This is an interview with Eris Weaver, a presenter at the National Cohousing Conference in Nashville May 19-21. Eris will be leading several workshops and at the event, including Cohousers in Politics and Let’s Talk About Money. Check out our overview of the event to learn more, and be sure to visit our bookstore if you attend #Coho2017 in person!
FIC: What is your experience with cohousing and what are you most looking forward to about the conference?
Eris: I’ve been involved with cohousing since 1998, as a founding member of FrogSong in Cotati, CA. I’ve served on the Coho/US Board. As a faciitator, trainer and consultant, I’ve worked with over two dozen cohousing communities around the country. I enjoy seeing old friends at the conference, and getting a feel for the flavor of communities in other parts of the country.
FIC: You’re hosting a half day pre-conference intensive called “Let’s Talk About Money.” How transparent should intentional communities be about money? Does being able to talk openly about income, debt, and expenses make for stronger communities?
Eris: For most of us, our house is our biggest financial investment. Deciding to live in community is one of our biggest emotional & relational investments (after marriage and parenthood). Decisions and conflicts about money are really decisions and conflicts about values. The more depth we bring to these conversations early in our group’s formation, the better decisions we will make and fewer conflicts and greater understanding and connection we will have.
FIC: One of your talks, “Cohousers in Politics,” sounds particularly timely. Are there any politicians who have been vocal in their support for cohousing communities?
One of my experiences has been that local officials who are at first dubious (and make our development experience challenging) later become big fans…and court us as voters and community influencers.
FIC: Do you know of any cohousing residents in public office in the U.S.?
Eris: I know several of us who serve on city councils, planning commissions, design review boards, human rights commissions, library boards, etc.
FIC: Do you see cohousing and politics as mostly a local issue, or can support for cohousing influence our country on a larger scale?
Eris: My focus is local for three reasons. One, land use is regulated at the local level, and therefore it is local government that we have the most interaction with as we create our communities. Two, it is possible for individuals and/or small groups to have very visible and direct influence at the local level – much more so than at the national level. Three, it is directly connected to community. Running for city council and serving on my local design review and chamber of commerce boards has broadened and deepened my connections within our small town. My connection with the town benefits my cohousing community, and my life in cohousing influences how I show up in the broader community.
Learn more about Eris at ErisWeaver.info and check out her latest book The Art of Apology: A Workbook for Resolving Conflict and Improving Relationships. You can follow her on Twitter at @ErisWeaver.