Distance participation, (was prospective non-locals)
From: Gary Kent (garykentuniserve.com)
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 12:43:07 -0600 (MDT)
Hi everyone,

Our group, Roberts Creek Cohousing, is facing the challenge of distant

We are a 40 minute ferry ride (no road access from Vancouver) north of
Vancouver on the mainland of British Columbia.  The population of our semi-
rural/semi-urban community is less that 30,000.   We are heading into our
fourth year and early on in the process we exhausted the coho interested
from our small population pool.  As new folks move up to our area and hear
about us we have occasional interest.  However we are finding that the bulk
of new interest is coming from Vancouver and further afield.  Also some of
our long term members who lived close by have since moved to different parts
of the world for work and/or study (Viet Nam, Zurich) and will move back in
to the community when their tour of work/study is over.

We have 17 out of 31 homes sold, we are about to start the civil works on
our 20 acre site and hope to start home construction in the fall.

Of our 17 equity members 10 live locally.  We have two new equity members
coming on line (for a total of 19), one couple is from Washington DC (US
citizens immigrating to Canada - what a leap, very brave) and another is a
Canadian couple living in New York.

There are a few major challenges for distance members and for the group.
Participation in consensus decision making is one.  Finding a way to
contribute to the work of developing the project and keeping up with the
overwhelming information are a couple of the other challenges.

>From my perspective some of the requirements of consensus decision making
are that people are fully informed on an issue, that they know the 'history'
(background)  of the topic and that they are present (physically) to
experience the ebb and flow of the discussion and the concerns/opinions of

We have tried to supply 'all' the information of the development process via
email, telephone calls and our members web site, however, this soon became
an overwhelming task for the already over worked locals.

And, even if we were able to keep up with the information flow required,
distance members would still miss the subtleties and nuances that influence
people to make a 'shift' at crucial times.

Not being able to participate in the exciting (sometimes/often excruciating)
process of developing a 31 home project can be very frustrating for distance

As our long distance membership grows our group is currently grappling with
the issue of whether distance members will be able to block a decision
during the development stage.

We are very fortunate that so far our distance members have a good
perspective of this issue.  We have received supportive messages from them
expressing their trust in the locals doing the work and making on the fly
decisions on their behalf.  They seem to have been able to 'let go' of the
need to have a say in everything.

I would say that this 'letting go' is key to successfully developing a
project with members spread out across the continent and the world.

The leap of faith that these members are willing to make to be part of our
community is inspiring and heart opening.

This is a bit of a long winded response, I hope it is somewhat helpful.

Stacia Leech
Roberts Creek Cohousing,
British Columbia,

Cohousing-L mailing list
Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org  Unsubscribe  and other info:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.