Diversity in cohousing is not a new topic, but it is a conversation that is increasingly at the forefront of forming communities as the discussion has grown nationally in all aspects of contemporary life. This subject is not easy to approach, it requires lots of unlearning, listening, and often times uncomfortable introspection. It is not a topic that we can decipher alone, and takes the coming together of various groups and demographics to begin to understand the root of the problem, and how we can affect change in our own lives and communities.
Here at Washington Commons we have enlisted the help of Dr. Stacie Walton, better known as the Diversity Doctor, to learn how we can better create a welcomingly diverse community environment.
In our first meeting with Stacie, she emphasized intention and action. She queried us as to what results we really want. This led us to creating an action plan which we are now implementing. This plan includes strategically redesigning our website, initiating a list of organizations in our community that we can work with and share our message with such as the black Chamber of Commerce, the urban league and various service organizations. We are working to outline economic options for first time homebuyers and others with limited financial resources. We set up to focus groups to query in a neutral environment people of color who had participated in past site tours to learn whether our processes had could be improved.
"I personally think the most powerful thing that Stacie did for us was to engage us in a way that mobilized our intention. We have been desiring this but without any sense of efficacy. Stacie gave us the sense that we really could make a difference. That even small things could make a difference. She is also working with us on the topic of healing, resulting in profound realizations. I desire diversity, and my intention is to be welcoming. But, I have, in effect, a counter intention that and that is “Why would any people of color want to be with us? Why after all we as a culture have done to them?” I’m working on healing this and making myself truly open to engaging with people of color who I’m learning are very excited about engaging with us."
- Anne Geraghty, Washington Commons Community Member
We continue to work every day to create a more welcoming and diverse environment. We are listening, learning, and unlearning. With the guidance of Dr. Stacie Walton we feel like we are beginning to fully embody our mission statement: "Our daring effort to live well with care for each other and the environment, learn from each other, respect our differences, and make great community decisions."
Thanks for reading.