Since it is that time of year, I feel I should put my holiday ideas under the tree. I’m thinking of someone I know who visited a cohousing community years ago. She wanted to raise her children there. The tour guide assured her that they were multicultural. Then led her into the common house and saw the largest Christmas tree outside of Times Square. She saw the disconnect on what people were saying – we got diversity covered, and how they were really behaving – Christmas everywhere!
She also didn’t like how they pretty much dismissed her concerns about child care. She asked who would take her kids to the doctor if she was stuck at work and how everyone found child care. They gave a vague answer of we will work it out. She didn’t like the answers when they expected her to shuck out lots of clams to buy a house.
She chose not to live there.
After my community erupted in an unforeseen conflict I spoke to someone who was once a member but is a founder at another cohousing which is still in the pre-construction stage. I wanted to warn her of what can happen so they will not fall into the same pitfalls. One thing she remembered from her time with us was how one person said that we would love each other enough to not worry about conflicts. She noticed the vague ideas instead of concrete procedures. I laughed. I remembered that conversation and that person ended up being a key player in the blow up.
So, every community is different but the more details you know the better. Watch how people act, not what they say. That Christmas tree showed my friend that she wouldn’t have enough control over how her children would be raised in that cohousing community. She saw she was not a good fit. I wish I was as tuned in before getting a mortgage but I learned the hard way.
Happy Belated Hannukah and Christmas and today starts Kwanzaa so Happy Kwanzaa and I hope you have a healthy, happy, honest New Year!