RE: Programming the commonhouse
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 00:00:05 -0600

Several private emails asked about how you "program" a commonhouse, whats 
involved, etc.  I faciliated the programming for my own community and here is 
what I did.

We started with defining our value set. The group responded in writing to the 
questions:  Why did you come here, and what are the things you cherish most 
about Sharingwood.  We then distilled all the answers down to a set of 
over-acrching values statements which became the foundation of our program.

Next we defined the activities that could happen that would facilitate the 
values. For instance one value was: A safe place for kids, so we examined what 
activities or attributes made such a thing happen.

Then we began to define types of spaces activities happen in, and their 
attributes.  As this was being done, several members formed field trips and 
went out and surveyed and measured a wide variety of spaces, such as kids 
spaces in an environmental learning center, restraunts, YMCA camps, the two 
other existing common houses in our area, plus a couple of intentional 
communities.  This gave us a wealth of ideas about attributes of spaces.

We then prioritized the list by giving all the list of ideas to everyone and 
giving them 22 stickers. (there were something like 80 items on the list). 
People got to put as many as 3 stickers on any one thing. We tallied them and 
made a graph and that gave us a prioritized list of the 18 most important 
things. (some stuff, like "astromonical observatory" fell off the list 
altogether) Note: This, (gasp) is basically voting. We then consensused on the 
prioritized list.

We then defined relationships and requirements for spaces, How does the entry 
space relate to the bathroom, kitchen, kids space? We did this with a couple 
different workshops.

In the end we had a very usable description of what we wanted, which we then 
used as the guidelines for the drawings.  The drawings were very much site 
dependant, but the program was the checklist and checkpoint of the concept. I 
think the commonhouse we ended up with is very much what we originally wanted 
via programming and meets our values nicely. But of course, I WOULD say that, 
who knows what others might say......

Rob Sandelin
Where the commonhouse is decorated with cool Halloween stuff

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.