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Israel's First Cooperative Living Community for the Elderly Doesn't Want to Be Taken Care Of - Haaretz

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Haaretz

Israel's First Cooperative Living Community for the Elderly Doesn't Want to Be Taken Care Of
Haaretz
“The greatest enemy of the 'third age' is loneliness,” says David Mencher, one of the founders of Cohousing Israel, which hopes to create the country's first cooperative living community for the elderly. There are nods of agreement in the room. “There ...

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) Celebrates its 30th Year in November - PR Web (press release)

Cohousing News from Google -


The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) Celebrates its 30th Year in November
PR Web (press release)
FIC focuses on supporting forming and existing intentional communities in North America, but also tracks more than 1,477 intentional communities globally, including co-ops, land trusts, Cohousing, ecovillages, communes, and collective living situations ...

No Fences Make the Best Neighbors: Collective Home Ownership, Kibbutz to Cohousing - lareviewofbooks

Cohousing News from Google -


No Fences Make the Best Neighbors: Collective Home Ownership, Kibbutz to Cohousing
lareviewofbooks
In examining these communities, I've focused on two basic models: the radically egalitarian commune, or kibbutz, and semi-collective cohousing, or moshav. For American examples, I looked at the 50-year-old Twin Oaks commune in Virginia and cohousing ...

Germantown Depot restaurant/bar opens, owners work to resolve dispute with neighbors - The Tennessean

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The Tennessean

Germantown Depot restaurant/bar opens, owners work to resolve dispute with neighbors
The Tennessean
But Curtis R. Harrington II, an attorney representing the neighboring cohousing community's homeowners association said while he remains hopeful of a resolution, a final agreement has yet to be executed. The neighbors had challenged Metro's zoning ...

How the older women who built their own co-housing community found the first year together - iNews

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iNews

How the older women who built their own co-housing community found the first year together
iNews
These are not preparations for a party but just a normal day in the life of 26 women who have embarked on a new way of living. Later there will be a communal dinner. Film nights and yoga classes are regular activities held at New Ground, the first co ...

Group Works: Iteration

Laird's Blog -

This entry continues a series in which I'm exploring concepts encapsulated in a set of 91 cards called Group Works, developed by Tree Bressen, Dave Pollard, and Sue Woehrlin. The deck represents "A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings and Other Gatherings."

In each blog, I'll examine a single card and what that elicits in me as a professional who works in the field of cooperative group dynamics. My intention in this series is to share what each pattern means to me. I am not suggesting a different ordering or different patterns—I will simply reflect on what the Group Works folks have put together.

The cards have been organized into nine groupings, and I'll tackle them in the order presented in the manual that accompanies the deck:

1. Intention2. Context3. Relationship4. Flow5. Creativity6. Perspective7. Modeling8. Inquiry & Synthesis9. Faith

In the Flow segment there are 15 cards. The sixth pattern in this category is labeled Iteration. Here is the image and thumbnail text from that card:
Try it a second time, even a third. Outcomes of one round of activity or conversation inform the next, deepening, expanding, and generating new understandings and possibilities. For more powerful effect, repeat a process multiple times in the moment, or revisit at a later time.

This pattern is a tricky one. The first thing that occurred to me is this counterpoint quote, widely attributed to Albert Einstein: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

With that cautionary note in hand, where is the gold in Iteration? There can be an important—though sometimes subtle—difference between incremental gain and no gain. The importance of this pattern lies in the fact that groups frequently are unable to tie up a topic with a ribbon and bow in one pass. If participants think in terms of all or nothing (only completion will be deemed a success), then they may miss substantive gains on the road to completion. 

In my experience it is common for groups to take multiple meetings to complete deliberations on complex topics, and it is crucial that the group (either through savvy facilitation or the diligence of the topic's sponsors) recognize partial product that's achieved along the way (otherwise that ground will just have to be replowed, which is bad on morale). Think of it as scaffolding en route to completion; subsequent meetings should start where the prior one left off—not back at the beginning each time.

