Re: Associate Membership
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 09:09:57 -0800 (PST)
At Cornerstone Cohousing in Cambridge, our membership concept still has some
fuzzy edges.  In general, members are supposed to be (adult) owners, and the
owners are the members.  On the other hand, we have at least one household
where only one of the two spouses has a name on the deed ? but as you might
imagine, the other spouse is treated with equal standing.  We¹re not big on
lists of rules here, and we have no official program of Associate or Junior

However, when it comes to consensus, we do it by household, not by
individual: one household equals one thumb.  Households are expected to
approach the consensus effort with a unified opinion.  So from the
standpoint of participatory democracy, it is the household that is the

Renters are a special case.  Technically, they are not members, although
they can and do hold proxies for absentee owners.   Many of them are
welcome, regular and valued participants in our community life.  However,
there has been considerable confusion, even disagreement, about whether
renters have chore duties or not.

We do maintain a modest, non-selective waiting list of ³friends² of
Cornerstone who might someday take a unit here.  But we tend not to see very
much of these folks.

So altogether, it¹s a work in progress.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On 2/23/11 10:34 AM, "Douglas G. Larson" <ddhle [at]> wrote:

>> >I am chair of the Membership Committee at Rocky Hill Cohousing.  We would
> like to know how other communities handle Associate Members.  We are
> particularly interested in individuals or families who
>> >live outside the cohousing community but would like to participate in it's
> life, and possibly decision making.  Do you charge a fee, do they come to
> regular meetings, are they voted in by the group,
>> >do you have an application process, or recruitment strategy, benefits for
> both parties, etc.
>> >In addition to these questions, we would like to know how you deal with
> resident Associate Members. We have several renters and also five households
> who are Associate Members by the fact that they
>> >live on the road coming up to our community.  These five households do pay
> a monthly fee for the use of our Common House, and most of them and the
> renters participate as much as our regular members.  >However we have no
> clear-cut rule for their participation in our voting process.
> We have 3 levels of Associate membership at Songaia. In addition we have
> renters, who could be considered a 4th level.
> Our levels are 
>   Level 1 - Friend - Pays a donation
>   Level 2 - Familiar - Pays $7.50 per month
>   Level 3 - Proximal Resident - Pays $15 per month
>   Renters - Pays $25 per month
> The level 3 associates are only people who live on adjacent property.
> Renters live on property.
> Each level has certain rights and responsibilities with level 1 having the
> least and renters having the most. The rights and responsibilities of each
> level are cumulative, with each higher level having all the rights of the
> levels below it. The details of these rights is too complex to include here
> but I will send you a copy offline if you wish to see it.
> Our current policy is about 3 years old now but we spent many hundreds of
> hours composing, revising and getting consensus on our Associate membership
> policy. I believe further revisions are in process now.
> I am not sure exactly how many associate members we have but I would
> estimate it at about 15 or so. Three of those are renters who live on
> property. 
> Douglas G. Larson,
> Songaia Cohousing,
> Bothell, Washington
> The trouble with learning from experience is that you never graduate
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