When I saw a blog on a cohousing website, I realized that we have missed the boat on using blogs to market cohousing. By reading the informal accounts of personal and community events, I felt this was a community I could walk into and be perfectly happy. The posts were about things like canning tomatoes, their Royal Bocce Ball tournament, and fears about getting to know people.
That is what people who are considering cohousing want to know. Who are these people and what do they do? Is this a therapy group or what?
In sociocracy, consent and consensus decision-making are only used for policy decisions. Policy decisions are those that govern actions and allocation of resources (budget, people, etc.). But this leaves questions for many people about when to use consent and consensus decision-making. It helps to look at policy decisions v, operations decisions.
Sharon Villines, Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
I thought a question on the cohousing email list what causes conflict in cohousing was an interesting one. There was an element of surprise in the question. Do you allow conflict? Sometimes we paint ourselves to potential new members as rainbows and candy.
The usual suspects that cause conflict are "parents, pets, and pesticides". Or children's behavior, outdoor pets, and cleaning or killing chemicals used in the garden or the common house.
When lying awake last night reflecting on various decisions made in cohousing and in my neighborhood community, I explored some questions about what is open and transparent in a world where everyone belongs to several organizations and tries to involve and represent a larger community.
What is required to truly inform and solicit information about the needs, desires, or preferences of “the community.” How does a group know when it is being inclusive and transparent? And accountable?
Sharon Villines, Sociocracy.info "A Deeper Democracy"
What are some ways to encourage people to create low-income cohousing?,
1. Define "low income."
“Affordable” is not a euphemism for “low income.” Affordable is usually defined as 80% of the average cost of a similar housing unit in the area. That could be in the millions and still be called "affordable.”
HUD’s definitions for Low and Very Low Income are on this page:
A woman in the sociocracy discussion group at the cohousing conference asked about people who join being able to change policies. The group has a pet policy but the new person wants it changed. My response was that policies are always open for reconsideration. The answer was too short and I’m hoping she or someone one is on the list from that group to share this with her.
Rather than teams focusing on support for aging in place, I think it would be better to have a team focused on (1) what all community members need and (2) extending our notions about the abilities of all individuals to support others. Just because people are aging doesn’t mean they have more needs than anyone else.
I include below a list of things that neighbors can and should not do for neighbors with who need support or health care. One of our residents put this together when we another resident needed more than we could provide and the family was not stepping in. In another instance, the community stepped up for what was expected to be a short term of support that extended to several years. Supporting the resident also became supporting family members who come to help. Meals for one or two became meals for four or five. It was unsustainable and created feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
Most values statements are so vague that pretty much anyone would be willing to endorse them. Values statements mean nothing unless they are connected to a vision, mission, and aims. The same organization can say we value environmentally friendly products and processes and mean entirely different things. I'm sure there is an executive at BP that can tell you they are one of the most environmentally friendly multinational corporation on the planet. And always have been. Committing to Mom and apple pie isn't going to energize and focus your community.