Groups should always go into meetings expecting progress to be made (and facilitators should never allow a meeting to end without summarizing the product, helping to ground the gains, lest they evaporate in a cloud of vagueness). That said, some meetings yield more high-grade ore than others, and occasionally it takes some careful discernment to identify the product.

BTW, "product" can be many things. In addition to solutions or agreements, progress can include:
•  Resolving tensions in connection with the issue, allowing people to hear one another better (clearing the air)
•  Determining who else needs to be brought into the conversation (and who will extend the invitation)
•  Getting clear on how prior agreements and common values impact the current discussion
•  Defining questions
•  Creating a road map for exploring the topic thoroughly (identifying subtopics and the order in which they'll be engaged)  
•  Striking an ad hoc committee to shepherd the issue 
•  Assigning research
•  Establishing deadlines for relevant work to be done outside of session

What's more, Iteration can show up in multiple ways:

A. Asking the same question in the same way
You might make this choice in different meetings, because the attendance has shifted and you want to hear what the new people have to say. Or you may do it back-to-back in the same meeting, but with the facilitator probing more deeply into the meaning of the responses.

B. Exploring the same aspect of the issue but with a different focusing question
Listening to one round of answers may suggest a potent follow-up question (or two) that uncovers new veins of insight. As long as you're gaining depth and understanding with successive rounds, why stop?

C. Exploring the same aspect of the issue but with a different format
Often enough, the responses change with the format—both what is contributed and who voices it. People who are quiet or uncertain with one approach may open up and become suddenly eloquent under a different one. Note: no single approach works best all the time, so beware of claims made for a particular format as the blue ribbon best for all occasions.
Going back to Einstein, it is imperative to have a clear idea why iteration will be constructive—why going to the well again (in any of the above senses) will yield new results and enhance your grasp of the issue or how best to proceed. You should not repeat an exercise simply because you can't think of what else to do and this Group Works card admonished you to do it.

Note that the image that accompanies this card is of a spiral staircase. Iteration works if it's an upward spiral. If you're just going around in circles (aka spinning your wheels), that's not the time to hit play-repeat. Groups (and facilitators) should be following their noses (on the scent for product), not slavishly following a formula.

How Intentional Communities May Save the World

Laird's Blog -

At the end of last month I had an opportunity to give a talk at Carleton College in Northfield MN. I'm an alumnus there and was on campus as a guest speaker for a freshmen course on Utopias. The philosophy professor who brought me in offered me a chance to give a talk during the noon hour that would be open to all students. I accepted, and today's blog is the essence of my presentation, Sept 29.

Fifty years ago this fall I had just arrived on campus as a Carleton freshman. Those were days of foment and change. Among other things, they were the last days of in loco parentis. My first year men were allowed on women’s dorm floors from 2-4 pm on Tuesday; women had reciprocal privileges on Thursday afternoons. The door was supposed to be open at least six inches and three feet were supposed to be on the floor at all times. By the time I was a senior I was a resident assistant on a coed dorm floor. All efforts by the college to keep men and women physically separated from their animal urges were abandoned.

During my tenure, students were not allowed to have cars, everyone lived on campus, and the winters were long and cold—this was back before climate change, and Al Gore had not yet invented the internet. 

Having been raised in the Father-Knows-Best Republican suburbs of Chicago, campus life brought me face to face with a number of potent realities for the first time, including institutional racism and the early days of feminism. There were riots on the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention. Vietnam was raging. Kent State happened in 1970. That same spring I got arrested protesting at a draft induction center in St Paul—along with scores of my fellow students and the college chaplain. I received a lottery number and prepared to apply for a CO status if I got drafted after graduation. 

Cooperation as the Obverse of Competition 
In the classroom, I took an introduction to sociology course in which I learned that cooperation is the opposite of competition. While that caught my attention right away, I had no idea how central that revelation was to become in my life. Bookmark that insight. I’ll come back to it later.

I loved my Carleton years, where I experienced a combination of stimulation and support that fostered both inquiry and personal growth.

