Re: [C-L]_ Associate Members
From: Dave and Diane (
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 18:12:32 -0700 (PDT)
Hi all,
At JP Cohousing in Boston we required members to go through
the clearness process before they were eligible to become full
members. If they went through the clearness process and did not
follow through with becoming a full member any other new person
was able to pull ahead of them. As a "buddy" to several potential
full members I warned them about this. We needed people to support
the project and buy houses and we could not afford to allow people
the luxury of sitting on the fence for prolonged periods of time.
Everyone reacts differently to this kind of situation. Some people
take the plunge and put their money on a unit, and others pull
back altogether. We did not have time limit on how long you
could be an associate member, although we did discuss it.

Also, if you went through clearness and there was no unit you
wanted at that time, you could put down $2000 and go on the
waiting list. But you still had to go through the clearness
process again if a unit became available and it was more than
60 days since your last clearness meeting. This was designed
to prevent the situation you describe, in which someone joined
and then vaporized. Cohousing is a very fast-paced process
and you need people to be up-to-date on the latest design changes
and membership decisions.

In order to pull together a clearness committee, you needed
to have your buddy tell others in the group that you were
ready to go through Clearness. The buddy would then need to
find two people, one from the business committee, and one
from any other committee, to be in on the clearness meeting.
The purpose of the business committee person was to ask the
member some tough financial questions to make sure they knew
what they were doing and could afford the unit they wanted
to put a down payment on.

The process only failed once, to my knowledge, when we did not
follow our own procedure and make sure the business person
was there. A member managed to get through clearness without
being clear if they could afford the unit they wanted. That
was not a good situation. In that case, it was decided by
the person who got their finances in order first.

If a person disappeared for a long time it became very hard
for the buddy to pull together a clearness committee. Bear in mind,
being on a clearness panel was a lot of work, and people were
not willing to do this for people they had no knowledge of.
So for us, the problem more or less sorted itself out by
the fact that involved people were able to get people to
be on their clearness panels, and inactive people were not.

Toward the end, you will have a lot of people in a frenzy
desperately trying to bug you to get clearness meetings and
rush their checks in to you so they can beat out the other people
for that last spot. As a former marketing director, I have
to say, this is not altogether a bad position to be in!
Just make sure that everyone gets equal notification of
meetings and give everyone was much opportunity to get involved
as possible. We had counted both general meetings and social
events as "involvement." If you have a web site make sure you post
prominently on the front page each week how many units
are left. We welcomed new members over the listserv so that
everyone would know that a new member had joined the group.

Good luck and let us know how you do!
--Diane Simpson
  JP Cohousing, Boston

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On Wednesday, September 14, 2005, at 06:16 AM, Judy Hecht wrote:

Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 13:42:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Judy Hecht <judhee [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ Associate Members

Some people, for one reason or another, finances or
life-decisions for example, stay on the associate
member waiting list for a prolonged period of time. As
new associate members apply and move into membership,
the associate members on the list are contacted to let
them know that someone will move ahead of them in the
line-up of unit selection. They have the opportunity
at that time to become full members before the new
person. So far this has not been a problem but as we
near the last few units we anticipate that it could
be, especially if a really involved new person was
bumped by someone who had just had their name on the
list for a long time. How have other groups handled
this? Is there a limit for how long someone can stay
on the list? Are there involvement requirements for
people on the list?

Judy Hecht
CoHo Cohousing

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