The C word

I’ve been traveling a lot the past few months.  I’ve seen old friends and made new ones.  I met up with a friend, Claire, who visited me a few years ago. She had remembered, but I had forgotten, that we had talked about cohousing. I was excited to move there in the future and she knew all about it. Her mother had helped form one. Now I”m kicking myself – I should have asked to speak to her and get more details of what it is really like.  Her mother left because of divorce, selling the assets, etc. She lives nearby and stays in touch and still has friends there.

Then yesterday I made a new pal. I was over at an old friend (actually Rob who is in the Italy book in this blog).  He had a friend named Jesse over for drinks.. They asked me to tell them my story of woe.  I didn’t really want to, trying to leave it behind but I did a quick summary.

Both times, when I told the story yesterday and when I told Claire why I left, they both immediately said, “That sounds like a cult,”

Basically, the groupthink is one reason I left. The group went one way, a pretty dark direction which these pals agreed with me – not a reasonable way to think. I stood up to it and the focus was on me instead of the underlying issues.  So, it did feel like a cult.  

Any group can become toxic. Any group can become cult like. That’s why I will try to shift from my experience which is now officially over as a homeowner of cohousing, and share what I have learned in my research about cults (which verify what did happen, that the atmosphere was toxic and you were not allowed to question).

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, group think and cults, psychopathy, narcissicism, and personality disorders in cohousing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My cohousing timeline with a happy ending

Now that I signed the papers yesterday to sell my house to some new owners, I thought I would put together a timeline of my life with cohousing.

2011 – A local group did a presentation at the library about cohousing. Many people were there. I signed up right away and went to some of the potlucks but I saw it would take awhile, and a lot of money I didn’t have, so I left the group to wait.

2017 – I went back to the group. I knew my life was about to change. The little community I had with my sister around the corner (her kids were grown and moved away so I knew she’d leave soon – she just got her own house near a beach this year), and my mother down the street had terminal cancer. I was hoping she’d live a few more years but she knew it wasn’t long.

At the meeting I could see they were still a bit away and they said there was a cohousing actually building near by – the same distance away from the job I loved. I called them up.

January 2, 2018 – I went to the common meal of the cohousing group near by that had started moving dirt around for construction. I joined as a member.

2018- I went to the monthly plenary meetings and a common meal once a month.  They met weekly for common meals but it was too far for me. I joined the community life (fun) committee and we all made policies on pets and how we imagined we would run the place.

(my mother died in May)

Spring 2019 – the first families moved into their newly built houses. Some stayed in the common house waiting for their homes to be built.  We started paying dues in two tiers – those who live there and those waiting to move in.

August 16, 2019 – I moved into my new house.  I was finally part of a cohousing community.

March 2020 – We closed the Common House due to Covid and one person was still living there and wanted germs far away (understandably).  We had meetings outside and then on zoom.

June 2020 – there were meetings about the kid’s problematic behaviors and the parents weren’t getting along very well.  I started meetings with just the kids to use methods from Democratic/Sudberry Schools where they make the rules.  I tried to help.

June 29, 2020 – I made a decision to step in on a serious situation and most of the community hated my decision. Most started shunning me and one person said they didn’t want me to be a social pariah but they nor others talked to me publicly.

July 6, 2020 – After crying my eyes out for days (this was supposed to be my forever “family” and now I wasn’t allowed in), I rented a place right on the beach. It cost too much but I needed an bolt hole – a place for sanctuary and retreat. I figured I’d visit as much as I can – on the weekends and in the summer till it all blew over.

Aug 6, 2020 – we had a 9 hour zoom meeting with an outside mediator.  They had talked to everyone in the community (even the family that had moved out in part due to the situation  I tried to intervene in) and I thought we could do this!  I was wrong.  It became a consensus that I had done wrong and that was the only important issue.

I sent an email saying I was leaving permanently so they would stop focusing on me and work on the real issues (I don’t think that ever happened). But I knew I couldn’t live in a place where there was no on ramp for forgiveness and a place that shamed each other.  And no one spoke up even though some had personally told me they weren’t as upset about it as others.

Aug 2020 – I went back and forth to move out. Some were even shaming my kids so I knew it wasn’t a  good place for them either.  I had my youngest stay at a friend’s house and never sleep another night there.

Sept 2020 – moved out completely to the beach house.  

Oct 2020 – put my house on the market.

Nov 2020 – got two offers I choose the higher one but still would have lost money. Then they pulled out for some bogus reason of wanting to have their own edible farm (aren’t all farms edible?) but I respected that they didn’t want to live in that community. The second offer fell apart too.

