Re: recruitment screening and rentals
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2013 11:06:36 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all --

For built communities, I am most curious about how you tell the "chaf" that 
your community is not the community for them.  If they want to buy a home and 
the seller wants to sell ... how is it that you keep "chaff" from mixing w/ 
your resident "wheat?"

I'm especially thinking of circumstances where charges of discrimination can 
figure in -- and yes it has happened this is not a "what if?" -- how do  you 
handle "chaff" w/ a legal charge? (This has NOT happened in my home community.  
It was in a forming community.)

BTW -- we also have a process of inviting prospective owners to dinner, a 
general meeting, a team meeting, meeting w/ community members, etc etc etc and 
I've heard these prospective neighbors EXTOLLING the virtues of living in 
community and how they will participate and contribute.  After signing the 
papers, getting the keys to their new home ... never see evidence of 
participation.  Don't come to meetings, don't serve on teams, don't come to 
work days but they enjoy using all the parts of the community and participating 
in social events.

Do you have folks like these in your community?  If so, what conversation(s) 
are you having w/ them? 

Note:  some of the worst "chaff" we have in the community are founding members 
... some of the very best "wheat" are renters and "newcomers."  It's not all 
one way ...My guess is a lot of this can be avoided earlier on by having 
serious, in depth discussions about what individuals expect in terms of 
participation which lead to guidelines.  If you have a set are guidelines ... 
are you willing to call people to accountability around them?

Why didn't we have these discussions during development?  Quite possibly 
because we all thought we were on the same page, we had stars in our eyes or 
... we were just too stressed from marketing, sales, design, etc. to see what 
was out there. 

 Now ... we have the luxury of having some communities 25+ years experience to 
draw on.  We now know that development of a cohousing community is a short 
sometimes painful 2-5 years (or greater!) but it's over.  The "living happily 
ever after" is the real focus of organizing efforts.  What you do in the 
development stage to create your social/community norms -- your community 
culture -- you will live w/ a very very long time.  It's really hard to change 
once people have moved in.

I'd like to hear from others on this.

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Mar 15, 2013, at 1:40 PM, R.N. Johnson wrote:

> When we were forming, we found that asking potential members to get involved 
> separated the wheat from the chaff  pretty well. Now that we are in 
> residence, we ask new people to come to a  meal,  a committee meeting, a 
> business meeting and if possible, a work party or social event.  That gives 
> us a good chance to get to know them and vice versa, and to see them in 
> several different environments.  When they have been through the various 
> events both sides have a pretty good idea of what they are getting into.  
> I would add that it is a serious warning sign if someone  believes they are 
> always right.  Now most of us are pretty sure we are on the side of the 
> righteous most of the time, but some people always know best, and these folk, 
> however pleasant, create havoc in a consensus system.   People who are always 
> right cannot let the smallest detail go against their inner convictions, and 
> will hold up everything from where to locate to the color of the mailbox to 
> the name of the finance committee. They may have tremendous skills to offer 
> the community, but if they can't listen to others, it just won't work. 
> Renters can add a lot to a cohousing community. Many of the problems 
> attributed to renters have much more to do with absentee landlords. If people 
> within the community are renting out rooms or units, they will likely 
> continue to take good care of the properties, and will have a stake in 
> resolving any difficulties. We ask anyone renting to find tenants who are 
> interested in participating.  We have two long term renters at New Brighton 
> who have participated in the community for years, and aside from not coming 
> to business meetings, are as much involved in the community as any of us (and 
> more than some owners).  Allowing rentals will make it easier for people of 
> different incomes, ages and stages in life to participate in your community.  
>  Our most recent owner member came as a renter and loved it so much she 
> decided to buy in. 
> Randa Johnson
> New Brighton Cohousing
> Aptos, CA
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at: 

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.