No real commitments to social bonding

I found this blog post on someone’s experience in cohousing. Perfect timing. We are having huge health issues in our household and I wonder what it would’ve been like at cohousing. Now I have more verification that leaving was the best thing for us.-

https://medium.com/@exvie1968/leaving-songaia-a-cohousing-cautionary-tale-931c90242543

And another article:

https://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol2/vol2_no2_dialogue_ecovillages_PRINTABLE.htm

I also found a video of someone who was looking into cohousing and eco village. Very interesting:

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
This entry was posted in autism and (dis)abilities, marketing in cohousing, moving in and out of cohousing, other blogs and websites, selling house, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to No real commitments to social bonding

  1. Flower says:

    I’ve read the articles and watched the video. In fact she has more than one video. I have some thoughts about them as well. Have you tried to reach out to any of these people? Tell them that you have a blog, especially the first article in Medium? It would be interesting to see more of the story. I regret that you are having health issues in your household. I hope you feel better soon.

  2. CJ says:

    Yes! I sent an email but looks like it may be an older posting so who knows if I’ll hear back or not. The first seems anonymous but still haunts me how they were tossed aside when their child was sick. Pretty ironic since washing hands and being health conscious became the only thing talked about during COVID! Of course every cohousing dealt with it differently but there were plenty of views of when and how to open the Common House and how to socialize.

    • Flower says:

      The first article that is on Medium that is anonymous–I found a review on yelp that led to the article that you posted. I clicked on the name and it says Cyndi T from Bothell, WA. Here’s where it led me: https://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=3qZZHWOeRYGWW0Pa4uWIgg
      I think there is a button that says send message too. Maybe you could try that to contact her. It’s worth a try. All they can do is ignore your attempts to contact her, but I wonder if she would allow you to reprint the article on your website?

      Yes, I noted that too and they invested quite a few years in the community. I have more comments about the article–actually all of them. It would be great if they were willing to open up more about their experiences here on your site.

    • Flower says:

      “The first seems anonymous but still haunts me how they were tossed aside when their child was sick. Pretty ironic since washing hands and being health conscious became the only thing talked about during COVID!”

      I’ve found behaviors like that to be very common, because it isn’t all about them and their lives were not at risk. It demonstrates a lack of empathy and their sick child didn’t impact them personally, so they reacted to what felt like an inconvenience and an imposition. I don’t agree with the behavior, but I find it so typical and narrow-minded. It is another reason why I don’t like group behaviors. Some people have accused me of being pessimistic. I hold a view of people as imperfect and limited, which I believe is realistic.

  3. CJ says:

    Excellent sleuth work! I sent an email. Since it’s through Yelp, who knows how long until she sees it. I find messages on apps accidentally all the time and usually way past the sent date!

    • Flower says:

      I like that word sleuth! I wish more people were open about their experiences. I’ve noted in abstracts that people do not feel free to speak up, which leads to the question of WHY. I also ran a search for reviews otherwise it wouldn’t have occurred to me to look there, but so many people feel compelled to leave reviews. I don’t leave reviews myself. I am interested in abstracts and critiques, but those are usually long.

  4. CJ says:

    I leave some reviews but get overburdened by all the surveys whenever you go somewhere. However I found out that the car dealership listened to those who did do the surveys and it was lopsided results that ended up making a lot of changes that most of the non-survey responders didn’t like.

    • Flower says:

      That’s interesting. It’s unfortunate that the car dealership didn’t realize that survey’s could skew results and not be representative of their clientele. There are a lot of people who are not comfortable taking surveys for a host of reasons. My distrust of government, institutions (colleges) as well as business has only further eroded given our political climate. Anyone who has taken college courses in statistics knows how easily the results can be manipulated.

      • CJ says:

        Yes, statistics are useful to everyone apparently.

      • Flower says:

        Yes, or you make no mention of them and don’t keep records like the Mary Garden article that you link to above–the high turnover rate is not reported and there is no mention of any difficulties. So the difficulties and conflicts are either hidden or dismissed and glossed over.

  5. Flower says:

    The Mary Garden article, Leaving Utopia is thorough and covers all the areas that I would find concerning. There was a lot of good information there.

