Re: orienting new members
From: Elizabeth Stevenson (
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 20:15:01 -0600 (MDT)
Good idea. What we did was edit down all the decisions inot a handbook,
which is easily read in one sitting. It works well, but you have to have
someone willing to do the herculean task.

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, California
tamgoddess [at]
> From: "Rob Sandelin" <floriferous [at]>
> Reply-To: cohousing-l [at]
> Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 19:07:01 -0700
> To: <cohousing-l [at]>
> Subject: RE: [C-L]_orienting new members
> One of the things I have observed is that new members are often overwhelmed
> with information. They get this huge stack of papers with the expectation:
> "It was in the bylaws, didn't you read them?"  This often is a set up for a
> unhappy relationship with all the "paperwork". The expectation that everyone
> is going to actually read this huge pile of sometimes obtuse paperwork is
> unrealistic.
> One thing I saw a chapter of Habitat for humanity do once that I thought was
> a good paperwork management scheme was they gave new members an empty
> notebook, with a colorful cover. Then, at every  meeting, they gave the
> members a reasonable sized chunk of the manual to read every couple weeks.
> In this way, since the load was manageable, the rather large manual actually
> got read over the period of a couple of months, instead of being shelved
> because it was too big and cumbersome to actually read. The important
> material was handed out first, then the less important stuff.  At each
> meeting the new folks got asked, did you read the  last section and if yes,
> did they have any questions? If the answer was no they did not  read it,
> then they didn't get the next set until they did, which was at the next
> meeting. Since the assignments were small and the expectation was on
> performance (reading the material) apparently rarely did anyone not do their
> "homework". They used to just hand out the whole manual notebook and found
> nobody had the time to read it and I suspect that people are also daunted by
> the size and time requirement to read it. By putting it into manageable
> chunks they got a huge performance improvement.
> Rob Sandelin
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