General Meetings and visitors
From: Ruth Hirsch (
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2012 21:10:08 -0800 (PST)
Hi, Greg,

Good question.  I will tell you what we did, and I still appreciate it as 
having worked well for us.

We invited interested folks to come to an Open House before each business 
We offered snacks: lemonade and graham crackers, usually.   
One or two of use would give a tour of the land.  
Then we would all gather for questions folks might want to ask us, and of 
course to introduce ourselves. 
I think we then had a potluck lunch, and then meetings began.  Folks were 
invited to stay.
these were pretty long days!

Currently we have anOpenHouse once a month.  Folks are welcome to sit in on our 
meeting which starts at 4pm, after the Open House Tour.  Occasionally we have 
needed privacy for a discussion.  We moved in over ten years ago, and this has 
happened only once or twice.  Mostly, folks are welcome to see our actual 

Hope your group finds a way that is comfortable for you,

On Jan 17, 2012, at 6:16 AM, cohousing-l-request [at] wrote:

Message: 1
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 09:31:47 -0500 (EST)
From: Greg Nelson <ghn [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ General Meetings and visitors
To: cohousing-l [at]
Message-ID: <201201151431.q0FEVlV13807 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

A while back, Sharon Villines wrote:

> I'm always surprised to find that members of the community consider 
> Membership Meetings and the Members Only email list to be "public"
> forums. I consider them to be private, between-us forums in which one can 
> talk openly and ask questions.

I'm interested in hearing more on this topic especially regarding
meetings.  Since we are still growing (5/30 households built so far
with another 3-4 families hoping to build this year), our community is
currently using General Meetings as a forum for new prospective
members to come and meet the membership and learn more about us.  I'll
summarize some of our experiences with this below.  But I'm wondering
what others do (or did) during this phase of bringing new people on
board while also conducting ongoing business?

+ Visitors get a better sense of what community process is like.
+ We get great input from our visitors.
+ Visitors feel empowered because their input is heard by the
+ People who aren't scared away by the meeting process seem to make
 good members in the long run.

- Current members sometimes feel "embarrassed" by airing our "dirty
 laundry" in front of people we barely know.
- Visitors are often exposed to more of what is challenging (and thus
 requires meeting time) than what is working well (and thus happening
 outside of meetings).

Thanks for your thoughts,
Greg Nelson                     email:  terramantra [at]
White Hawk Ecovillage           phone:  607-273-2576
Ithaca, NY 14850                web:

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