I stupidly went to another zoom meeting with the same outside mediator. I was fulfilling one of their agenda items about how to tell future members the story of what had happened.  Everyone tried to blame me again and even jumped at one person who tried to defend me.  I realized it was useless – they would continue to use me as their boogeyman (woman) and never hear my truths.  The mediator seemed feckless, again.

Dec 2020 – my realtor friend said I should look for a place to live and not pay someone else’s mortgage. I doubted I could afford anything at the beach but one condo opened up (away from the beach and without a view but I can walk!)  I made an offer and  in order to get the loan, I had to rent out my unselling cohousing house.  I put an ad on craig’s list and found an amazing couple, without kids, to rent.

Jan 2021 – moved into my forever home by the beach. Great, fun neighbors.  

Feb 2022 – my teenage son moved across state and had a lawn that he had to take care of.  I asked one of the few pals left at the cohousing for my leaf blower that I had left behind. They said they couldn’t make the decision on their own – they had to ask the garden committee and get consensus. I was still bitter and didn’t want to donate anything to the community and just wanted it for my son. That was the last straw.   I decided I didn’t want consensus ruling over my life. I had already put my life into the hands of this social group and got judged and blamed, I didn’t want it financially or any way having any effect on my life anymore.

I told the renters I was going to put the house for sale but it probably won’t sell like last time – too many obstacles for people really wanting cohousing.

March 2022 – I was wrong!  The market had changed a lot and even those from all over the country will move into cohousing now. No more bogus reasons to not live there (believe me I heard it all last time – had to have a personal fireplace, no pets ever allowed to live there before, prefer to have a farm, etc).  Luckily the buyers agreed to wait a few months since I promised the renters it wouldn’t interrupt their lives quickly.  The buyers made an offer the day my realtor friend put it on MLS (they saw it through the community’s email blast).

June 2022 – renters moved out. They decided not to buy or even rent anymore in the community (that seemed never to really welcome them anyhow). They bought their own house.

I sign the papers and though the closing date is officially July 1st, it looks like I am free.

Free from emails about meetings and poll conditions.

Free from consensus.

Free from having any sort of reminder of that particular cohousing.

I emailed another former owner recently since I could’ve dropped by as I drove through their town. They said, since it’s been over a year since they sold their house, that they never think of that place at all. Now I can enjoy that thought process – freedom!

Posted in beach life, marketing in cohousing, moving in and out of cohousing, selling house, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

False Promises but realistic expectation of cohousing

The marketing makes lots of promises with cohousing but there is only one guarantee- you get a house. You buy it or rent it, but that’s the only thing for sure.

Other things you will probably get:

HOA membership/fees. They expect participation in governance and helping to maintain the property but how to “enforce” that is questionable. Yet, most go in wanting to participate.

You MAY get a common house but not all places have built it yet, or it is falling apart, or is still in budget talks, etc.

You will probably have some sort of common gardening area and then each place negotaites on the water bill and taking care of the plots.

You may also get a pool, trampoline, and/or playground.  

You may also get a workshop, gym, yoga space.

It all depends on how the communities negotiated common space and budgeted.  

It’s all about group decisions.

So, you may get friends, you may just have friendly neighbors.  You may love it, you might not. But the only thing for sure is that you will be able to live in a house/unit.  (that’s another thing, they really prefer you odn’t buy in as an investment property to rent out or only stay half the year).

I wish I had more realistic expectations. Good luck!

Posted in marketing in cohousing, moving in and out of cohousing, selling house, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sweet Privacy

I have some next door neighbors that love privacy. One is super shy so I respect his need for space. We’ve had a few short conversations and I know that he prefers to be alone (doesn’t even come to the condo social events).

On the other side, they only come for a few weeks in the year. When I met them last summer they were so sweet and talkative. This year they seem to want a lot of alone time.  I see one of them walking quickly by and toward the beach. The other was about to go out with their dog and saw me with mine and turned around. I figured that was due to the dogs barking. But today I was up early and released a spider when the beach walker came out. I said a big hello, thinking I finally can catch up again. Nope, just Good Morning and they walked on.

For me, it brought back bad memories of being shunned at cohousing. Are they mad at me? Are the decorations I put out in front of my door bothering them? I know the plant is looking well but is that terrible?  I”m still trying to keep some plants alive.

No, it’s just I”m still traumatized from cohousing. There you are expected to be social with your neighbors. Even introverts try to at least do a small conversation and push out of their comfort zones.  I have to remember that those days are over. Everyone here can have as much time alone as they want. No expectations. Which is nice, because it was so obvious when I stepped on a booby trap and was purposefully shunned. People going inside when I was outside. People talking to my next door neighbor and pretending I didn’t exist (again when I was outside) and then telling their children to go play elsewhere when they wanted to show me a caterpillar. Even after we all said politically correct things in front of the mediator, total shunning.

