|RE: National CoHousing Association||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (Floriferousmsn.com)|
|Date: Fri, 18 Jul 1997 09:19:19 -0500|
I see a national organization accomplishing three major tasks: promotion, resource distribution and support. Promotion would entail generating national publicity, like the US today article. It would be the place to call for more information. It would have information about local groups, information about general cohousing, fliers, brochures and other take aways. Resource Distribution. Would have sample documents, consultant listings, maintain the website and magazaine. Support. Would have one or more knowagble people who could answer questions, or fly out and consult if need be. The cohousing company does a lot of this stuff now, so do I, so do others. I find the model that the National Audubon society uses to be very effective as a volunteer initiated organization. They have a volunteer board that meets quarterly, they have a small paid staff that are hired to work on specific campaigns, and they have a huge local grassroots system of volunteers which are used by the national campaign staff, as well as local projects. They accomplish lots of stuff. Just 2 cents worth Rob Sandelin Northwest Intentional Communities Association Sponsor of the 1997 North American Cohousng Conference Seattle WA Sept. 19-21 ---------- From: cohousing-l [at] freedom.mtn.org on behalf of David Mandel Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 1997 10:13 AM Subject: Re: National CoHousing Association A few comments in response to Zev's welcome query about a possible national cohousing organization supplanting RMCA and other regional groups: First, can someone tell us what happened to the plan to create a national (continental?) nonprofit organization after the last North American conference? There was a clear mandate to do so. Apparently it's not as easy as it sounds. Who, for instance, would pay for all the expenses? Would each community be assessed? Asked to join voluntarily? Individual memberships? A lot of time and effort (probably mostly quite futile) chasing grants? Personally, I think there is a role for a continental association, but it should have limited goals that make sense: Most of all, it should be a clearinghouse of information and communication, maintaining up-to-date data on all communities and groups to facilitate connections among them; for individuals who are looking for others of like mind in their geographical area; for groups, lenders, developers and professionals seeking each other out; for information on legislative efforts that may affect cohousing (these will be mostly on the state level); and for media people who want a quick picture and contacts. It should have a coherent but not burdensome governing body and decision-making process. I would see no need to meet except at the biennial conferences; other means of communication can suffice in between. It should have loose connections with the journal, with cohousing-l and with any other projects of broad geographic scope that arise. But such projects, existing and future, are best left to the energies, talents and fund-raising abilities of those who initiate them and sustain them as going concerns. It will be a recipe for disaster if they start looking to a centralized, paid-staffed organization to sustain them, financially or otherwise. I've seen too many such enterprises start up with bursts of energy and some initial financing, then atrophy as debts mount, start-up money dries up, energy wanes and everyone who's actually doing stuff in the provinces is demoralized by the center's inability to do their work for them. After all, cohousing is quintessentially a local phenomenon, repeated in endless variety in many locales. That's where most of the energy and effort have to go. A central office should have at most one staff person -- and only if the funds to pay her/him are assured for at least two years. In some ways, I think it would be better if this were an all-volunteer effort, with individuals taking on specified tasks and roles for specified periods of time. With e-mail, faxes and cheap phone cards, do we even need a central office? As for regional networks, I think they have an important role whether or not there is a continental organization. It would make it much easier for us to put on a regional conference next time (which is only a year off!). It will, I hope, in California, lead to an ongoing series of miniconferences to assist us in networking with our relatively close cohousing neighbors and gaining some valuable instruction on particular topics. We can coordinate approaches to regional developers, lenders, state legislators. I would hope RMCA and other regional groups see the advantages of this. Again, I would advise keeping it loose, minimizing meetings and such. Don't get trapped hiring more than temporary paid staff to coordinate when some concentrated organizing is needed. If a North American group forms as a 501(c)(3), then it would probably be worthwhile to call the regional networks chapters to take advantage of the status without the hassle and expense of obtaining it themselves. But please, let's not fall in the trap of mandating a complicated dues structure that would be needed if we started to think in terms of large budgets, offices, lots of staff, etc. If we grow really big and can't help ourselves someday, I won't try to hold back history. But meanwhile, let's remember that the crux of our work is local. David Mandel, Sacramento
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