When I graduated (1971) I wanted to make a difference in the world, and took a job with the federal government in DC, to see if that was the right stage on which to apply myself—in the belly of the beast. Working for the US Dept of Transportation, one day I met the person who was the secretary of the administrative assistant for the Assistant Secretary for Administration. When I simultaneously realized both how funny that was and that I knew what it meant, it occurred to me that I might have been in Washington too long.

So, at the advanced age of 23, I retired from the M-F 9-5 world—which, incidentally, I never returned to—and rebooted my post-college life, beginning with a different question: instead of "what would I do?" I asked "who do I want to do it with?" I was beginning to understand the primacy of relationships in the pursuit of happiness. I wanted the milieu I tasted at Carleton but I didn’t want to go back to school to get it. It was at that point that I stumbled onto the arcane world of intentional community: groups of people living together on the basis of explicit common values. This, I thought, might be what I was looking for. And it was. Not as an escape from mainstream society, but as a base of operations.

I was part of two couples (three of whom were Carls) who founded Sandhill Farm in 1974. Located in the rural, northeast corner of Missouri, we pooled our income and dedicated ourselves to organic food production, land stewardship, and right livelihood. I lived there happily for 40 years.

In 1979 I became restless with an exclusive focus on Sandhill, and started looking beyond the property lines to expand my locus of attention. While I considered community living to be a political act (not escapism), I wanted to expand my field of operations. With that in mind I got involved in community networking, promoting dialog and collaboration among sister communities. At first I did this via Sandhill joining the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (in 1980) and my serving as a delegate. Seven years later I helped start the Fellowship for Intentional Community, a clearinghouse of information about communities of all stripes with a special emphasis on North America. 

Also in 1987 I launched a career as a process consultant working with cooperative groups, helping them to successfully weather internal tensions and to develop effective structures. Although I no longer live at Sandhill (I left in 2014), I continue my consulting work and in the last three decades I’ve stepped into the fire to work with more than 100 groups across the continent. Over time I’ve become an expert in cooperative group dynamics. 

Why Does This Matter? 
The world of intentional community is small and not widely known. FIC figures there are roughly 100,000 people in the US who live in some form of self-identified intentional community—groups who willingly wear that label. In a country of 325 million that’s less than 0.03%. While the number of communities is growing, it's statistically insignificant. Do I think it’s the wave of the future? No. It’s too radical. So what’s the point? 

If you ask people if they have as much community in their life as they want—without defining what community means—I figure you might get 100 million people saying they’d like more than they have. There are that many who will tell you that they experienced a greater sense of neighborhood and belonging when they grew up than they have today. That’s three orders of magnitude larger. Now we're talking impact. What does intentional community have to offer those 100 million people?

Let’s go back to that point I made earlier about cooperation being the opposite of competition. 

I Versus We 
In any society there is a dynamic tension between how much individuals are acculturated to identify with self, and how much with society (or neighborhood, village, or tribe). When you take a step back and examine contemporary US culture from an anthropological perspective, I think you can make the case that there has never been a time in human history when the focus on the individual was more ascendant. 

In a competitive culture—which is unquestionably what we have in the US—the "I" focus is constantly being reinforced. So what? Consider what happens when you're in a conversation and you agree with half of what someone says and disagree with the other half.

For almost everyone, their first response is "But… " Even though you could just as legitimately start by acknowledging the partial agreement, that's rarely what happens—because our cultural imperative is to identify how we are unique, or at least distinct from others. When we agree, we don't establish differentiation.

This tendency has a profound impact on the atmosphere in which the conversation proceeds. If the  competitive environment prevails, you're essentially hoping that a fair fight will produce the best result—the strongest ideas will survive. If however you reverse this, and start by acknowledging the common ground, you can establish a cooperative container, where everyone is on the same team and differences can be encouraged for their potential of offering hybrid vigor. This may sound like a simple trick, but it's radically different.

