Re: amount of rules
From: Buzz Burrell (72253.2101CompuServe.COM)
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 09:26:57 -0500
Brian Sullivan wrote (in part):

>I found Rob's letter and others in this area very thought provoking.  And
>the basic thought provoked was..".How few rules are needed for a co-housing
>community to exist?"
>(parts snipped) But are they needed for the basic concept of cohousing?? To 
me, it seems
>the basic legal and financial responsibilites of a cohousing community must
>obviously be clearly spelled out and adhered to (just like a condo
>association.)  Next level would require participation in meeting and
>running the place,,,again like a condo association. The next level of
>agreements come to the community sharing of diners, the common house, and
>other shared functions like a childcare group.
>But as hard as I think, I can't see the need for any other rules....
First of all, the rules Brian outlined:  Fiscal/Financial;  Condo 
Association;  Community Agreements;  ARE the only rules in most groups.  
The only difference is that some communities become more extensive by 
adding agreements into those same 3 catagories Brian mentioned.  Thus, a 
pet rule is simply another Community Agreement.

That having been said, he raises an interesting point that we've been 
thinking of recently ourselves.  Why bother with rules at all?

In our group, there is a 4th catagory of rules that was done before the 3 
mentioned above, and which is clearly more important:  Mission Statement 
& Agreements.  These are read aloud before every meeting.  Theoretically, 
it would be possible to have the community function with no other rules 
besides these basic agreements, which are utterly non-specific, and just 
describe how we want to BE.  Theoretically, everything else is just a 
detail and could be worked out on the spot by following our primary 
Mission Statement and Agreements.

In practice however, this would be very challenging, so we have a few 
corporate By-Laws, some community agreements (such as how we make 
decisions, how to join, etc), and some Covenants.  As it happens, the 
creation of these agreements is more important than the agreement itself. 
 Can you guess why?  Its because the process of creating the agreement 
generates knowledge, understanding, and true consensus, which is the most 
important stuff.  After that, we tend to forget what we agreed upon, and 
it works out fine, because the important part was accomplished. 

There exists, as usual, a range of style on this subject of rules.  Some 
people feel more comfortable with more, some with less.  There is no way 
in the world one way is better than the other objectively speaking, but 
it certainly may be for an individual.  Thus, each community needs to not 
make too many assumptions on this subject, and find their own place on 
the spectrum.

Also as usual, I feel that a strong of commonality, achieved through 
whatever means (like a Mission Statement), is the great stabilizing force 
in which ever direction the community moves.

Lastly, when we are creating some new rule, I like to think, if just 
briefly, in these terms:
"What's the point, why are we doing this?  Are we creating more fear, or 
more freedom?"
A good rule (it often helps to call it an "agreement"), sets us free, not 
the other way around.

Buzz Burrell  *   buzz [at]   *   Boulder, CO

Geneva Cohousing Community - 176 acres north of Lyons, CO 
Bolder Building - solar adobe house (finished) in Paonia
Colorado Friends of Tibet - hosting the Dalai Lama in 1997

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