Separating the “Wheat” from the “Chaff” Ahead of Time Online

By Diana Leafe Christian

If you’re looking for a forming cohousing community, learn to “read between the lines” in directory listings and websites.

• I observed in my book Creating a Life Together that only about 10 percent of forming intentional community groups succeed, and about 90 percent fail. And while the statistics for cohousing communities are better — Chuck Durrett estimates that about a third of all cohousing core groups succeed in building their community — many do fail, and sometimes this means people lose a great deal of money. So in order to join a group that has a good chance of success, I’d want you to know as much as possible ahead of time about the process of forming a cohousing community. And as much as possible about how successful core groups function.
I just read all the “forming” listings in all the states in the directory of communities on this website, and read each community’s website too. I recommend you do this too! In an hour or so you’ll get a sense of how core groups can be well organized or not organized yet, and the many different stages of the process. A fascinating short online education!
• If the listing shows few or no people, no property, or property but only one or two people (who most likely own the property), and there is no website, this most likely means the group is very new. The advantages of joining a brand new group are that you can help influence its direction, and you’ll have plenty of time to make up your mind whether or not to live in the community being planned. The disadvantage: it may be years before you live in cohousing!
• When you read the directory listings and websites of forming communities, you’ll see that some groups have regularly scheduled meetings; others apparently don’t, since they don’t tell you meeting times. Some have property; others don’t yet. Some are affiliated with well-known cohousing developers or architects; others apparently are not, as they don’t say so. These factors can give an indication how successful, or how far along, a core group may be.

—Diana Leafe Christian

Category: Find It

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