    I found this interesting, “”…the turnover in most is extraordinary high, though this is rarely if ever reported. There is no mention of this on the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) website, nor the websites of various communities. There is also no mention of any difficulties. Hilder Jackson, one of the founders of GEN, even warned me not to write about the problems and conflicts of eco-villages: “I would be careful in bringing them to the general public which is all too eager to go against anything new like eco-villages. In the big society they are hidden between rules and courts of law”. But I disagree. Shouldn’t the full picture be given, the pros and the cons? Shouldn’t people be warned as so to the pitfalls?”

    And here last line of the articles, “These places are just another place to live – they will suit some people and certainly won’t suit others. There would be far less resentment amongst those who finally do leave, if they had been told the truth at the outset. And maybe some wouldn’t have gone there in the first place.”

  6. Flower says:

    Other quotes from the Mary Garden article that caught my eyes was this, “You get to know people to a certain degree and then you realise you can only relate to a certain level.” Chris now regarded the community as dysfunctional because of the way she thought the place was run and mismanaged and some of the types of people who are attracted there.”

    And this:

    “But when I asked another Jarlanbah resident what was the one thing he would be glad to be away from if he left, he said community bullies! This is seldom articulated but is a very widespread problem, exacerbated in part because people are “trying to get along” and in some respects are willing to play “happy families”.”

    You experienced the same situation or you’ve written about bullies. You can encounter those types of people everywhere, but I would think it could be far worse given that you live in such close proximity. If there are preconceived ideas of what living in community will be like, then much of that is fostered by the marketing on those community websites. Then there is the issue of selection criteria and according to the article it sounds like there is NONE. That’s a huge red flag. And the author is right as I would go in the first place as I see no social benefit.

    I think the links that you offer here would be good as single posts. I think I saw her article previously, but forgot to write it down. It’s well written and I’m glad that you posted a link to it.

  7. CJ says:

    I love the Mary Garden article. Did I post it? I will again since there is so much truth there. I have had that pressure too – don’t talk about the negative side. It’s that fear of what outsiders think but those who want to be insiders should know the risks at least. My place was the same – fake looking and acting happy people and fear of outsiders more than just deal with reality.
    When I got a new job, I had to do a workshop on workplace environment and I thought – this is where I live. But like the article says, there is nothing in place to help with that unlike at work or school. And no escape – it’s where you live. I shut all my curtains and snuck in and out of my house since I was lucky and had a back door that was close to the parking. That’s when it dawned on me how homes can be refuge from the world but I was feeling like a fugitive since I needed refuge from the place where I lived!
    I was thinking of taking a lot of our comments and making it into a post if that’s okay with you?

    • Flower says:

      From the Mary Garden article, ,”Unfortunately, most of the websites for various eco-villages around Australia are no different from the usual real-estate spins. They promise some kind of heaven on earth, which simply does not exist except in the imaginations of their promoters.”

      I agree with the her that cohousing and eco-villages should be transparent and truthful at the outset and not dismiss or make light of why there is a high turnover and why people leave. There’s a conflict of interest on the GEN and the websites of various communities that market these places when there is no mention of difficulties. They are trying to hook people with spin, but it’s deceptive when they are not transparent. People should know the pitfalls. I wonder about legal recourse as well. I’m certain a lot of people who leave would feel uncomfortable discussing the problems, just want to move on or maybe they feel shame. A lot of people probably blame themselves for falling for the BS to begin with.

      Yes, you posted the Mary Garden article in this post between the other two. I think all of these–the two articles and the video would make good stand alone posts. I quoted Mary’s article in the two comments that I left above and I agree that it is an excellent article as it covers so much. Yes you can use our comments to make it into a post.

  8. CJ says:

    Thanks – now I have lots of posts to do! I know one person who started a lawsuit since HOA and Condo boards are responsible if they don’t respond to harassment but they choose to just move on instead. I agree most want to move on but, for me, that means writing and processing and I didn’t want to keep secrets. Those going into ICs should know the whole story and I feel the pressure from many to just move on which makes me suspect to why they can’t deal with a few people leaving? It’s always explained as completely their own problem but it always takes two to tangle, or in cohousing, at least 10 other households!

  9. CJ says:

    You hit it on the nail – no one cared but once Covid threatened everyone, that was a different story. I wish I had more skepticism from groups too but looks like I had to get burned. History has shown again and again that groups can get ugly quickly and I was naïve to trust a conflict management team which I found out too late, most cohousing don’t use well or at all.

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