So, I’ll stop thinking its about me and let my neighbors be. Just like I enjoy my privacy now.

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, privacy, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Scapegoat in the Family

One of my pet peeves is when people in cohousing call it a family. It isn’t but if you want to go there you have to be honest. There are all types of families. Some are the Brady Bunch and others are the Manson Family (Ok, that’s a cult but cohousing can become toxic and many communes have become or were cults).

I found the article below about scapegoating in families. Very interesting and luckily, that wasn’t my family. But now I see that some of the people in my community might have been part of a family where this happened and how the other children have to be quiet for survival. However, ICs are run by adults so they should act like them and try to be the amazing communities they promise to strive to be.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/202104/how-toxic-families-choose-child-scapegoat

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, group think and cults, other blogs and websites, psychopathy, narcissicism, and personality disorders in cohousing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest Blog Post – I’m not the only one!

Whenever I think I just had a “bad experience” as two cohousers have told me, I think of my friend all the way across the country. She moved into a cohousing that is over 10 years old, so mine being new wouldn’t be an excuse there. She found herself the target of harassment by someone who has harassed before (especially single moms) and that no one spoke up to it or stopped it. That is a familiar story to me – being so afraid to work together and stop bad behavior is what made me choose to leave and of course the behavior continued and others left. 

My friend has left and others had left before her due to the harassment and a few households just sold their places and got out from her cohousing.  She lived there two and a half years (starting in 2020 and recently moving out).  She moved in there because she wanted to live in community while raising kids. “ I love my kids and other’s kids and enjoyed the fun times when we were all on the lawn or running through sprinklers or when I was out playing with the kids (no one else spent the amount of time I did with the kids but I enjoyed it before I started being verbally attacked). I also wanted to work with people who were dedicated to conflict resolution and connection and figuring out how to be in community. I had studied and been part of communities and restorative justice and conflict resolution and I was excited to live it. Unfortunately, some signed the agreements but never intended to keep them so when conflict arose those parties did not participate as they’d agreed to. And the community I was in had no consequences, no rules or laws they followed to follow up on harassment or violations. They assumed all would follow agreements.”

Here is her story:

Feb 2020

There was a small group of community members who were  invited by Guy and his wife  to their house to hear a proposal. All guests were parents, two parents of small children (1-10 years old), one a parent of a teen girl and a college aged girl. We were told it was a secret meeting and not to tell anyone else about it. I was scolded by Guy and his wife, Nina, for telling the babysitter where I was going. Some other guests brought up concerns about the secrecy that were dismissed by the couple. The meeting was their idea about a racial equity training they planned for a handful of us. After a presentation we were asked how we felt about participating in this training and I agreed with others in support of the concept and I stated my concern as I wanted to care for the community that had been working hard on organizing a similar training that included all community members. Guy accused me of manipulating others with my emotions. I disagreed and he got louder and louder with his accusations until he was yelling at me, verbally berating me, accusing me of things I wasn’t doing. I told him he wasn’t hearing me and I wasn’t doing those things, I was merely answering their question of how I felt about the training. He continued until stopped by someone else.

2. Soon after the above, in the same meeting,Guy and Nina  asked if we had questions. I asked if they wanted us to pay personally or did they want the community to fund the training since that’s how trainings had been funded in the past.Guy  accused me of blocking his training by bringing up finances. When I said I wasn’t doing that and that I run all of my household’s finances and need to know the possible cost . He again got louder in his accusations and yelled at me including accusing me of more things. Once again he didn’t stop or lower his voice until interrupted by someone else.

I requested multiple times that Guy and Nina meet with me to talk about the conflict above as resolving conflict verbally (sometimes known in this cohousing community as a “clearing”) is written in our community agreements as the first step (see item 14.9 “Dispute Resolution” in Declaration of Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions attached, referred to as CC&Rs from here on out). I offered for us to do a mediation if that is preferred. They refused.

