Sustaining Community Energy article by Annie Russell
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005 08:44:12 -0700 (PDT)
Mary Anne Joyce <maj7900 [at]> sent the short 2004 article by Annie
Russell "Sustaining Community Energy" as a PDF file which the list does
not distribute.  Below is a version converted to text suitable for email.

The original pdf article is available at:
or as converted to text by Google at:
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>


Too often by the way we run our meetings, we treat community energy as a
never ending resource, or a well that will never run dry. But the truth
is, there is only a finite amount of community energy and if you squander
it, it's very difficult to retrieve. People will simply stop

Just as we value sustainability in our building practices, we must learn
to value sustainability and be mindful of how we use community energy.
Below are some practices that build community energy or drain it.

BUILDS ENERGY                    

+ Well run meetings.
+ Chances for members to build friendships.
+ Problems resolved quickly with appropriate input.
+ Member differences are discussed and taken into account when decisions
  are made.
+ Communication is open and honest. Conflict arises and is resolved with
  win/win solutions.
+ Decisions are made in a timely way and only reopened for good reason.
+ Decisions made are regularly questioned or reopened often for review.


- A few people dominate meetings.
- People only get together for business meetings.
- Same problems keep coming up, and don't get resolved.
- Members continually clash around differences and don't talk about and
  learn to work with differences.
- Conflict is squelched. More vocal members unduly influence decisions.
  People don't say what's on their minds.
- Decisions made are regularly questioned or reopened often for review.
- Leaders are attacked, ignored, or allowed to continue in their roles
  until they are burned out.

If participation is dwindling in your community consider reviewing these
practices and improving where there are opportunities.

Annie Russell 2004

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