Re: use of common house for non-coho events
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2001 18:21:01 -0600 (MDT)
At RoseWind Cohousing we have a 12-year-old group, but have only had our 
common house done for a couple of months. We've immediately had a LOT of 
interest in using it for events and meetings of various sorts. Here is 
our initial approach, which so far has been working.

1) Outright rental to groups that we are not part of: ie weddings, 
workshops, catering businesses, etc. We are not ready to do this at all, 
yet. We have some information that our nonprofit status may preclude 
renting to any for-profit enterprise, like a professional caterer. We 
know this is true for a 501c3, but still need to find out if it applies 
to us, a mutual-benefit nonprofit corporation. We also don't yet know 
what the insurance and liability implications are. Most importantly, we 
want to first find out how we can make maximum, optimal, use of the 
facility to build our own community ties and serve the needs of our 
members. So we are waiting on this. 

2) "Sponsored events." A member may reserve the facility for something 
they are part of. My bicycle club, political organization, book 
discussion, which is not primarily a RoseWind event. Maybe not a RW event 
at all. For some sort of business, planning, discussion, etc. The 
sponsoring member must be physically present and must sign a fairly 
detailed agreement ahead of time, taking full responsibility, including 
legal and financial responsibility, for any consequences of the 
gathering. Plus clean-up of course. A suggested minimum donation of $1 
per participant is requested. 

3) Personal social events. Again, not RoseWind events, but an 
individual's party, celebration, or other social gathering. As above, the 
sponsor signs the responsibility form. Minimum donation of $10 is 

4) Personal use: we had a member use the kitchen all day one day to cook 
for a friend's wedding, as his personal contribution to the wedding. We 
just let him do it. There will probably be some other requests we haven't 
thought about. Will a person want to have their babysitter use it to take 
care of their kid(s)? Will someone want to do a big sewing or crafts 
project there? We'll see! 

Our Common House Operations team oversees this. A large calendar on the 
CH bulletin board records coming events and space reservations. Forms are 
available, and filed, in a looseleaf notebook kept in the CH.

Generally speaking, events cannot be scheduled during any of the usual 
times we have meals, meetings, discussion circles or such. That currently 
includes three evenings a week.
In the remaining times, RW events have priority. 

No use is "exclusive": members may always at least pass through on 
errands. So no gatherings where total confidentiality or non-interruption 
is essential. 

We haven't put a quota, since we haven't yet seen any conflicts or 

We opened a "Club" checking account, in which to keep the miscellaneous 
funds from event donations, any surplus from group meal fees, or 
donations. From this we can fund small purchases for the kitchen, for 
example, which are not part of the basic operations budget which is 
funded by our annual assessments. 

We are 24 households, of which 16 are currently living on the site, and 
18 households are using the common house (some members are in the process 
of moving in or out, or live out of town still). 

If anyone wants a copy of the actual sponsor contract, or a couple of 
pages of general rules and guidelines on common house use, email me off 
line and I'll be glad to send them to you. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature)

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