From: Kirk or Esther Mueller (
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2005 19:59:13 -0700 (PDT)
thanks so much for posting this. I have passed this along to come members of our discussion group for consideration and modification to fit our needs.
On Friday, August 5, 2005, at 06:45 PM, pattymara [at] wrote:

Hi from Tierra Nueva, central CA coast:
We have fully explored associate membership in our 7 years of living here. Currently we have two families who live in privately owned homes bordering our 5 acre site, who participate in our community life as associate members.

We researched the legality of this and decided to keep the arrangements as "understandings" with a written and consensed document, rather than official legal contracts.

We too believe in the fairness of assessing the value of community resources, and the notion that "good boundaries make good neighbors".

When a family wishes to apply for associate membership, they choose or are given a sponsor within Tierra Nueva to help them get through the process of application, proposal and consensus.

We have learned that each case is unique, because each family or applicant has different needs and desires and abilities to > participate. So we craft the agreement based on the individual and mutual needs of the applicant(s) AND our community.

Our first associate membership took about 6 months to formulate. The next few application processes were shorter, because of our experience with the first. We have not accepted all of the applications for a variety of reasons.

Basically the agreement describes what the applicant wishes to bring to Tierra Nueva (skills, passions, willingness to serve on particular committees, plus an annual gift of goods-not money) as a fair exchange for the value of what they wish to gain from the community, which shared resources they'd like to use, how they want to participate in meetings (general participation, discussion on all items but no voting rights) etc. It is all spelled out in rich detail, and celebrated when the final agreement is proposed and consensed at a business meeting. Then we do a formal, fun "Invitation" to the applicants to become associate members.

It's worked well for us, and we adore our associate members. One is the manager of our organic avocado orchard, two are avid "Comida Nueva" cooks, and another is a family of children very involved in friendships with community kids, and their mom is one of our yoga teachers. They all bring a rich and nourishing diversity to Tierra Nueva.

It can be done, with clearly articulated expectations, boundaries and agreements.

PattyMara Gourley
Tierra Nueva, central CA coast
where the bees from our new beehives have pollinated an unbelievable crop of baby avocados.
"Recruiters say the greatest single obstacle to military recruitment is parents."

-- Kirk or Esther Mueller <muellers1 [at]> wrote:
Great comment.
It explains a lot to me about related items with respect to sharing.
On Thursday, August 4, 2005, at 08:42 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

On Aug 4, 2005, at 9:09 PM, Kirk or Esther Mueller wrote:
on bike or on foot.  It's kind of a capitalist (I own it -- keep out)
versus socialist (it belongs to all of us, to share, from our
position of plenty) thing.  I don't walk thru the trespassers
backyard, why is it OK for them to walk thru mine (a capitalist >> view).

Sharing means sharing equally. Work as well as usage. When you do the
maintenance and they do the taking, that is not sharing. Some would
even say it is codependent -- you are encouraging a dysfunctional
relationship. It's important to help others learn respect and

(exaggerated for emphasis)

Sharon Villines
Building Community: A Newsletter on Coops, Condos, Cohousing, and
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