say they do. We are also suggesting ways to make minorities more
>>> comfortable with learning about and living in cohousing. Are you going to
>>> discount those views because it takes too much work?
>>> People of all races come by our tables at events and listen to my spiel
>>> about cohousing. It takes less than a minute. When they say, "That's a
>>> great idea!" I invite them to learn more. I don't say, "Well you probably
>>> already have a supportive community so you don't need us."
>>> It is very typical for black people to be told what their experience is
>>> instead of others listening to them.
>>> Crystal Farmer
>>> Charlotte Cohousing Community
>>> Quote:
>>> Based on my experience managing outreach for a forming community in the
>> DC
>>> area, I've come to the conclusion that cohousers may want diversity, but
>>> "minorities" (for lack of a better umbrella term) don't necessarily want
>>> more community. For starters, they're more likely to either stay close to
>>> home and family or bring family with them if they move. Either way,
>> they'll
>>> also be deeply involved in cultural and/or religious organizations.
>>> For example, your typical home-buying African American female in the DC
>>> area will have a demanding job, will have extended family in the area (or
>>> maybe in southern VA or NC, where she will visit often), will be very
>>> active in a church, and will also be involved with her college sorority.
>> Is
>>> she really going to be looking for another set of commitments and
>>> activities when she comes home from a long day at work? Especially
>>> involving a bunch of earnest liberals trying to excise their white guilt?
>>> White people are the ones who leave their families and move cross-country
>>> all by themselves and find themselves rootless and lonely and seeking
>>> community.
>>> Of course there will be exceptions to everything I've said, and maybe I'm
>>> completely wrong, but I spent way too much time trying to explain
>> cohousing
>>> to people who were clearly thinking "Why on earth would I want to get
>>> involved in something like that?" Then I started marketing to the LGBTQ
>>> community and got a much better reception.
>>> Katie Henry
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> -- 
> Peace!
> Mira Danyel Brisk
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