What is Intergenerational Cohousing
From: Thomas Lofft (tloffthotmail.com)
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2016 22:51:28 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 30, 2016, at 12:10 PM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] sharonvillines.com> 

[A community of 30-somethings and their children wouldn't be a good place to 
live for the adults or their children. Particularly the children. That's what I 
fear when I hear about the growth of senior cohousing.

I think my message yesterday may have sounded too harsh. I'm planning back 
surgery in the next month or two. If that wasn't hard enough, I am trying to 
find people to take responsibility for my tasks. It is not easy.

The hard parts are the taking responsibility parts. Some people will do a 
specific task (eventually) but not take responsibility, as in "be in charge in 
case something happens." My father was a Marine and my grandmother should have 
been. I'm at least a fourth generation first born. It's genetic that I want 
someone in charge. I like things relaxed and free-flowing but I need to know 
someone will snap to attention when things start blowing up. Or smelling.

Many of our founding members have reached the ages of 70+, including me. We 
still head the teams and show up at midnight when the common house is flooding. 
I feel guilty about continuing to ask people who are older than I am to take on 
my tasks. They already are doing too much. And doing far more than their share 
for 15 years. But they are totally reliable which is hard to resist.

30-somethings are still used to the older generation being in charge. Changing 
this is like raising one's own children again, and again, and again, as we have 
new residents. It isn't a problem with the particular people.

We have wonderful people moving in. Totally committed to cohousing. It's the 
conflict between the adult development stages for both the 30-somethings and 
the 70-somethings. I feel like I have more and more children everyday. I'm not 
good at stepping back and just cringing because they want to make the same 
mistakes that I've seen 3 other generations make.]

My Comments:

A lot of cohousing was developed between 1990 and 2000, most of it started by 
50 somethings with a commitment to planning, developing and living 
intergenerationally, raising their children accordingly to live with and 
respect adults as mentors and friends. Now they are 70 somethings, their 
children are mostly in college or careers, and their communities have 
negotiated growth and self-management through frequent conversations over both 
community meals as well as in multiple meetings.  If their intergenerational 
aspirations were successful, they empowered a next generation to manage the 
finances, the meetings, the consensus, the facilities, etc. and they are now 
able to let loose of the 'power' and watch their community evolve into homes 
for the next younger generation.

It's critical for the Founders to learn to teach, train and let loose, and to 
encourage the Next Generation to do the same in due time.  I suspect that very 
few cohousing communities have had children raise their own NexGen families in 
the same community in which they were raised. But new settlers keep moving in, 
having children and revisiting the same issues of the 20th century or bringing 
in their own sensibilities about neighboring, dining, cleaning up after kids 
and pets, or fear of RF.  Those that couldn't or wouldn't manage this 
transition of power by letting loose may well have passed away or decided to 
move to Senior Cohousing.  Now their decisions are more attuned to how much 
work they want to do for themselves or how much to pay for contractors.

Tom Lofft

Liberty Village, MD

Still Intergenerational in Mind, in Spirit, and in Function

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