Elizabeth (Liz) Magill, NE Cohousing Summit Presenter
Why can't we all just get along?
Some percentage of people who join a cohousing community do so because they want everyone to "just get along". Idyllic images of not just knowing your neighbors, but also of really liking to hang out with your neighbors flutter through our heads.
And then we move in. Or maybe the first break with that image happens before move-in. Maybe its an email that sets it off, or something that happens with the kids and you have different views of what to do about it or even different views as to what happened.
“Move into community!” they said. “You’ll be so close with your neighbors!” they said. “Consensus is an empowering and relational way to make decisions.” they said. “We’ll laugh and play and dance together.”
So you are looking over the conference schedule and reading through all the amazing information you are going to receive in Saturday’s sessions. You are wondering whether it is worth the added time and expense to attend a half-day or full-day session on Friday. Here are my top five reasons for attending intensives in addition to the Saturday sessions.
Building Cohousing To Do List:
Find Land, Invite New Members, Plan (another) Info Meeting, Hire Architect . . .
For those creative and industrious people who are birthing brand new cohousing communities, the list can feel endless, so why would you add “Attend the NE Cohousing Summit”?
A storyteller, a photographer and an architect walk into a bar . . . or maybe it is a common house. They are joined by a teacher, a lawyer, a developer, a farmer, an activist, a mother, an artist, a grandchild, a musician, and a whole bunch of other cool people. They hug and laugh and reminisce and introduce themselves to each other. They teach each other new things and contemplate old problems. They are friendly, warm and so very wise. Every one of them is committed to living in community, to caring for others, and to sharing the resources they have.
What shall we discuss as we are forming our communities? Every forming community (I hope!) asks this question and communities that have already moved in give lots of different answers. Many of those answers are in the form of "I wish we'd resolved this" and "we decided x which was irrelevant and should have decided y which was important." All of those reflections are completely true, of course, but I don't think they get at the purpose for deciding things prior to move-in.
The purpose of discussing policies before move-in is to resolve as much as you can about your values before getting so many new members you can never agree on values.
“I don’t want to be a used car salesman.” This is the response I most often hear when I ask forming cohousing groups to describe their feelings around using sales techniques in their membership recruitment.
And I get it. We tend to stereotype sales people as sleazy movie car salesman: they pounce aggressively and they don’t listen. They leave us feeling coerced. We picture the guy to the left.
I just made my annual contribution of $100 to Cohousing.org. I do this every year because of the many benefits the organization has provided me: support, friendship, resources, and inspiration. Each year I choose ten organizations that are important to my life and my community, and I make a donation. To me, it’s a privilege and an obligation to give back to organizations I support.
Annie Lehman of PDX Commons & Coho/US Board Member
I recently returned from the Coho/US Regional Conference in Boulder, CO and I’m still high on the vitality that we shared the entire weekend. Wherever you looked, the almost 200 attendees were talking intently, meeting new people, sharing experiences, hopes, and dreams for the future. Plus it all felt positive, even when we discussed challenges, like managing conflict. What was evident all weekend was the “community” we all strive for - new, old, seeking, building, and living it. There was a fervent sense that this is what is needed right now. It was such a welcome and welcoming feeling.