CH game room
From: PattyMara (
Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 13:03:49 -0500
Dear List,
I need the wisdom of the list to help us make some decisions about the usage
of the game room in the Tierra Nueva common house (which is nearly finished,
first move-ins slated for July/Aug).

Over one year ago a community member asked the group if we were interested in
a donation of a family heirloom slate pool table for use in the common house
game room.  We enthusiastically accepted the offer.  He went to the expense of
pulling it out of storage and restoring it.  

Last week at our regular business meeting the same member brought it back up
to the group to receive confirmation that the pool table would indeed be
placed in the game room.  A long discussion followed with some of the newest
members expressing some discomfort with the notion.  After several rounds we
crafted a proposal that incorporated two concerns:  that the pool table be
made convertable to a ping-pong table and that the issue be revisited in 6
months after move in.  When put to a vote one new member thumbed it down.  

In the rhythms of our group process we *rarely* if ever, see thumbs down--most
often a member with concerns will use a sideways thumb to slow down the vote,
and ask for time or further study.  It was a blow to the group to see the
thumb down, and has presented us with the opportunity to evaluate a few
things, such as:

How do well do we communicate to new members our group process procedures and
underlying values?
How do we determine use of common house rooms, when the influx of new members
seems to add new perceptions about what should go on in the various spaces?
(Yes, we did "program" our common house with Chuck and Katie over 7 years ago,
but most of the current members were not involved in that process-even though
our common house was built with those programmings in mind)

In the past when a member has not been able to go with the flow of the group
the options have been to present a side-ways thumb, ask for clarification/more
time/further study. An action item is created for that person or an
appropriate committee to do the further study and bring it back to the group.
If the vote is needed immediately,  the option of "standing aside" is
available.  "Standing Aside" is a tenet of modified consensus decision-making
that we practice.  The opposing member makes a "gift to the group" to set
aside his or her personal agenda to allow for forward motion for the good of
the group.  It is noted in the minutes of the meeting if anyone has chosen
this path.  Again, it is a rare occurance, and is deeply appreciated by the

So my request for the wisdom of the list is:  How do you communicate your
consensus process to new members?  Do you have a written Rights and
Responsibilities of Group Membership?  

How do you determine common house room use, and keep it current with the
influx of new members?

Do any built groups have a pool table in their recreation room?  What's your
experience been? 

Thanks in advance.
Patty Mara Gourley
Tierra Nueva Cohousing, 
Central California Coast
where new members are joining right and left, and only a few homes remain


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