Cohousing policies
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:03:15 -0700 (PDT)
I can't tell if I'm disagreeing with Sharon or just discussing a
different topic, but here goes.

For me, the purpose of discussing policies before move-in is to
resolve as much as you can about your values before getting so many
new members you can never agree on values.

So, for example, if you decide birds are more important that outdoor
cats and make a policy for no outdoor cats, people who sign-on later
in the process agree to that value rather than after move-in having a
battle between the birds and the cats.

If you decide no one is allowed to own guns, police officers, active
duty military, and gun collectors know that those are the values of
this community.

If you believe in full nudity for children until puberty, the
community's clothing policy allows folk to know whether they want to
live there or not.

We had scent sensitive folk, and a number of folk with allergies, so
there was no question it was al no-VOC paint, but more than that, when
we got to fireplace and I said I was allergic, we'd already
self-selected to be a community that would prioritized no wood burning
due to allergies, rather than environmental benefit of wood over gas
fire. We take allergies seriously here because we early on said that
was one of our values.

Honestly, in my experience, the stuff we decided about how things
would work was mostly based in fantasy. Who knew you have to shovel a
path in the snow to the pump head? Not any of us until the water
couldn't get tested. And the rules about the dog run? We never built a
dog run.

The values decisions, where we successfully made them, can be helpful
in letting those who are not yet members decide if they want to be in
this group.

So what topics?
Dog leashes, Outdoor cats, Chickens, other Farm animals.
Work expectations, meal frequency, involvement in decision making
Nudity in public spaces, hot tubs, pools
Smoking area, where will it be? What, no one will have guests who smoke?
Community or individual garden plots?
Gun storage, gun privacy
Backyards, front yards, who owns? who mows? who shovels?
Numbers of parking spaces and cars per home and do teens get cars?
Quiet hours, do you want them? Mornings or nights?
How are you allowed to get rid of rats?

Note that you don't need to solve all of these, each of them points a
direction for the type of community you will be, and its the direction
you need, so that you end up with members who enough common values you
can find consensus.

That's my opinion, anyway.

(Of course, you also have to make sure folk understand when they chose
to move-in that those are the values they are agreeing to, also.)


(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
Minister to the Affiliates, Ecclesia Ministries

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