March 2020 

A neighbor was playing music for his 6 year old daughter on the common house porch, I was out on the patio with my children doing exercises. Guy  comes out of his yard and approaches me angrily and demands loudly for the music to be turned down. The neighbor, from around the corner, hears him and turns it off. Guy accuses me of playing music loudly and being inconsiderate. He gets louder and louder. He accuses me of not knowing the agreements of the community, not knowing ordinances around music, being a bad neighbor, being inconsiderate and uneducated on the law. He speaks so quickly he gives no space for me to respond. After about 10 minutes of me listening quietly with my head nodding kindly and him getting louder and angrier, he leans in towards me even more and he says, “you can go play music in your backyard”. The neighbor’s daughter  is next to me, she’s been crying since he first had the music turned off since she had been planning her dance party for hours. She heard him yelling at me and came over at some point. I say to her, “Guy says you can play music in your backyard”. Guy then yells, “that does not mean you can blast music in your backyard!”. I tell him he needs to talk to her father about it because it’s not my music and he needs to stop yelling at me. He accuses me of not caring by not telling the father for him. Guy adds many other accusations and demeaning, condescending words. I tell him that that’s his opinion. He gets louder and louder and is eventually yelling at me and I say loudly to be heard, “you’re not hearing me, stop yelling at me”. He does not listen to me telling him to stop and continues to yell at me until someone else intervenes. The children (including my two small children who are 1 and 5) witness it all.

April 26, 2020

I ask the community to intervene if Guy  yells at me and to ask him to stop and come to me to discuss things with respect and care.

May 8, 2020

Guy  complains via the community email to the whole community about my refrigerator that is temporarily on the porch while I am repairing and remodeling our newly purchased unit. (Our community has agreements around complaints and the use of email. We are supposed to go to individuals and discuss our wants or worries, not use email). One member tells him to stop bullying me.

May 18, 2020 

Guy emails the community email list about music in the common spaces including (this is just part of it as it’s very long): “A few weeks ago a conflict emerged between someone playing music on the common house porch and nearby residents. I approached an adult seemingly (to me) with the group, and asked that the music be turned down. What ensued was an argument…”

And: “I believe the ‘use a private yard for outside music’ option, or some other activity entirely, would look a lot more preferable. And, if someone did still want to play music in the common area–which I think is perfectly fine, judging from our holding a wedding reception there–and anyone said ‘No, that won’t work for me,’ they would just move on to doing something else–or take the music into their own private yard (or some other venue, which is what Nina and I would have done, with no animosity whatsoever).” 

Our community has agreements around music, quiet hours and that if we would like music turned down we go ask for it to be turned down, I have always complied with this and even turned other children’s music down when asked. I am outside with the kids a lot and kids that aren’t my own often play music so anytime Guy has asked I ask them to turn it down or off. His email does not follow our guideline or process for making new agreements. Our process includes bringing new agreement ideas to the whole community in a meeting and discussing it, not emailing one’s opinions. No one responded or agreed publicly to follow his requests.

May 2020

There are multiple meetings around the subject of music to which all members were invited. Guy did not come to any of them. I attended them all. No one had an issue with my music playing or anyone else’s including the children’s. I thoughtfully asked if anyone was willing to listen and see how music sounded from Guy’s  house. No new agreements were made about music, just some requests. The music agreements we already had in place remained in place which included the allowance of spontaneous music playing in the common area when it’s not quiet hours, the allowance of people to play music in their homes and outside, the allowance of children to play music as allowed by their parents and when asked that people will turn music down if reasonable, if someone has an issue with music they go to the person playing the music or the parents of that child.

May 20, 2020 

Guy complains via email to the whole community that my children are climbing his tree. I express confusion as to what tree as my youngest can’t climb trees and my oldest didn’t climb trees at the time. The only tree I’d seen children climb I called “the big one” and is agreed upon by the community to be ok to climb. Guy  emails to everyone, “I appeal to everyone else here to persuade (me) that children should not attempt to climb the “big one”. I was trying not to ‘out’ anyone, but, alas, I now have to go on and report that the only children I have seen trying to climb the tree are hers. I asked them not to do it when I saw it. I am now asking publicly–please tell all the children to not try to climb or hang on or otherwise place their weight upon the “big one” . Thanks, Guy”. 

My children never climbed that tree nor did he ever speak to them about it. He may have addressed other people’s children.

May 20, 2020

I reply to the above telling him he ignored my email and must be mistaking other kids for mine (lots of small kids here with the same color hair ) and I ask Guy to stop harassing me and to stop emailing me.

May 24 2020 

He sends an email to me and the whole community violating my request to not be emailed by him.

August 11, 2020

Guy calls the police and makes a report on me for alleged music played in my house as well as outdoors. The police come and find no music being played as I wasn’t playing music. They tell me they could fine me $440 as an initial step if music is found to be too loud but they found no music being played at all. That day a neighbor’s child had been playing music on his hoverboard. I had played no music. Guy  again blamed me for someone else’s behavior and music playing. And Guy has recommended (see email quoted above) we play music in our houses and in private areas so why he’d call the police about music played indoors or in yards I don’t know. We have agreements around music that no one including me and the child on his hoverboard had broken. The police find no evidence of music being played and stated they have never heard music being played at an unreasonable level by me.

