RE: To accept or not to accept
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 12:01:56 -0500
One thing that I think would have been enourmously helpful for us would 
have been some sort of training program for  members.  If every member 
knew the basics of Consensus, cooperative communication techniques, and 
basic mediation techniques, things would go SO much easier. These 
things are not taught by society or in typical schooling, but can be 
learned. (I teach just such a weekend course)

Sort of the Community school idea, giving folks who have no experience 
or training in group endeavors, proven techniques for being effective 
members of a group.=20

I have found that people with good communication skills, no matter what 
their personality types, can be great members of a group. Conversely, 
great people who lack cooperative experience and have poor 
communication skills can, without intending to do so, really cause huge 
problems within a group. I know of one start up group that died after 
the first couple of meetings due to one persons poor communication 
skills.  This is pretty extreme, but it happens. Often the person 
causing the problem is unaware of their style and its effects and they 
blunder along without getting any constructive feedback or training. 
These people are not bad, they are just ignorant of group communication 

It would be easy to reject such a person as being "difficult", yet all 
they really need is some training in how to be an effective member of a 
group. =20

I am not sure what criteria you could use for who becomes a member. A 
very common place cohousing residents seem to get out of balance over 
is the sense of community vs. convient place to live debate.  Many 
folks who found cohousing groups put in huge energies because they want 
to build a sense of community. Often, folks who join later join for the 
benefits and convienance, with much less  willingness to make 
commitments to the community. This dichotomy can become an undercurrent 
of dissatisfaction from both sides, those who want more community 
activities and involvements and those who want less. I have heard this 
from residents of 9 cohousing groups so it seems to be pretty common 

>From my place on the soap box, I would encourage you to filter for 
those who seek community and are willing to commit time to it. Creating 
a strong vision statement which must be ackowleged by signing, would be 
a good place to start. Creating a membership survey process might be 
another, where prospective members explain why they want to join and 
what they bring to the group. Unfortunately, most capital project 
groups find that at a late stage they will sign up any warm body with 
money in order to make the project fundable and spend their recruitment 
time "selling" all the benefits of the project, never once asking 
potential members what THEY can offer.  So picking members may be kind 
of luxery that you don't really have.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood Community
Northwest Intentional Communities Association

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