RE: Households Sponsoring Outside Groups in the Commonhouse
From: Rowenahc (
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2001 15:19:01 -0600 (MDT)
The Southside system sounds very much like what happens at
CambridgeCohousing.  We have 41 households and so far there haven't been any
serious conflicts, although there are often several events a week.  It is
preferred that private events be limited to the kitchen and dining room - we
don't exclude residents from the living room.  Community events come first,
although the cooks try to be a bit flexible if there is, say, a party for 15
six year olds scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, and a common meal for the
evening.  A lot of events are such things as recitals, concerts or poetry
readings involving a resident to which all residents are invited.  We also
have a fair number of events for "private" organizations of which only one
of our residents is a member, but we don't rent the place out for the
reasons Elizabeth mentioned.  We did have a painting class in our recreation
room last year for which the participating residents paid a teacher and we
have talked about getting a Yoga class started on the same basis.   People
scheduling events are responsible for cleanup and for replacing community
supplies if they are used.


-----Original Message-----
From: cohousing-l-admin [at]
[mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at]]On Behalf Of Elizabeth Stevenson
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2001 5:59 AM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_Households Sponsoring Outside Groups in the

> Is there any limit as to how many times a household may decide to reserve
> the Common House for their own use?

Yes. Don't remember the limit.

> Are different types of requests treated differently?   A household using
> Common House for personal entertaining? A household using the Common House
> for commercial purposes?  Or activities which have the support of several
> more households?

Yes. We have a monthly calendar that the common house committee uses to
determine who can use the commonhouse and when. If you want to use the CH,
you put a request on the bulletin board devoted to that purpose. That way,
others can also see what uses are requested, too. First priority is meals,
so if a cook team has reserved a day, that part of the CH is off limits.
This doesn't prevent anyone from asking if you can move the day you cook, so
it's no big deal. Cohousing events entirely within the community are next.
Events that are open to cohousers are after that(i.e., a birthday party with
all community members invited plus other friends), and last is events that
are private. As you can imagine, there is a continuum of these events, and
not all fall neatly into categories, but when I was on the committee, there
were very few scheduling conflicts, and we were able to prioritize easily
using the guidelines.

We did have a conflict over using the CH for commercial purposes. I'm not
sure it was resolved to the complete satisfaction of everyone involved.
Consider this when making your decision: some people might object on
religious, personal or political grounds to what others do to make money.
I'd stay away from that entirely unless you have purpose-built commercial
space in your CH.

We don't rent to outside groups at all. (There are possible legal problems
with non-profit status and liability issues as well.) The space is free to
anyone who lives here. Sponsors of any event are responsible for getting the
CH back to exactly the way it was before the event.
> How many evenings a week do you find that your Common House can be
> each week before members feel invaded?

I don't remember the rules about frequency. I think we limit outside events
to one per month on weekends. Weekends are when we really want the CH to
ourselves. Events during the week are not a problem.
> When you answer would you please say how many households are in your
> community. We have 36 in Sonora Cohousing and I'm also wondering if having
> that many households makes a difference in the problems that might come

We have 25 households and our CH is around 2300sf. Not big, and we have
plenty of space for events.

In retrospect, we were far more worried about use of the CH before we had
much experience than we are now. There is a certain territoriality that
needs to occur at first, while everyone gets settled into their spaces. I
would be careful not to get over exuberant in the beginning. It's exciting
to show off your new space, but more sensitive folks will feel very insecure
and unhappy about strangers all over the place, much less events that
exclude them from the CH.

As we stand now, eight years in, I feel completely comfortable with outside
events, and rarely concern myself about a bunch of strangers in the sitting
room. It doesn't happen often enough for me to feel imposed upon, and they
are always respectful and usually quieter than we are!

> Becky Schaller
> Sonora Cohousing
> Tucson, Arizona

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, California

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