August 12, 2020

I asked Nina iin person if she called the police about me allegedly playing music, she said she didn’t. I ask her if  Guy did, she says in a condescending, rhetorical tone: “I’m not surprised someone would call the cops on you, why would somebody do it, that’s the real question you should be asking”. Then she shuts her door without answering.

Sep 2020

A letter is sent from our HOA members to the police in support of me, sharing about my unwavering adherence to music (and all) community agreements.

Dec 2, 2020 

Guy is caught hiding behind a partially drawn shade in his upstairs bedroom while secretly videotaping our kids and other kids who are on my private porch and on the front lawn listening to music being played by the kid on his hover board. One father gestures for him to come talk when he sees him video taping. Guy sees him gesturing, video tapes more, then pulls the shade fully closed and never addresses the issue with us. A child that is not ours sees Guy videoing him as well and seems shaken when sharing with us.

December 30, 2020

I send a letter to Guy requesting him to not video tape our kids and to destroy any videos he has. I hear nothing back.

December 30, 2020

I send a “Community Incident Report” informing others of what has occurred.

January, 2021

The HOA president, comes to me and tells me that Nina and Guy asked him to be a liaison between us and to talk to me about arranging a professional mediation between the three of us, which they want funded by the community. He explains that they want to be heard by me on the language I am using describing them. He gives me a paper describing the process for asking for funds for mediation. I am not wanting funds for mediation yet I am told this is the process I need to follow. Eventually they have multiple people involved on a team that’s running this and they switch people multiple times and repeatedly ask me questions I don’t want to answer that waste my time and energy and cause me stress. They ask questions like, what do you want from the mediation? How many sessions do you want? What’s the goal? Will the community fund it? I don’t want funding so feel forced into a dysfunctional process solely to fund NIna and Guy. Our CC&Rs state that people must fund their portion of mediations if they do mediation. This process they were asking me to do went against our CC&Rs. Due to the fact Nina and Guy refused mediation a year earlier and the situation had been escalated by them to a point where I felt me and my family were in danger this process was harmful to me and my family. At the time I had not been given the CC&Rs and did not realize this process was not in them. No one on the HOA spoke out against the process, they supported it happening and even participated.

March 8, 2021

I send an email to the HOA president saying I’m willing to do a mediation that involves Guy taking responsibility for calling the police, video taping my children and other aggressions like yelling at me. I express I’d like it to include us making agreements about those types of actions so they are stopped and my family can be safe from threats and invasion of privacy. No one responds.

April 3, 2021

At the Plenary community/HOA meeting Nina shares during the “clearings updates” segment (where we update on “clearing” conversations we have had) that she and Guy are pursuing mediation with me and have gotten no action back. I say that this is an inappropriate discussion to have with the whole community since it is not a completed clearing and the information she shared is inaccurate. I had responded to them via the liaison they chose. They didn’t check with him and should have done their due diligence and gotten consent from me before speaking of our process. Guy continued to talk over me, ignoring my request. The facilitator interrupted him and told him to stop multiple times until he finally did. In a debrief with the process team at the time, the female facilitator is admonished verbally by another man at the meeting  for interrupting Guy. He also angrily admonishes me for interruptingGuy. The one other member there, a woman, sits by and says nothing. No one else is present.

April 2021

I wrote an email to the community forwarding my email of March 8 with an update on the facts and what I had sent to the HOA president, as well as information on the HOA’s responsibility around dealing with harassment and bullying. I also requested Nina and Guy  get my consent to use my name at plenary meetings.

May 2021

I get a letter that the HOA president has bowed out of the liaison role and two other women who are representing Guy (one was the HOA Vice President I believe) want to know what type of mediation I am willing to do.

May 2021

I email an explanation again and refer to the previous email stating that I am willing to start by participating in a restorative mediation where Guy takes responsibility for his actions and we make agreements that keep my family safe from threats. If that happens we can look into other mediations. I never hear back.

August 2021

During the HOA meeting I am ignored by the facilitator(HOA Vice President I believe), and then she interrupts and silences me during a discussion Guy initiates about an email I sent where I was getting clarity on what team was in charge of the topic of training. Multiple people including Guy had shared about it but I was not allowed to. I leave the meeting. Other community members are upset by the mistreatment of me at this meeting.

August 2021

I tell the community I will be trying to attend less meetings for my safety, to not be in the same room as Nina and Guy  and to not be silenced by them and others.

Around August 2021

I request CC&Rs and By Laws for our HOA.

