Re: so is it cohousing?
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 10:21:31 -0800 (PST)
I have to say that I know that the Bellingham cohousing group was meeting
long before Wonderland ever got involved, so they do not meet my criteria
for Developer driven cohousing.  Nor do many of the other examples
mentioned. I have only heard  of two developer driven cohousing projects
where the developer bought the land, did the upfront development work and
THEN went out and recruited Cohousing members. In almost every other case,
the group had already formed, developed their vision of the community they
wanted, and after some time period hired wonderland or some other developer.
This would be in my definition "developer assisted cohousing", and so the
group already has a vision of how they want to live together, the developer
did not promote that vision for them, they already held it.  Again my point
in this question is not that developers are bad, it is the question, does a
community form when the developer organizes the group and sells the vision,
and does that community last when the project is up for sale and the
developer has to sell the units. Would the developer sacrifice their own
immediate self interest for the community vision, or would they simply soft
peddle the community at that point, sell the units to whomever, and thus
those that move into the last units have little interest or connection to
the vision of a community and all the commitment that takes to accomplish? 

There was a community in Aspen which begun as a cohousing group and shortly
after move in stopped calling themselves cohousing because only a few of the
people there actually held the vision of cohousing and community, every body
else was just looking for affordable housing, and after a year or so the
cohousing people moved on, in some cases quite bitter and discouraged.  I am
not suggesting that all or any developer driven cohousing would end up in
this way, but the question is, does a developer really care about forming a
community of people or selling real estate to make a profit?  And when those
things collide, where will their loyalties go?

I have gotten a few private email now that illustrate that when developers
are in charge, they sell to whomever and soft peddle the cohousing and
community expectations part and this puts them in conflict with the existing
residents, who want cohousing and community to be the core of why people
move in. This might not be always the case in this situation, hence why I
asked the question in the first place.  

Using the Common Ground cohousing group in Aspen as a model of failure I
would suggest there is a critical mass needed of residents to carry the
commitments of community in order to succeed. If they critical mass does not
hold, then the community will eventually probably just become a nice condo.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer
The Environmental Science School
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