Re: Commitments to community
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2016 06:53:05 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 18, 2016, at 5:17 PM, Beverly Jones Redekop <beverly.jones.redekop 
> [at]> wrote:
> No record keeping at all? No public log to record one's activities and
> time? No communication?

We have a wiki in which the facilities team records information about 
servicing, repairs, systems design, etc.

We now have a rental and resales team that works with interested and new buyers 
so they know what they are getting into before move in. We have na orientation 
pod that works with new people. Each new household has an assigned buddy to 
answer questions.

But what works best is just getting new people to ask questions. Someone has 
now decided to write a handbook but I think it will go the way of the dodo 
bird. No one will read it. And it will be outdated so fast it will be dangerous 
to read. My college had a policy book that 6-8 inches thick. It was never 
opened by anyone in my whole center.

The process of asking questions is also part of the getting to know you. It 
tells me what the new household needs. If they need a dry cleaners I know they 
wear that kind of clothes. If they ask for emergency child care because the 
nanny hasn’t shown up, I know they have a job that is not flexible — and that 
they have a nanny. if they need sourdough starter, they bake. If they want to 
know where the coop is, I know they are new to the neighborhood.

Learning the community takes time.

> Why do dollars for strata fees/HOA dues require accountability while hours
> for maintenance can run on inspiration, whims, and guilt?

I used to ask this same question. Loudon County Ecovillage does (or at least 
used to) count minimum hours. People gave scraps of paper to a logger every 
month or 2-3 months. And they had an annual labor budget. If someone wanted to 
start a new project — like a garden or new play area — it was put in the budget 
if a minimal number of hours was pledged during the budget process. People 
could always work more so they were tracking minimums.

> Of the happy, well-functioning communities (the ones that are in good
> repair and that have community dinners at least a couple of times per
> week), what is the split between recording and not recording?

I suspect that few actually record but I may be wrong because no every 
community is represented on this list. It would be interesting to see which are 
and perhaps, encourage other communities to find someone interest in joining. I 
was stunned when I moved into Takoma Village that only one or two even know 
what the list was and had not read any of the books. They just thought it 
sounded good.

> \We're very close to getting the occupancy certificate on our common house
> here in Yarrow, BC, so it's nice to know how thriving communities are
> achieving their health and happiness.

You will also have personalities that influence how you function. People who 
have different skills and interests. Your human capital. One reason why many of 
our list of things are now being routinely compiled and circulated is that an 
avid list maker has been freed up as her high maintenance son has graduated 
from high school and is now gainfully employed. She thinks in lists. Others 

One community, I heard, had community sing alongs after meals because they had 
a person who would sit down at the piano and start playing. No plan, that’s 
just what happened. Your community will be the same way.

And you will worry about all this stuff before you move in but after move in 
there will be months when you are consumed with moving and recycling piles of 
cardboard boxes, you will evolve more organically.

And experience unique to cohousing, I think, is 40 households all moving in at 
once. It’s like a parade of moving trucks and boxes with each household in 
disarray for weeks and months.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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