|RE: Some membership questions||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (Floriferousclassic.msn.com)|
|Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 21:26:18 -0500|
There are two separate peices to membership: One, what the law allows and two, what you want. My opinion is that you can pretty safely do a lot of wiggling about how you present your community before you would ever get into trouble. People who routinely drive 80 MPH in 55 MPH zones argue that we can do nothing about screening members because its against the law. These same people break the law every time they drive... I agree with Bard, the law is often an idiot. There are lots of ways to screen in the right people. I have not yet heard about any cohousing groups ever getting in trouble by having informal conditions on sale of future or existing units, or selectively advertising or marketing. Of course, maybe lots have and I just haven't ever heard about it, but I get around so if it was a common problem I think I would've heard about it by now. The law is only an issue if somebody feels they have been wronged, or unfairly treated, and there are very easy and effective ways, based on what you tell people, and what you emphasize, to key on the important skills and characteristics you are looking for. I think its really a good idea to carefully screen new members, at any stage. You can screen them by what you tell them on a tour and how you emphasize certain things like community expectations, dinners, socialiable climate, swapping childcare, sharing personal tools, co-ownership of common elements, collaboration, etc. I went on a cohousing tour once where the tour giver specificially mentioned that living here required good collaboration skills, then she specifically asked me what my experiences were in working with groups using consensus! There are a number of attitudes and skills that are helpful to be a sucessful community participant, and more you can screen people out that do not have those attitudes the better your group will work together. How you give a tour can do a lot to screen in the right people, brochures and other handouts also can do this as well. It is so much easier to screen in the right people than to deal with trying to remove the wrong people later. I once facilitated a meeting where a person was asked to leave. I had several of the more involved members meet privately to brainstorm up a list of skills and attitudes that members needed to be sucessful and happy in the community. We then presented this list to the unhappy member, noted how unhappy she was, noted how her unhappiness was causing other unhappiness in the group. She then broke down, more or less confessed her problems, saw that she was too dysfunctional to be part of the group, and she agreed to leave. I would not wish that sort of meeting on anybody. So pick your members with at least some clue about what makes a successful group member so you don't ever get into that place. Also, to buck the popular opinion, just because somebody owns a house does not mean you can't ask them to leave. You just can't force them out directly. Of course, its better to work on the issues, but sometimes there are people who are just not good neighbors. They lie, they cheat, they may be seriously emotionally dysfunctional. In the extreme cases, the group really needs to work together and stay healthy in the presence of bad relationship. This requires committed work, and the sad thing is, too many groups avoid it, and ignore the problem. Often this ends up with really excellent members leaving because they won't tolerate the dysfunctional people. If you want to keep members, and make them feel committed, have a celebration in honor of their joining. It can be simple, or elaborate. If people who made commitment leave, honor their work with a ceremony. It will help in the healing to have everyone be a part of saying goodbye. This does not have to be sad and mopy. One of the best parties we had lately was when a very much loved neighbor moved on. Rob Sandelin Sharingwood Cohousing
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