RE: Following agreements
From: Eileen McCourt (
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 11:55:09 -0600 (MDT)
Patty, I'm sure you are right about the attendance after move-in.  But with
the agenda you describe below, my question is why are most of these
decisions part of a business meeting at all?  I hope we will have a
landscape or environmental committee with a budget to decide if we need a
chipper, and an architectural committee to decide what kinds and how many
signs we want, and so forth.  Use of the common house seems like a community
issue, but the other stuff seems administrative.  Maybe it's a reflection of
how calm things are at Tierra Nueva that you take decisions of this level to
the entire group.  Or maybe my idea of consensus is pretty different from


emccourt [at]
phone    650-691-1195
fax         650-691-0195
mobile   650-766-0889

-----Original Message-----
From: cohousing-l-admin [at]
[mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at]]On Behalf Of pattymara [at]
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 8:49 AM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_Following agreements

With all respect, Eileen, I think that regular attendance at meetings is
more important when you are developing, marketing and building your
cohousing community, which is exactly where you (and Oak Creek Commons)
are now.  This is the time when the really important, risky, community-
forging work takes place.  The issues are often make-it-or-break-it, the
stakes are high and the personal interactions are critical for creating
your group's vision and heart.

After move-in the issues morph into a whole different animal, becoming
more everyday, bread and butter ordinary.  The high adrenalin, high risk
decisions simmer down.  For example, we had our business meeting last
night and the agenda items ranged from limiting signs on the common house
doors to notices for events occuring less then 48 hours from the time of
posting, to buying a chipper to chew up landscape and orchard waste into
mulch, to buying new letterhead stationary, to discussing common house
room use.  Not your high stakes issues.  Sometimes the issues become more
heated, but the business meetings are just one of the venues where
conversations and compromises can occur.  When you cross paths with your
neighbors at meals, in the laundry room or at the chicken coops on an
everyday basis, these are opportunities for connection, much more
interesting to me than at a business meeting.

Business meetings at Tierra Nueva seems to ebb and flow in attendance.
Last night we had 18 households represented out of 27, for a relatively
lacklustre agenda.  About 70%, right?  And when hot issues surface we get
more, and during summer vacation we get less.  It's all good.

Patty Mara Gourley
Tierra Nueva, central CA coast

On Thu, 7 Jun 2001 10:55:35 -0700 "Eileen McCourt"
<emccourt [at]> writes:
> I think regular attendance at meetings is definitely a requirement of
> living
> in cohousing.  Not everyone agrees, although I would say we get
> about 70% of
> households at our meetings.  We are just about to start
> construction, and
> lots of money is involved.  Our meetings require most people to
> travel 3-4
> hours at least once a month, but we still get good attendance.
> --eileen
> Eileen McCourt
> Oak Creek Commons
> Cohousing in Paso Robles, CA
> emccourt [at]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: cohousing-l-admin [at]
> [mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at]]On Behalf Of Robert P. Arjet
> Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 8:40 AM
> To: cohousing-l [at]
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_Following agreements
> cohousing-l [at] writes:
> >This particular cohousing group regularly only gets
> >30-40% of its members to attend  meetings, which meets the quorum
> >requirements but apparently isn't enough to make some decisions
> actually
> >work. (it was instructive to hear WHY people did not attend
> meetings)
> I'd be interested in hearing more about  these reasons.  We're still
> in
> the "forming" stage, so I'm not surprised that are a lot of people
> who
> attend 50% of the meetings or less.  I've assumed, however, that
> once we
> are a "real" group, with "real" members and money involved, that
> regular
> attendance will simply be one of the duties of membership.  However,
> it
> looks like in a lot of communities attendance is just not a
> requirement or
> a social norm.
> Maybe I spent too many years on football teams in Texas, but it
> seems to
> me that if you don't show up for practice, you really can't expect
> to
> play.  Am I right in assuming that any consensus-based group with a
> 40%
> attendance rate has much bigger problems than who cleans up messes?
> I
> can't imagine trying to get compliance on a decision when 60% of the
> affected parties weren't there.  To stretch my metaphor dreadfully,
> that's
> like trying to run a brand-new play when only the quarterback, the
> wide
> receiver, and a couple of the linemen were at practice.  60% of the
> players aren't going to know what to do, it's going to fail
> miserably, and
> all the people who weren't at practice will agree that the play was
> a bad
> idea.  The worst part is that in cohousing, there's not even a coach
> to
> blame.
> I guess what's at the bottom of my curiosity is this: do other
> people
> consider meeting attendance a central requirement of living in a
> consensus-based community?  If so, then why is there so much trouble
> in
> getting people to show up? What are those instructive reasons for
> people
> not showing up, and do they generally hold water?
> Thanks,
> Robert Arjet
> Central Austin Cohousing
> where we have agreed to accept membership money, but until we have a
> budget, we're not allowed to spend any...
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