Cohousing and Coronavirus: Forming Communities

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The New and Forming Communities Web Chat was attended by as many as 31 people from around the country.  A very stimulating and informative session!

A summary of the high points:

  1. Karin’s introduction – the Coho WebChat series is an effort to use our shared experiences to help cohousers across the country.  Today’s session’s aim is to provide ideas for “forming communities” in the face of the Coronovirus Crisis. Some ideas…

 

  1. How to engage/attract new potential members to “forming communities” during the crisis?

The energy level of a new/forming community will find a way to break through obstacles and continue the work.  People very much want to continue moving ahead, even now.

 

  • There’s widespread concern over the state of the economy; will some potential members or “Explorers” choose to simply back off during the crisis? Economic uncertainty (stock market/job losses) of the present moment leads to hesitance with decision-making.
  • However, the opportunity to come together in this (Zoom Meeting) format demonstrates a great response to the situation and shows prospects what it’s like to be in community!

 

  • The special challenge of holding Zoom Social Gatherings.  Some tips:
      1. Pose a question to participants, in order to prompt dialogue and brainstorming
      2. Invite a “show and tell” form of participation 
      3. Share “what we do in cohousing” – shared meals, etc.
      4. Virtual tours?  (more on this below)
  • Possible Zoom on-line events could include community coffees…lunches…”On-Line Happy Hours”; occasional one-on-one special moments sometimes occur
    1. The host can facilitate the meeting to keep cross-talk to a minimum and keep things focused; define “ground rules” to help keep things on track.
    2. Zoom break-out sessions (smaller groups) to encourage deeper conversation

 

  • Video Site Tours:
  • One participant mentioned a hand-held video moving through the community spaces 
    1. Emphasize community, as well as physical spaces
    2. Have community members waiting around the site for “staged” gatherings 

 

  1. Marketing/Mass Mediahow much “advertising” (aimed at recruiting new members) will be productive during the crisis?
    1. Web site inquiries are down in recent weeks, according to several in attendance
    2. Potential wisdom of reducing advertising expenditures for now, and emphasizing firming up relationships with “explorers”; re-visit the database; monthly newsletters?

 

  1. Another Perspective – The crisis may increase the longing for community – the “sense of what’s possible”
    1. The excitement of being in community is renewed among “cohousing old-timers”
    2. Outreach sooner rather than later, as people will only be getting busier with the crisis
    3. Potential waiver of time lines for investment

 

  1. “Sharing Our Stories” – an important part of marketing cohousing. How can communities share their stories for other (especially forming) communities to use in their outreach??

 

  1. Teaching Techniques that work well on-line:
    1. Continue using good teaching methods
    2. Break-out rooms for more intimate discussions
    3. Videos that emphasize the PEOPLE part of cohousing
    4. Stories that make the cohousing lifestyle real for newcomers/Explorers

 

  1. Implications of the current economic situation in relation to forming communities?
    1. Ease off on “cash demands” for those in who are preparing to make a deeper commitment
    2. Building costs may actually not go up as quickly 
    3. Can architects/builders ease their cash expectations during the downturn?
    4. Other adjustments to the investment time frame for “explorers”??

 

  1. Above all – DON’T GO QUIET during the crisis

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