Re: Looking for information on Cohousing Boards of Trustees
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2015 06:38:36 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 11, 2015, at 10:04 AM, Thomas Keys <safetkey [at]> wrote:
> Would everyone in Cohousing who has Boards overseeing there communities,
> let me know how this is working for you. Please provide guidance on
> creating a functional board with out losing a sense of control.

We have a decision-making policy that lays out the decision-making structure. 
The Board is defined as a Team, equal to other teams, and includes members of 
the 3 main teams. All our documents are under “Policies” on our website.

A better answer comes from Sociocracy. The Board includes outside experts as 
well as the “CEO”. Outside experts being your lawyer, accountant, local 
political rep, etc. It’s job is long term planning (10-20 years and connections 
with the surrounding community, businesses, government, etc.

But what most communities call a board is in sociocracy a General Management 
Circle or Coordinating Circle. This group is composed of 2 representatives of 
all the teams plus the president/ceo/general manager, secretary, and treasurer, 
that also communicates and sometimes meets with the lawyer, accountant, etc.

The General Management circle is responsible for decisions that affect more 
than one team, objections a team cannot resolve, and shorter term planning 5-10 

A board in sociocracy is designed on the corporate model but the functions are 
still important in cohousing. What most of our boards are, I suspect, is called 
a board but is really a combination of board functions and general management 

In any event the Board should not be able to trump other decisions. Decide who 
makes what class of decisions, and what happens if they can’t make them. Some 
decisions can be delegated to a “full circle”, the whole community. Once 
delegated, that group or individual makes the decision according to the process 
the whole group has decided.

BUT there is also the process of measurement that I don’t think many of us pay 
any attention to. How well did that decision work? Are we getting the results 
we need? How can we improve the next decision/action? Transparency and 
accountability are keys to delegation.

If the community is small enough, the full circle can also function as a 
general management circle. When the community is more than 30-40 people, 
however, this becomes unwieldy. Aside from the difficulties of getting everyone 
together, there is the issue of having to educate everyone on all issues. This 
becomes a major task. It’s much better to delegate decisions to those who will 
take responsibility for educating themselves.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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