Re: Welcoming new members
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2012 07:15:30 -0800 (PST)
On 26 Jan 2012, at 10:08 AM, Spencer Beard wrote:

> Our developing cohousing group is at a stage wherein a core group of 5
> families has been working together for 1.5 years and we are ready to bring
> in new neighbors. I was wondering what kind (if any) of welcoming ceremonies
> other cohousing groups may use to mark a prospective member's decision to
> actually join the community?

If I read this correctly you are still in the forming stage. In my experience 
this stage is so busy and there is so much work to do that after an orientation 
the ceremony is a happy smile and "what team do you want to join" and "what are 
you good at" and "this is the date of our next meeting." 

> At that point in the process, our new people
> will have had a "buddy" family assigned and have attended a number of
> meetings, both social and business. 

The person doing their orientation can serve this purpose best because they 
know them but choose others as appropriate. Since this is well before move-in, 
it isn't a huge task — just being sure that someone is making follow-up 
telephone, email, or text connections and is available to take questions 
outside of meetings.

> But how do any of you mark the change in status from "interested" to
> "committed"?

You take the check and say thank you. And you will be lucky to have time to say 
thank you.

I'm not being cynical. It's just that this is the time for a focus on work and 
getting things done. An attitude of inclusiveness and responsiveness and 
outreach to new members is probably as much as you will be able to sustain. 

The number of people who will come to orientations and not join is huge and has 
nothing to do with what you do. It's 99% in their own circumstances. Rarely 
will it be because they didn't have a buddy. People can claim that they were 
"turned off" by some incident but if they are really interested and right for 
your group, they will persist. And unless you attract persistent people, the 
group won't make it to move-in anyway so relax and focus on what needs to done 
or decided next.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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