September 2021

I attended the HOA meeting due to the discussion on changing our legal set up. I and another ask for ways to be safe, are people willing to record the meeting or email when a decision is coming up. It is recommended by the facilitator, that those who want can attend via zoom without participating, just listening. I do this and many (including Guy who’s running the zoom call) complain about this and my camera being off. The facilitator comes over to my house during the break, comes inside and asks me to turn my camera on because it makes people uncomfortable and many feel unsafe. They don’t ask about me and my experience at all. Finally she says, we won’t force you to do it, you do have a choice. She was acting like  she was going to force me to and she seemed to realize it. So I say, if I have a choice then I’m not turning it on.

September 2021

I ask to be taken off the cohousing thread. I am taken off. I still have my personal email that all have used and have access to to send important information to.

October 2021

Guy suggests to two other members of the process team to kick me and another HOA member out of our HOA/plenary meeting if we don’t turn our zoom cameras on and show our faces. They agree to this. In the notes from that process team meeting it says “We decided to ask attendees to keep their cameras on all the time. This, in order to know if you are present or not, as well as being able to see people and their reactions, similar to attending a plenary in person. (This vs. turning it off  briefly for personal hygiene issues, chewing, etc.) We discussed that perhaps someone may need to turn off their camera for a few minutes, but that if it lasts a long time, 15-20 mins with no communication (chat eg), the host will let them out of the zoom meeting.”

October 2021

I emailed the community the law on HOA meetings and that it is illegal to kick a member out of a meeting for not having a zoom camera on. Every member here in the community is on the HOA so we all have rights to attend.

October 2021

I emailed the community that, in accordance with the law, they must post meeting notes and when meetings are and how to access zoom in a public location so all can access them. No one does this for the next HOA meeting. I am not informed of the next meeting or given the zoom link by Guy, the organizer or  the process team.

October 2021

At the plenary meeting (a neighbor sends me the zoom link) Guy is controlling zoom and can kick me out if he chooses. The organizer threatens to enforce this and allow Guy to kick me out if my camera isn’t on. She says she doesn’t want to have to enforce my camera being off. She says schools do that and she doesn’t want to. She requests I be kind and caring of others and turn my camera on. The facilitator says I need to explain to the whole group why my camera is off as it’s inconsiderate. I don’t respond. Another member expresses the anxiety she’s feeling from hearing these words. Another member, at a later point says she wants to pursue a grievance policy since the word “harassment” has been used. Another says she’ll send an email with the CC&Rs they found.

October 2021

The CC&Rs are finally sent to me and include rules Nina and Guy and  the HOA have broken (see above in this report), like requiring a member to meet face to face when there’s a conflict resolution needed, then getting mediation that they both pay for equally.  Nina and Guy refused to do that, then escalated aggressions and violations towards me, then had the HOA president tell me I had to participate in a process to get them funding to do a mediation with me. After multiple people with HOA titles (president, Vice President) and power started participating and asking for inappropriate things that go against the CC&Rs I said I won’t participate in this process for  Nina and Guy to be funded. Now I see the CC&Rs supported that when I originally asked for it (see 14.9 “Dispute Resolution” in CC&Rs). The HOA is also required to follow up on harassment and did not do that when I asked for help because I was being harassed. The HOA should stop bullying and stop anyone making illegal threats to kick me or anyone else out of meetings for not having a camera. It hasn’t. This violates multiple rights including my right to “quiet enjoyment” of my property.

October 2021

A community member and HOA member, shares that Guy and NIna admitted to her that Guy had videotaped my children while hiding in their upstairs room behind a shade and that she told them it was “creepy” which they argued against.

November 2021

3 days notice for the process team meeting was not given by the process team which includes Guy.

November 2021

The process team request all cameras be on for the next HOA meeting.

November 2021

No zoom info is sent to me before the HOA meeting by Guy. I request it, it is given to me by someone else after the meeting starts.Guy (who set it up) does not include a call in info. Half an hour after the meeting start time someone changes the settings to allow calls and sends a call in number so I can access the meeting. I missed 30 mins of the meeting due to him shutting off call in options.

December 2021

A doodle poll is sent out to set up HOA meeting times for 2022, it is not sent to me. I email the community to post business information and meetings in a public place that all can access. Some  email  the cohousing thread that everyone is required to be on the email list if they want information. I ask to see documentation that shows that and I say that I don’t believe they can require us to be on an email list that is not solely for business but is mostly used for excessive, non-business discussions. It has also been used to bully people (Guy used it to bully me) so I opted to not be on it since the harassment against me was never addressed and email was a tool Guy used against me. One member  says residents are required to have a “reasonable” way of getting information and she thinks the email is reasonable. I tell her I think it is not reasonable to be on an email that allows bullying and harassment of neighbors and excessive non-business discussions. 

