Re: Community-building activities prior to move-in
From: R.N. Johnson (
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 10:54:53 -0800 (PST)
1) Activities that your cohousing group did prior to move-in
-Spend time on getting to know each other better activities.  Whether to do 
specific activities or do it more informally will depend on whose in your 
group. Game nights worked well for us as an informal way to enjoy each other's 
company and get to know each other better.
-Have a conflict resolution workshop,  and add 15- 20 minutes of skills 
practice to meetings now and then.
-We did some fun visioning activities around what we wanted our landscaping and 
common areas to look like. We split into two teams to come up with landscaping 
ideas,  with each team drawing or painting a rough plan,and a lot of great 
ideas came out of the exercise
(although it will take us another 5-10 years to put them all into practice).. 
-I would recommend getting together a volunteer team of 3 or 4 to cook your 
monthly meal at someone's house, even before you move in. Working together to 
cook a meal is a great bonding activity, as well as a preview to what you will 
be doing once you move in. 
Getting together to work on a project is another great way to build 
relationships- building a shed, planting a garden, helping to pack up someone's

2) Activities that you wish you had done
I wish we had organized a more of a move- in ritual. We helped each other move 
in on an informal basis, but a celebration would have been great.

3) Activities that continued or started once you were using your common 
We get together in the common house to make specials foods, like pizza, 
cookies, or "salad people"  out of fruits and vegies.   We have game nights and 
craft gatherings, where anyone can bring whatever handicraft they are working 

4) Activities that attracted new members
Anything fun!

5) Activities that attracted families with children  
We had some potlucks and one retreat to plan our outdoor space at different 
parks. that way the kids could play together, and the parents could have a 
chance to talk with other adults in a relatively uninterrupted fashion. 
Having childcare available at meetings and orientations makes big difference. 
Scheduling meetings and events earlier also helps attract parents of young 

6) How to keep connected during the busy move-in and adjustment period
Encourage people to have mini potlucks of a few households, and to have 
coffee/tea hour or happy hour together as a break from move-in stress.  One of 
our members who had moved in earlier was the unofficial greeter, offerer of 
snacks, and helped several of us get that last load in. I would recommend 
instituting something like that officially- it was a wonderful way to begin 
life in community.
7) Any other suggestions for us, during this pre-completion time
Moving in is a big stressor, and normally wonderful, reasonable people may 
become snappish and irritable and make mountains out of molehills for a while. 
Treat each other gently, and don't take things too seriously. Several veteran 
cohousers passed this advice on to me, and I found it tremendously helpful in 
re framing the inevitable minor conflicts that come up as a temporary phase, 
not a permanent institution.  Not to say that there won't ever be conflict in 
community, but that people are rarely at their best during move-in.


Randa Johnson
New Brighton Cohousing
Aptos, CA


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