RE: Environmental values
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2005 21:36:27 -0800 (PST)
One of the ways to clarify values is to define them in terms of actions.
Measuring, doable things that people either sign up to do or not. For
example, you could brainstorm up a list of actions that show Caring for the
environment, then have people commit to them by putting there name next to
the action that they are willing to do and be held accountable for.  You
give people a set of tiny sticky notes, and have them write their name on
them. For example, one such action might be recycle my paper and glass.  On
that posted item people who are willing to do that place their name sticky.
I have also done this with different colors for support and non-support, so
for example a green sticky means yes I will do this, a red sticky means no,
I will not. You can find all kinds of sticky notes, tab stickers and such at
Office depot, or other such stores. Another action would be, not owning a
car. Again this might not be highly supported, but you will readily see this
by the commitment stickies. You can do this in a shelter scale format by not
having names show up, but paper slips, with yes or no on them. You can then
tally the results by color markers to make a graph that shows support or
non-support which does not identify any individual. I think this is less
powerful but it shows the community clearly where people stand in terms of
the actions.

Then sort through the list of actions that have the most support and those
become your community value of, Caring for the environment.  You can also
set this up so that values are not mandatory, but reflect the will of the
community. In this way, if one or two people out of the community are not
willing to do the action and be held accountable they are simply standing
aside, but they will clearly see, by the number of names involved, that the
action itself is a community value.  You will also see actions which are
clearly not well supported, and these are not community values, but personal
ones, which of course can also be supported and admired, but the majority
will choose not to be held accountable to them. 

Being held accountable should be a personal statement of acceptance, not an
invitation to nag or judge those who do not follow through.

Rob Sandelin

-----Original Message-----
From: Maggi Rohde [mailto:maggi [at]] 
Sent: Saturday, March 12, 2005 6:03 PM
To: Developing cohousing - collaborative housing communities
Subject: [C-L]_ Environmental values

Our community is beginning to consider our values surrounding environmental
concerns.  We had a successful weekend retreat in which we made a list of
our values, but although "caring for the environment" 
was on the list, we are having trouble nailing down exactly what this means.

I am interested to hear what other communities have done to identify common
environmental values.

-Maggi Rohde
  Touchstone Cohousing, Ann Arbor, MI

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