Re: meetings
From: Ken Collerman (
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 13:05:02 -0600 (MDT)
We have the same problem at Windsong Cohousing (i.e. poor attendance).  Out
of about 60 adults we typically get between 15 and 30 showing up for
community meetings.  Often it's the same people showing up.

This would not be a serious problem if those who did not show up followed
the agreements made by those who did.  However, they often don't. For
example, we made an agreement about pets which was not followed by one of
the pet owners who did not show up for the related meeting. This resulted in
an altercation between them and others in the community when the policy was
not followed. The minutes of the meeting and the policy were posted in the
common house as well as in digital form on our intranet (i.e. a few clicks

We also have a problem with maintenance via community contribution.  Some of
the work is not getting done.  Furthermore the  members that show up to
community meetings are often the same ones that contribute to maintenance.
There are some members who simply do not participate in the community.

There are many reasons why a member would not participate:

1) they are too busy with friends and family outside of the community
2) they are intimidated by meetings (i.e. prefer to have time to think
things over rather than be put on the spot)
3) they are too busy just surviving (ex. commuting to and from work and
working long hours).
4) they bought into a vision of community which just didn't fit reality
5) they don't like giving up their autonomy.

The location of our community has contributed to reason 1 and 3. Moving out
to Windsong was a financial hardship for many.  The prices of housing in the
Vancouver area are high.  Also, to make Windsong affordable, it was located
far from where most people work, so there are a lot of long commutes. Some
members have reduced the commute by being self-employed and working from
home which resulted in longer hours of work.

Some members of our community would rather discuss issues via email or
threaded discussions than in large face-to-face meetings either because of
the difficulty in fitting them into their schedule or due to their feeling
intimidated in large meetings (reason 2).

For most of us, moving to Windsong meant giving up some autonomy.  We had to
learn how to live in community.  It wasn't something we were brought up
with. I believe community life has been superior to what we had before.
However, we do have our challenges.

Ken Collerman
Windsong Cohousing
Langley, BC

----- Original Message -----
From: <HeidiNYS [at]>
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 5:42 PM
Subject: [C-L]_meetings

Dear Robert,

We've lived at Cantines Island co-housing three years, this Winter will be
four.   While many of us traveled various distances [some over 100 miles,
closest, perhaps 25 miles, for a while till renting nearby, one household
came in from Washinton DC, 4-5 hours away.]
We had pretty good attendance at meetings for years before move-in.  and we
met for years and years.  Meetings were generally pretyty good-humored.  And
long.  Our formatt included an open house/tour,  for potential interested
folks, then intros all 'round, and dialogue with new folks, then a pot-luck
lunch!! that would wrap up about 2PM, and then we'd go into committee
meetings and then the full meeting.  Believe it or not, after all this,
perhaps one out of three times, most of us would walk to supper together at
the Chinese Restaurant, just across the bridge from here.

We formed a lot of connection.
Recently, almost 4 yrs after move-in, we do have many meetings w'out a

Our experience,
all best,
Ruth hirsch
Cantines Island Co-housing, inviting another family.... we were able to buy
small adjacent piece of land, overlooking river rapids.... near Woodstock,
in the breathtakingly beautiful hudson Valley.

In a message dated 6/7/01 1:01:43 PM, cohousing-l-request [at]
Message: 8
Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2001 11:39:35 -0400
Subject: Re: [C-L]_Following agreements
To: cohousing-l [at]
From: "Robert P. Arjet" <rarjet [at]>
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at]

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

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?


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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