December 2021

The HOA meetings for 2022 are scheduled by the process team and emailed to the community without ever sending me the requested poll or getting my input.

December 2021

I asked the process team again for the scheduling poll and am finally sent it via email. I ask if the process team will be redoing the schedule and if input is being considered or just being sent to me for information. I am told multiple people were not checked in about scheduling and multiple requests were not reflected in the poll from the process team.

December 2021

I moved out due to the bullying and negligence.

January 2022

No one posted or emailed me the link to the plenary meeting on Jan 8, 2022. I could not attend without the link.

I sold my house recently and this was my last email to the community:

I am filing a detailed police report and timeline in regards to the harassment I was a target of for over two years at This Cohousing Community. If anyone wants to read it let me know and we can make an appointment (I will not be giving out copies, you can read mine). It includes the main perpetrator as well as others who enabled, joined in, threatened to enforce illegal action or had me participate in “policies” that added to the perpetrator’s harm (for example, membership and the HOA board having me participate in a painful, time consuming community procedure that was purely to get the perpetrator funding from the community which directly goes against the community’s CC&Rs that state that each party must pay for themselves in a professional mediation). It also includes those who interrupted and/or spoke up. I have a lot of gratitude for those who supported safety and who spoke up despite being scared. I am sad more people did not speak out and that my family living there became so unsafe I had to leave. Every time I was targeted in public it was one of your children’s actions I got accused of. Not one incident was due to my actions or my children’s actions. Yet not one parent stepped up to the perpetrator. This Cohousing Community is legally responsible for keeping people safe in their homes and shared front yards and investigating harassment claims (my report includes all the laws and I have emailed them previously so every current member is aware of this). I hope no one has to go through what I went through. I hope women and children outside are protected, not targeted and harassed. Unfortunately I am not the first single woman to be targeted here. Multiple professionals I spoke to recommended suing but if one doesn’t want to take that route (and at this time I don’t want to do that) they recommend making police reports so that future victims can be protected since the HOA is not taking the protective steps they are legally required to. You can also get a restraining order which I should have done early on.

Bye!

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, control and decision making in cohousing, diversity and cohousing, group think and cults, marriage and cohousing, moving in and out of cohousing, parenting, privacy, psychopathy, narcissicism, and personality disorders in cohousing, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Book review on Condominium history

High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century

by  Michale Gordon Lasner

I read the book and liked learning the history of condos. It seems similar ideas to cohousing were part of condominiums’ history. Here are the quotes I liked.

“People identify closely, personally, and intensely with their homes and choosing one can be as highly personal complex, and arbitrary as finding a mate” (p 16

No wonder  it feels like divorce when one leaves cohousing because it was a house and a group of people.

On page 26  the author wrote about the marketing of real estate:

“Real estate business is interpreted only by self serving real estate brokers..while newspapers all had competent writers on financial matters, few well informed impartial real estate angles are in evidence.  News and comment are based on everlasting optimistic press releases by real estate brokers and developers with a financial stake in optimism.”  

He  was actually  quoting Charles Abrams from the 1940s but the same is true today. There are so many puff pieces about cohousing. Few pieces ever do a true journalistic investigation. I can’t wait for the day when a reporter contacts me for my experience and how I feel for all the good news I had heard. I’ve reached out to podcasters and newspaper writers but that’s been after the fact. Please, spread the word!!!!  I’m hear – loud and ashamed for falling for cohousing!

On page 43 , the author talks about Hubert and his co op idea. Some thought of it as  utopian but he wanted the relationships to be strictly business and a critique of NYC housing, not some social movement. And being exclusive helped make the property more valuable.

Very interesting. He was onto something.

On Page 150 one group found that people bought condos/coops to have playmates for their children who aren’t delinquents and there were tight knit groups but homogeneous.

Page 186

Condos have problems – dependent on compliance.  You  can sue the owner but there are no rights to remove anyone. Physical decay is also a problem … doing special assessments is hard on people with fixed incomes.

A cohousing can be difficult if no one follows the agreements and looks like they take longer to do any maintenance of the buildings than most condos.

On page 197

Condo owners are not used to being managers but apathy is rare.  It is hard to run the condo.

Same with cohousing.

Page 205

A Sociologist said townhomes in 70s would end loneliness, smaller houses, less insolation than suburbia

A familiar story to cohousing!

Page 240

Some thought  townhomes have lack of privacy, but that fear was wrong and residents found a utopia.  Didn’t have to drive to play dates or shovel snow or do lawns

So some loved their condos, just as some like their cohos. Or, I would argue, just live in a regular condo or HOA and not the added work of a coho.

