Re: Extending Membership
From: Ken Winter (
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2015 12:56:05 -0800 (PST)
At Sunward we have long had "associate members", which are very much like
the "sponsored members" Lynn describes.  To become an associate member, you
have to be initially sponsored by an owner-member but once accepted your
associate membership no longer depends on your sponsor.  You have full
rights to participate in all community activities, including developing and
discussing proposed community agreements.  However, in all community
decisions (community meeting decisions and elections to the board of
directors), the entity that gets a vote (or the right to block) is an owned
unit, and the official decider for each unit is its owner(s).  Any impact a
renter or other non-owner resident has on the unit's vote is purely at the
discretion of the unit's owner(s).  This has worked quite well for 15

Lately some energy has arisen to give non-owners more equality with owners
in decision-making - specifically, to go to a one-person-one-vote decision
rule (rather than one-unit-one-vote) for at least some community
decisions.  In addition to shifting the owner/non-owner balance, this would
also shift the balance in favor of households with many people vs those
with few.  I'd be interested to hear what other communities do on this

~ Ken, from Sunward Cohousing, Ann Arbor MI

On Sat, Jan 10, 2015 at 3:20 PM, Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah <welcome [at]>

> Extending membership:
> In our long-built community, membership, with its rights and
> responsibilities, is defined by property ownership here. We now have a
> situation where a new household -- very participatory -- includes one
> partner who doesn't happen to be a legal co-owner of the property. We are
> looking at coming up with a policy that an Owner/Member can "sponsor"
> eligibility for membership rights for one or two people who live on their
> property and want to participate. Being thus designated by a Sponsor would
> qualify the Sponsored Member to participate as an equal in decision making,
> count in a quorum, have full use of common facilities, hold office in the
> organization, etc. as long as the Sponsor continued to support that, as
> long as the residency continued. Seems like a good solution for domestic
> partners, enthusiastic renters or housemates. We will be discussing this,
> and I wonder if anyone would like to point out potential glitches we should
> think about?
> As far as getting people we wouldn't have chosen, this is already the case
> with our open-market real estate: we do our best to inform potential
> buyers, but in no way can prevent Just Anybody from buying a resale and
> joining us. So adding the possibility of someone's girlfriend or housemate
> not pleasing us doesn't seem like a major risk.
> Our assessments are per household, and such sponsored members would be
> considered part of the Sponsor's household.
> Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
> RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
> where our coho and the neighboring EcoVillage will be just minutes away
> from the newly-forming Quimper Village Senior Cohousing project which is
> making solid progress!
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