Re: handling donations
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2015 10:56:25 -0800 (PST)
At Mosaic Commons, we have "room teams" that are in charge of, among other
things, deciding what stuff goes or stays in a room.  Everyone is
encouraged to join room teams if they care strongly about what happens in
that room.  Most of the teams do a lot of their discussion in email (that
goes just to the team), so interested folks can join the team and therefore
know if their favorite Hoojiwhatsit is on the chopping block.

This year the Kids' Room team did a massive clean-out, because the sheer
volume of toys in the room made it hard to keep clean, and a lot of the
toys didn't align well with the ages and interests of the kids who frequent
the room.  As a team, they did have the authority to make that decision
without input from the whole plenary, and that makes total sense to me.  I
think there were people who cared about the toys who objected, but
personally I think this team system encourages people to get involved with
caring for the areas of the community that are important to them.

There are limits.  By policy, if a room team wants to make a permanent
change (like installing shelves, which requires mounting hardware on the
wall) they need to post plans and get a period of time for community
input.  If they want to make  *structural change* (like adding a wall or
cutting a window) they'd need approval of the Trustees.  And if their plans
required a substantial amount of money, they'd need plenary approval for
the expense.

But overall, it seems to work well to delegate managing room decisions to
the people most invested in the activity in that room: cooks on the Kitchen
Team; parents on the Kids Room Team; and fitness buffs on the Exercise Room


On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 1:34 PM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> 

> Thanks for your answer.  It illustrates the point I was trying to
> explore:  There is a delicate balance between avoiding bad or unpopular
> choices by getting everyone’s input, and wearing everyone out by making
> everything — even the tossing of junk — a laborious communal decision.  I
> imagine most cohos are constantly seeking and adjusting for the best
> balance point — some, with more success than others.
> At Cornerstone, we are (in my view) tilted too far toward the “nothing
> happens until everyone has discussed in full” mode.  Some of us are working
> to move the pivot toward the other end of the scale.  I’ll let you know if
> we ever go too far, and have the problem of Lone Rangers persistently
> throwing out valuable junk.
> > On Jan 21, 2015, at 1:21 PM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] 
> >>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> >> On Jan 21, 2015, at 1:09 PM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]>
> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> Do you mean literally, one person?  That is, a single individual acting
> alone, without reference to any community-recognized group officially
> charged with indoor pruning?  Is this really a problem of failing to check
> with the donor of origin (an identity often lost to institutional memory) —
> rather than a unilateral behavior out of sync with communal policy?
> >
> > It has happened with no notice to the community. There might have been
> someone present who said, that is fine. We have people who think the person
> in charge of a room should be able to do whatever they want. In an effort
> to get people to take charge, some people want them to have absolute
> authority.
> >
> > One of the things that discourages action is having to go through what I
> believe is becoming a bureaucracy. People want everyone who wants to do
> anything to come to their meeting and it usually takes two meetings for
> them to make a decision. At two meetings a month that means at least a
> month to get permission from a team. Then the action may require approval
> of the membership. Wait for a membership meeting.
> >
> > We used to do much more decision-making on email. Part of the problem is
> fatigue. I hope it is temporary, but administering a community of 87 people
> is hard. Particularly when everyone wants to either be involved in all
> decisions or can't be bothered--until it affects them.
> >
> > We were much easier to govern when we were smaller.
> >
> > Sharon
> > ----
> > Sharon Villines
> > Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
> > Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
> >
> >
> >
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