Page 277

The results versus the promises that were promoted about condo living::

Self governance was impossible. People fought.

Even with a management company, the condos were  insecure with bad economies. It can ruin the middle class.

Collective homeownership sold to a public unwilling to do mutual obligations

The places didn’t always pay for upkeep

Sold as carefree living without the self-government responsibilities being emphasized – not married to lawnmower. they had traded maintenance responsibilities for obligations to a community governing process which violates the idea of private property

Read the book!  Very interesting and lots of pictures.

Posted in living in community, marketing in cohousing, other blogs and websites, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Elders are All Right

Don’t believe all the hype that only cohousing is the way to not be lonely as you age. In fact, being among younger generations can be quite a challenge as their social and emotional skills vary.

Posted in other blogs and websites, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Johnny Depp/Amber Heard PTSD, cohousing, and me

I was listening to court TV as I fell asleep the other night. One of the psychologists was talking.  She was describing how Amber Heard had PTSD.  She said that when incidents keep popping up in your head when you don’t want them to – that’s a sign of PTSD.  She also said that Amber acted out because of her PTSD.

That’s me. I acted out of pain and hurt, after my cohousing community decided to shun and punish me for trying to help in an awful situation.  Having a group decide you suck made me have PTSD.  This blog has helped. Being at the beach has helped. Time is helping. And soon, I will be 100% free of my house and have no connection to that place anymore and I think that will help too.

It’s my fault – I expected a community that would respect everyone. That would care for everyone. I shouldn’t have put my trust in a group. I shouldn’t have believed all the PR. I saw this week an article about a forming cohousing and they said it would be a place for “caring”.  Yep, heard that before.  See how that pans out, or not.

My cohousing made sure that they put an ankle bracelet on me of shame and punishment. How dare I try to stop something? How dare I make a decision on my own? How dare I make what they consider a huge mistake? And even after having a “professional” Intentional Community experienced mediator (snake oil anyone?), I didn’t see they would ever forgive me. And those that did or never thought it was that huge an infraction, never spoke up publicly. I left. Best decision I ever made.

My cohousing community still won’t discuss it and the effects of scapegoating have on future members and atmosphere. They like to keep black holes.

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, grief and grieving, moving in and out of cohousing, psychopathy, narcissicism, and personality disorders in cohousing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are Harry Potter fans too nerdy for cohousing?

One time I was talking to a neighbor about an idea I had. We could hold a Harry Potter festival at the cohousing and get lots of people interested. At that time, houses weren’t selling and it was hard to find new members. (since then the housing market has gone crazy and even in cohousing, you can sell quickly which has helped all the members who have decided ot move).

The neighbors response was, and I quote, “We don’t want all those Harry Potter nerds living here.”

I laughed and thought, “that ship has sailed.” Or should I say, “that hippogriff has flown away.”  I love Harry Potter and have had success running camps with that theme and seen towns throw parties with that theme and being overwhelmed with traffic.  My feelings were not hurt and I”m still trying to figure out how Harry Potter became associated with nerds. Is it the glasses?  My impression was it got lots of kids to read. The movies sell millions of tickets. The amusement parks cost too much but people go (me included). So, it can’t just be “nerds”.  

I fell in love with the books when I decided to see what all the hoopla was about and wanted my kids to read it before the movies came out. Then I laughed my head off at the humor in the books (not always in the movies which focus more on the adventure) and I was hooked myself. Then I tried to beat the kids like my niece who seemed to know every detail and kept re-reading or listening to the books (also with my children as they grew at different times) so that, finally, I think I can keep up a conversation at least about Harry Potter.

However, at cohousing, it does tend to attract “nerds”.  Most cohos are filled with white people so that is high on the nerd stereotype and many are in some sort of engineering or software industry (also a nerd stereotype).  The truth is, we are in the age of the nerd. Forget hanging out with the jock in high school, they will go nowhere. It’s nerds that have given us facebook, microsoft, and this blog I am writing on.

Also, my cohousing wasn’t seeming so “cool” anyhow. I was looking forward to listening to music playing on the porches. One neighbor was a great guitarist and I liked their music.  But once when a group tried to jam together, they looked sad. It was three middle aged men, two with electronic keyboards.  It wasn’t what I imagined. Before coho I had a neighbor play one time on his porch and he could rock. In fact, he was offered a big contract but turned it down to raise his family and now that they are grown, he is literally winning contests and back to being a rising rock star. That’s what I imagined. Not this depressing scene of men trying to be back in their glory days of high school.

Another great reason not to live in an intentional community, you can spend your time with people and groups you really want to – even if they are Hogwarts nerds!

Donny Osmond makes a guest appearance
Posted in diversity and cohousing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment