What Experienced Cohousers Seek in New Neighbors


Friday night (7/25), I gave a talk at the "Community Seeker's Fair" which kicked off the NICA Gathering here in Portland (described below).

I talked about characteristics of people who tend to do well in community: confidence and assertiveness, humility (they're not mutually exclusive), a willingness to pitch in and work, and a willingness to contribute to something larger than oneself. I asked members of the audience to come up with the characteristics, to call them out. "Humility!" someone shouted. "Not being a know-it-all!" said someone else. "Being willing to listen!" said yet another.

It all comes down to the same thing: Remembering that you're new. Listening and learning, perhaps for many months, before presuming to propose or advocate something new. Realizing that the community knows more than you do about how it functions and systems and methods it has tried before. Getting to know the place first, being in "receptive mode," before springing your, um, 12-Point Plan to Straighten Out These Fools.

I advocate humility as an important quality to cultivate (or simulate!) when joining a cohousing community. And members of the NICA audience — many of them cohousers — advocated the same.