Re: Looking for advice about enhancing our Friends policy
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 07:38:18 -0800 (PST)
Jonnie Pekelny wrote:
                > I'd love to hear stories of Friends networks that work.
How do you  
                > get Friends involved in your community? How much access to
                > forums/mailing lists, whatever, do you give them, and how
do you  
                > keep those lists active? 

To which Sharon Villines replied:
                > I think at some point you have to get the everyone to fish
or cut  
                > bait. 

Eris speaking now. <soapbox on>

I think it is VERY important to think/discuss/agree about the PURPOSE of
your Friends network, Associate Membership policy, etc.  

I personally think the primary purpose should be to give new folks a chance
to "try on" the community on their way to becoming full members. There still
needs to be some sort of financial buy-in, and there should be some limits
on their decision-making participation. It may also be useful to have a time
limit, as to how long folks can be Friends/Associates before they fish or
cut bait, e.g. become full members or leave. You don't want folks who are
never going to move in to suck energy from the group, influence decisions
under which they will never live, etc.

During my own community's forming & developing stages, we had a two-tiered
structure - Full & Associate members. There were members who wanted a third
Friends category (although we called it something else, I can't quite
remember what). These were the friends, supporters, folks who wanted to be
involved in social events, etc. Some folks still think we should have a more
formal structure now for folks like this (including "alumni" who have lived
here but don't anymore). We never went there, I think because nobody could
satisfactorily answer this question: How would having this category of
membership SERVE OUR COMMUNITY? Will it make our job of getting this place
built easier or happier? Will it help us to function better? Sure, cohousers
are cool people and lots of our friends like to hang out on our fringes - we
welcome them to some social functions, especially when they bring good food
& drinks<grin>.  But when you are in the phase of working your butts off,
investing your life savings, making big decisions about how you are going to
live together - you don't want to waste time and energy trying to somehow
meet the needs/wants of folks who aren't going to ever be a part of that.

I think part of what happens here is that we are all idealistic people and
we don't just want a nice place for ourselves to live, we want to change the
world…so we think we have to be all things to all  people who are interested
in hanging out with us. But we can't do everything at once, and while we are
spending all of our resources finding land, designing, building, etc. we
really need to take care of ourselves and focus on getting the current work
done without distractions.

<soapbox off>

Eris Weaver, Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
eris [at]

fa cil' i tāt: to make easier

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