Re: associate membership policies
From: drmaryann49 (
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2014 15:43:09 -0800 (PST)
Early on we had a renter who intended to be a long-term resident (didn’t work 
out that way but that’s another story). This renter actively campaigned for all 
renters to have full rights in the community and this is reflected in our 
policies which give all categories of members essentially the same rights and 

We’ve had several types of renters over the years, including 1) people who 
really want to be in the community but for whatever reason can’t be homeowners, 
2) people “trying out” the community with the anticipation they’ll become 
homeowners, 3) transients who are more interested in a place to live at a 
reasonable rate then living in cohousing. People in the first category have 
made excellent members who happily participate in the community in every 
possible way. People in the second category either love it here and move from 
being renters to being homeowners quickly or the find out that cohousing 
doesn’t work for them and move on. 

Its the people in the third category that can be problematic. Many of these 
people are invisible not involved in the community at all. Many come, live 
among us, and leave with barely a blip on the community radar. Sometimes they 
cause problems because they don’t understand the differences between renting in 
a community and renting anywhere else but their time among us is so short that 
doesn’t seem to really matter. 

Our community culture is to treat all new renters as either type #1 or #2 
depending on their circumstances but to allow people to fall into type #3 if 
that’s where they want to be. We haven’t really had problems with some of the 
issues implied in the questions you suggest. Since we use consensus for 
decision-making everyone’s voice is heard but no one person can control our 
long-term plans, policies, etc. It’s possible that someone who is only with us 
a short time may have a great idea for the community. It’d be too bade to lose 
that because they’re “only a renter”.

Mary Ann
Manzanita Village where the sun has returned after two day of blessed rain

On Mar 1, 2014, at 9:26 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:

> For me, the lesser issue is that of fit and role of people living offsite, 
> but interested in cohousing, and perhaps candidates for buying in.  It’s 
> certainly to our communal advantage to maintain a favorable image in our 
> region, and to have a list of households who see themselves as possible 
> future neighbors.  But I don’t care a lot, one way or the other, whether such 
> parties are “associates”, or coming to help on workdays, or participating in 
> revising our pet policy, or paying us money.
> What’s more interesting to me is, What do we do about renters?  That is, 
> those residents who live with us on our site, sometimes for years — and who 
> often have valuable skills and/or real interest in trying out intentional 
> community — but whose names are not logged in at the Registry of Deeds.  Do 
> we really want them to have fewer rights and responsibilities than absentee 
> landlords (of which Cornerstone usually has a couple, sometimes more)?  Do we 
> really want them meddling in our long-term plans and policies, when they 
> might pick up and flee at any moment?  Are the expectations different for 
> someone who rents a room in a member’s unit, as opposed to someone renting 
> the entire unit permanently vacated, but not released to market, by a former 
> member?  What?
> What are others doing about this?
> On Mar 1, 2014, at 11:04 AM, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]> 
> wrote:
>> I'll add that I've been chatting with some of our associates who are NOT 
>> happy with our policy.
>> Essentially "have the same rights and responsibilities as members" does not 
>> feel good to folk who try to live up to the letter of the law. 
>> Despite very active involvement they feel guilty for not coming to meetings, 
>> don't WANT to be allowed to speak to "what its like to live here" issues, 
>> feel they should not have equal role in consensus decision making, and don't 
>> think they should have to do the same level of work.
>> So we still have some work to do.
>> -Liz
>> (The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
>> 508-450-0431
>> On Feb 28, 2014, at 8:41 AM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 
>> wrote:
>>> At Mosaic Commons we do have associate members, meaning in this case
>>> non-resident members.
>>> We spent a lot of time and energy working out a much clearer policy.
>>> *MEMBERS* must be residents (;
>>> others are *ASSOCIATES* (
>>> (All this is separate from our HOA, in which membership is clear: it's for
>>> owners, period.  After all, that's what the "O" is HOA stands for :-)
>>> Diana
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To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only 
end of life. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Mary Ann Clark                                                  drmaryann49 
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