Re: sample document library: laying the groundwork
From: Stuart Joseph (
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 10:35:27 -0800 (PST)
Thanks for taking this on.
Please see below for my comments and suggestions.

Andrew Netherton wrote:
Hello everyone,

On 2/12/07, in a thread formerly known as "how can a new group use
existing knowledge?", Tree Bressen <tree [at]> wrote:
6. Over the years there has been talk, and even some initial attempts made,
at compiling a library of sample documents.  Policies on specific subjects,
and so on.  I have the impression that this project has never been
completed into a usable form, and that's very unfortunate.

Knowing this may absolutely bury me in e-mail for a good couple of
months, I would like to step forward and volunteer to compile such a
library.  I'm not sure how (or how quickly), but I'll figure that out
as I get submissions.  Before I put out a call for submissions, I'd
like to get some feedback on the submission guidelines I've drafted:

1) File format: text or PDF only.  Please don't send Word files,
scanned images, PowerPoint presentations, just plain text or PDF.
This is to make sure the result is as neutral and accessible as

2) No copyrighted documents.  The purpose of this is to share, and to
allow other groups to borrow liberally to form their own
documentation.  I'm not sure if this would ever be an issue, but may
as well addresss it up front.
That would actually be any documents written after 1923. Under copyright law anything that is published in any for is automatically copyrighted.

I think it would be safer to:
1. say that if a work is submitted, it is understood that it could be used by other people and they have permission to do so.
2. Folks can only use the items in the library with the owner's permission
3. The submitter has the authority to submit the works.

An alternative would be for the Submitters to put the works under a Creative Commons License, which has different classifications.

   Share, reuse, and remix — legally.

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

We're a nonprofit organization. Everything we do — including the software we create — is free.

Information about CCL can be found here:

3) Each document must have a Title (so we know what we're looking at
and how to organize it in the sample catalogue), and contain the
submitting group's name, location, and contact information (minimum
one of e-mail address, phone number, postal address).

Any other guidelines that would be helpful?

One thought I had was to ask that only groups that are 2 years or more
past move-in submit,
I believe it depends on what documents you are talking about. The Caer Coburn Vision and Values Statement and Membership Rules was based upon those of Wild Onion, which dissolved before it was built. BTW, I did have permission from the group to do so.

Perhaps a disclaimer about the status of the group could be added.
 as they will be the groups that have fully
exercised all their policies, from first forming through to actual
operation.  Yes, groups that are formed but haven't moved in may have
something to contribute, but I can't think of a better way to make
sure the documents we're sampling have actually been tested through
use and change.
I think that the disclaimer would inform the folks that look at the document can decide for themselves if they want to use it or not.

Here is a hypothetical scenario:
A new group has their HOA drawn up by a lawyer and a group that has built wrote their own HOA without legal advice, which would be more likely to stand up in court?

My preference would be to use both- at least to pick out some of the good stuff from the self-written HOA that would apply to our situation. Of course, I would have our HOA looked over by our lawyer to make sure it was legal and binding in our state.
Lastly, once it's all compiled, is there anyone out there that would
be willing to make this sample library available online?
I would be willing to host it, my hosting company is very good and inexpensive. If anyone would like information about my hosting company, 1&1, you can find it here:

If yo use that link, I will get a commission if you sign up.
Andrew Netherton
Laurel Creek Commons (looking for documents ourselves)
Waterloo, ON, Canada
Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Stuart Joseph, 802-463-1954
Project Director
Caer Coburn, a traditional village based upon  and intentional communities
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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