|RE: Group Growth-Early||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (robsanmicrosoft.com)|
|Date: Thu, 5 May 94 09:07 CDT|
Corey Yugler asks: Our group is 5 households presently moving forward with site , developer, and architect search. One issue presently for us is how important it is to recruit new people at this stage. We know at some point (maybe sooner than we think), we will have to have more households on board, but at this point we move swiftly (okay, maybe with a little burden due to the work load) through meetings and decisions. I would be interested to know how much efforts other groups put in to early recruitment. We eventually want a community of between 18 and 30 households. Is it always a good time to get committed people? It seems like most people who are interested don't want to spend their time at this point, or they aren't ready to put money down after a few meetings. __________________________________________________________________ One way to evaluate this is to ask yourself, what would happen if two households left? Would the group still be able to function or would it collapse? If you are really doing active site selection you will need to determine the functional size of your financial core group soon. Can 5 members really generate enough money to pay for earnest money on a site option, and cover all the architect fees, etc. You do realize that all the development capital will have to be carried by members for several months, even years? For example an option on a $350,000 site would usually be a minimum of 10% which with five memberships means $7,000 each. Add another $15,000 for design and engineering work, $5,000 for legal and bank approvals and that's adding up to $11K per membership. That's cash upfront in real funds, not pledges or credits. I have noticed that many groups lose significant membership when the time comes to put up real money. This point has killed a few groups off in that the financial core needed to make a downpayment on a site drops below what can be afforded. Also many groups don't frankly talk about the real costs, don't realistically evaluate the financial stability and wherewithal of members and so get surprised when they actually get down to reality to find out that nobody has anything but talk to put in. Putting it bluntly, if you have 5 memberships who have put in $20,000 apiece,(or have pledged that money in writing) then you are on the road and moving. If your membership financial requirement is small,(which makes it easy to walk away from) then I would be worried about only five memberships. For example, to be a member of Sharingwoods second phase of development requires a $7,000 downpayment on a contract for $35,000. This is refundable only after all the units have sold, or is eventually refundable if the project goes belly up. I notice that the planning meetings are well attended by those who have put in funding and sporadically attended by those who have not. Cohousing is full of trade-offs at every step. One of the advantages of having a small group is that there is less discussion so you can move faster. However what you lose with less discussion is a limiting of your ideas. Each member brings with them a lifetime of experiences and resources, which if used correctly can be a huge asset. One way to have both is to break into smaller decision making groups and use the larger group principally for brainstorming ideas and solutions. In this way you get the benefit of the larger base of experiences and resources, yet have the streamlining of the smaller group for decision making. Not to mention more bodies to assign tasks to. At Sharingwood we typically brainstorm stuff as a large group then punt the actual decision or action item to a task force of 3-4 people who are interested. For example we are buying some chairs. We brainstormed up a list of attributes in the large group, then 3 people have the task of sorting the list and buying the chairs. Typically the people who care the most about a particular issue volunteer to be on the task force. (This is different than a committee, in that a committee has an ongoing mission where a task force has one limited focus which goes away once completed) Another example, the other day in a small group we realized we needed the advice of a real estate attorney on a matter. The 4 members of the task force didn't know any attorneys. However when we asked the whole group we got 3 recommendations. Members also bring a number of resources which you might not realize so it is useful occasionally to brainstorm up a list of resources people can contribute.. Relatives who have expertise, work related resources such as Xeroxing, connections to other helpful people, plus the human ecology elements such as bridge builder, idea generator, carrier-doer, etc. Another trade-off is the relationships of the people. If a core group does all the work, then everyone else buys in after all the work and decisions are done the relationship of the group is much different than if the participation base is larger and more inclusive. Granted, this often happens anyway as the costs escalate and people bail out, and the point where the risk is small(which is after all the work is done), is typically where lots of people are ready to join. Good luck on your project, post us with your travels Rob Sandelin Sharingwood Cohousing Puget Sound Cohousing Network Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time
Group Growth-Early cbwhy, May 4 1994
- RE: Group Growth-Early Rob Sandelin, May 5 1994
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