All of us have experienced meetings that bog down, get derailed, or run aground. Sometimes
it’s pretty dramatic, and sometimes it’s just a more extreme version of business as usual; but
regardless, it is demoralizing and generally makes it hard to accomplish the work you intended
to do. This can happen for many reasons, and it can be hard to figure out the whys, so it is
important to have tools for getting things moving in a useful way again even when you are not
entirely clear about what’s happening.
In the span of about 6 months, I will leave two precious cohousing communities. I ask myself how this can be as I’m more committed than ever to community living and building my life around it. It turns out, it’s complicated.
Often the burning souls of community move into cohousing and stay forever. There are good reasons to think of cohousing as a place where you can age in place and die in your bed surrounded by neighbors. It’s a great plan, and it happens, but not for everyone. Not even for everyone who loves community.
Cohousing begins with the premise that we want to share things. We think first of big, tangible things, like lawn mowers and guest rooms. Then there are smaller things, the proverbial cup of sugar, a ride to the airport. We anticipate and cherish this sharing as part of our identity as a cohousing community. We are less likely to anticipate the intangible sharing that comes with living together, the sharing of values represented in policies, agreements and rules. Policies about outdoor cats and free range kids and pesticide use to name a few.
I live in Trillium Hollow Cohousing Neighborhood, and just recently completed serving as project manager for a major construction defect remediation. Preparing for my “Managing the BIG PROJECT” presentation at the National CoHo conference, I talked with several other communities who have faced construction issues to gather lessons learned and cautionary tales.
Joe Cole joined us this evening for a thought-provoking presentation on Addressing Racism and Working for Racial Equality in Community Building.
Joe started with a long view of history, noting that the competitive culture of domination is recent, only 5000 years. Prior to that human cultures were collaborative, demonstrating that a cultural values of sustainability, equity, justice and diversity are possible for humanity.
Sarah Ross and Mary King of We Can Work It Out joined us for our twentieth webchat sharing tips and strategies of new member orientation in forming and established communities.
They explained that new member orientation has 4 primary objectives:
• To welcome new members
• To protect, preserve and pass on community culture
• To teach both informal and formal practices
• Give new members accurate expectations
Coho US has gone international with this interesting WebChat about cohousing in Berlin, Germany.
Michael LaFond, and architect raising in the US who lives and works in Germany, shared his experience of both living and working in cohousing in Berlin. Like all cohousing, these communities are self organized, community led, and sustainable. Unlike the most common cohousing communities in the US, they exist as part of larger housing units, occupying a couple of floors in a larger building, and they include homes that may not have a private kitchen.
With forming communities wanting to be as diverse as possible, the topic of Housing Segregation and its Impact on Cohousing couldn't be more important. Crystal's recent WebChat describes the history of segregated housing in America, the ways in which federal policy created and maintained segregation, and the ongoing impact of those policies and ongoing racist practices still today.