Re: Valuation for Common Facilities use
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 10:15:52 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon lists a lot of valid issues. Here at RoseWind Cohousing, we have been very limited in outside uses of the common house, over these past 9 years. We have 24 households. The CH gets used for Personal Socials (family reunions, cast parties, birthday parties for members or their kids) and a great many Sponsored Events. For the latter, a member must (a) be a participant in the organization or event, themselves and (b) be there start to finish, with designated responsibilities to ensure clean up etc. Uses that are more than one- time events, such as every-Tuesday, or four Wednesdays, need to be run by the whole community to check against other calls for use of those times. We have, over time, renewed the weekly use of the CH for rehearsals of a choir that involves a number of members and neighbors, so that it has been used for almost two years that way. Most events are a single day or weekend.

Our charges are minimal ($10 minimum, $1 per person for sponsored events with more than 10 attendees), but they add up to about $1600 a year, which is applied to the costs of operating the common house, in our annual budget calculations.

Having a member present and responsible has kept the impact down considerably. In fact, events often leave the space cleaner than it was before. Even non-owner residents are supposed to have a member present. A couple of renters who've been here for years have evolved into being OK in there on their own, but still they couldn't be event sponsors.

When we loosened up a bit -- not to the point of out-and-out renting use of the space, but letting members sponsor events that they weren't really part of -- we found much less care for the physical space, and backed up to the former system described above. So, no, I can't sponsor your sister's brother-in-law's wedding reception. Likewise, one year we got our kitchen "certified" for food prep for public consumption, but didn't renew that because we had a flood of requests that, for example, made hundreds of crepes for a festival, but left a film of oil over half the kitchen. It felt like there were strangers in "our" house. And we had to clean up after them, as volunteers.

I think a sense of ownership is vital, if one expects things to be cared for as if they were one's own. Lacking that, one needs to charge enough for paid housekeeping, furniture repair, appliance repair, etc, and have less of a sense of "our living room" for those who do own it.

I wonder whether you could offer a contractual use that involved participating in work parties, specified cleaning responsibilities beyond the use times themselves? Something that would heighten a sense of personal responsibility for the space.

Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend WA

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