In competition, there is a tug-of-war, where different views are in ridden into battle to see which prevails. In cooperation, everyone is in the same boat trying to successfully navigate a stream of different ideas. While the currents may be treacherous, and there may be different ideas about the best course, the people are trying to pull together.

One way to understand the impulse to experiment with intentional community is a desire to purposely shift one's location on the I—we spectrum more toward the "we" end. The trade-off is you get better connection and support, in exchange for relinquishing some control and autonomy. When people report that they want more community in their life, they are, in effect, saying that they’re jonesing for a greater sense of belonging. 

Now let’s look at two main ways that intentional community is pioneering critical work that addresses current societal challenges: 

I. Resource consumption 
There are about 7.5 billion in the world today and that number is rising. By any sane measure we are running out of resources and it is flat impossible for all the people in the world to consume resources at the current US rate. Should we just thank our lucky stars and hope to hold on, or try to do something equitable about it? I prefer the latter.

One of the ways that intentional communities are important to the wider society is that they are R&D centers for radical sharing. What if we challenge the notion that quality of life equates with throughput and acquisition material goods—the concept that the person who has the most stuff when they die wins? I realize it sounds fairly shallow when I state it that crudely, yet that’s how most people live their lives.

Here are four leverage points on how to shift this that are being actively modeled by intentional community:

A. Economies of scale
There is a lot that can be done to minimize drudgery and liberate time. If seven households living near each other agreed that they’d each cook one night a week for all seven, think how much time that would free up! It does not take anywhere near seven times as long to cook for seven times as many people. Yet mostly households cook alone every night. While cooking for only your own household gives you maximum control over menu, who wants to cook and clean up every night if there was a non-exploitative way to slash that by 80 percent? Even doing this just some of the time could make a big difference.

When I lived at Sandhill (where meals were prepared for members every night) it turned out that it was my turn to cook about once a week. Not only was that more efficient, but I truly enjoyed cooking at that frequency. If I had to do it every night, however, it would suck the air out of my happy balloon.

B. No prostitution
What value would you place on an integrated life, where work, school, home, and place of worship are in one location, aligned with your values? There’s a constant psychic drain that people experience when a core aspect of their life is out of alignment with what they believe in, yet almost everyone suffers from this to some degree. Think how common it is for people to either dislike what they do to earn a living, or are unhappy with where they live—or are happy with both but accept a brutal commute as the price to have them.

While it's not easy to quantify this cost, it’s expensive. To what extent do you think a person's long-term health is impacted adversely by having major aspects of their life unaligned with core values? I think it's pretty damn big.

C. Substituting access for ownershipThe essential model our society offers for achieving success is ownership. But is that actually necessary? Isn't access to things a reasonable substitute for ownership? How many of us need to own our own lawnmower, table saw, or extension ladder? How about your own car? 

I lived for a couple years at Dancing Rabbit, an ecovillage of about 45 adults that is trying to showcase the possibilities for living a high-quality life on drastically fewer resources. In line with that mission members agree to not operate private vehicles. Instead, the community runs a car co-op to meet members' needs. With some sophisticated scheduling and a willingness to share rides with others, they have been able to provide a vehicle to meet 98 percent of members needs to go to a certain town on a certain day with a fleet of three cars and a pickup.

Think about that. Their ratio of adults to vehicles is greater than 10:1. By way of contrast, in 2015, the ratio of licensed drivers to licensed vehicles in the US was 218 million to 263 million, a ratio of 5:6. What's wrong with this picture? It's apparent that the overwhelming majority of people in this country blandly accept that they "need" their own car (some apparently "need" two!), even though it sits idle the vast majority of the time. This represents an incredibly wasteful investment for the sake of convenience.

What could be freed up if you weren't chasing the dollars needed to buy, operate, service, insure, and house your own private car(s)? If Dancing Rabbit adults were operating vehicles at the US average they'd have a fleet of 54. That catches people's attention.

To be sure, sharing resources means there are some additional challenges. For one, there can be scheduling issues, when two or more people want to use a jointly owned asset at the same time. You have come up with a reasonable and fair way to settle who gets to use a thing when there is more demand than availability.

