Re: Looking for advice about enhancing our Friends
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 09:24:06 -0800 (PST)

On Jan 22, 2008, at 7:02 PM, Jonnie Pekelny wrote:

The question I am asking is about people who want to support us in some way, be involved with us in some way, but are not on track to move in with us.

I did misunderstand the question. We wanted this before we moved in but it caused several problems. Before move-in our meetings were focused around business, often with food before hand. In such meetings, what is the role of friends in that? Their comments are often resented unless they are purely giving information. When they give opinions, it isn't much appreciated because they won't be affected by the decision. Their opinion just confuses the issue.

When new potential members are trying to form relationships, it may be easier for some people to have fewer people to get to know. The presence of "outsiders" dilutes the group. And the friends may provide information and opinions that do not represent the group.

In our case, the people who had been members and dropped out, didn't stay on as friends, except with individuals.

It was a dream when we moved in to have associate members in the neighborhood, particularly to participate in meals, but it never materialized. Our lawyer said to wait because we had enough to deal with. She also said that if we had associate members it made our legal structure questionable because we would no longer be just a condominium. We might be classified as a club. She said she would look into it when we were ready to include more people. We never got to that point.

We are a large community, 85 people now, and our dinners were very large when we moved in -- 50-60 people with guests. They are smaller now, but still the dining room is often crowded.

We do have several people who are friends of members and have attended dinners, etc., as the members' guests. They are in effect so well known to us, they seem like community members. But they only attend social functions and always with their host. Some former members have maintained rather loose relationships with individuals so they can use the guest rooms when they are in town and then they do attend meals. But these are people who no longer live near us.

We have had one or two people who wanted to "hang out" on their own but individual community members had very mixed feelings about this -- partly because of the personalities. In the long run, most members have not encouraged this. One problem is who is "supervising" them? Do they know the "rules"? Do they have the security codes to the entrances? It's like having people who have free access to your private home.

So in short, we don't have a policy on this and have not discussed it in membership meetings. It just worked out the way it has.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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