For two, there can be tension around how common assets are maintained. When everyone owns thing, there can be a tendency for no one to maintain it. Tragedy of the commons. Even if maintenance expectations are clearly spelled out, it's likely that people will vary significantly in how diligently they apply themselves to those standards of care—the end result of which is someone can discover at 4:30 am that the community car they've been assigned does not have enough gas in it to make it to the train station 60 miles away (which actually happened to me once).

So there are definitely kinks to work out. Yet, in return, there are 50 fewer cars on the road. Not a bad trade.

D. Redefining security in terms of relationshipsUntil the advent of cities—a relatively modern human phenomenon—humans mainly aggregated in tribes or villages. In that context, your fellow humans would be there for you in time of need. Security was not about bank accounts or insurance; it was about relationships.

In community, people are trying to recreate this safety net of relationships. The pool needs to be large enough that you can be reasonably secure from too many needing support at the same time, or from the burden of care falling too heavily on the shoulders of too few (strength in numbers), yet not so large that people don't know one another, and the interpersonal bonds are too dilute.

This is a huge lever in that it allows people to release the need to accumulate assets against the potentials of old age or compromised health. Think how freeing this could be! If you needed fewer dollars to make your life work, it would give you a wider choice of employment, because you could trade off lower compensation in exchange for a better values match.

II. Problem solving 
Now let’s go back to the I—we spectrum, and the strong tendency in contemporary culture to focus first on disagreement—on how we are different from others. This has a profound impact on how people solve problems.

In the mainstream culture people work to aggregate enough power (or enough votes) to win. In cooperative culture, the strategy is to make sure that there’s a legitimate opportunity for all voices to be heard and then to collectively labor to find the solution that best balances the factors and interests: no one goes forward until all go forward. In the former we come to meetings hoping to change other people’s minds (so that our idea will prevail). In the latter we come to meetings hoping that our minds will be changed (because the ideas of others may enhance our thinking, from which the whole will benefit).

And it’s more than that. Think about how dehumanizing and stultifying it is that the wider culture operates as if all human input can be neatly translated into ideation, allowing little or no room for emotional and intuitive input—which are parts of our birthright as a species. Much of my group consulting requires me to work constructively with conflict, where emotional reactivity is a central component. We have little facility with this in the wider culture and we desperately need a vocabulary and orientation that allows us to welcome passion and spirit into our work.

The power of these differences can hardly be more compelling when one contemplates the current incivility and polarization in current politics, where polemics and vilification have replaced dialog and mutual respect. Greater competition is not the answer. Neither is a President who is knee-jerk counter puncher. We need a paradigm shift.

Intentional communities are important to contemporary society—not because they will become a dominant lifestyle—but because they are the R&D centers where we are unlearning competitive conditioning, and figuring out how to cooperate instead. The gleanings from the intentional community experience can be exported into schools, churches, neighborhoods, and workplaces—wherever people ache for more community and sense of connection—and that’s why it may save the world.

Variations on utopia – An Irishwoman's Diary on California's retirement communities - Irish Times

Cohousing News from Google -


Irish Times

Variations on utopia – An Irishwoman's Diary on California's retirement communities
Irish Times
As a high-functioning “intentional cohousing” haven for over-55s, it draws poets, writers, teachers and world-class cooks, and aims for a higher plane of living. It's welcomed 31 active retirees to date with room for more. It's spectacularly located on ...

Walliance: parte la raccolta in crowdfunding per Cohousing Chiaravalle - Monitorimmobiliare.it

Cohousing News from Google -


Monitorimmobiliare.it

Walliance: parte la raccolta in crowdfunding per Cohousing Chiaravalle
Monitorimmobiliare.it
... ritorni sull'investimento, sappiano apprezzare l'innovatività del progetto e il suo impatto anche sociale, la seconda è che potenzialmente gli stessi cohouser di Chiaravalle, ma anche tutta la community cohousing.it, potrebbero essere investitori e ...

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