Re: "emergency plan" for a cohousing community?
From: Bob Leigh (
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:55:21 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Phil,

It's ancient history now, but I remember that our playground emergency
involved safety; the common area slide/swing set had been donated and had
become too rickety to use.  On short notice we chose to buy a new sturdier
one.  I seriously doubt that the cost involved was thousands, though I
suspect memories of the cost have increased over the years. :)

One winter, when all the downspouts behind the 195 building began draining
into the basement, because the normal outlet pipe was frozen, THAT was an
emergency!  I think a majority of the Managing Board members gathered,
decided who to call, and authorized payment in one of the shortest board
meetings ever. (The plumbing in question was later redesigned, if I
remember correctly.)

Bob Leigh
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 1:16 PM, Philip Dowds via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> We have some rules about Board interventions and short-notice plenaries to
> deal w/ “emergencies”, but we’ve made little use of them.  Partly because
> we’ve not made much effort to define “emergency”.  Once long ago we had a
> playground “swing set emergency”, for which a committee held an urgent
> meeting to agree to spend thousands on a replacement swing set.  ???
> In the past, we’ve had mobility-impaired members living on the top floor,
> and a loss of elevator would certainly have been an emergency for them.
> But this is no longer the case, and everyone now living on the upper floors
> can do stairs easily, or fairly easily.  Would an elevator failure be an
> emergency today?  What about if the common air conditioning experiences a
> catastrophic failure on the 4th of July?  Is that an emergency?  Or, should
> we wait for the better replacement pricing we can get in October?
> Our common house combines with 13 apartments, and a few years back, the
> building heat died at about 6pm in the evening, during an actual blizzard
> at 6°F.  Our regular service company was unavailable, and although a team
> of volunteers was struggling with the problem, I lost confidence in their
> ability to get things working again.  So I called in some favors and got a
> plumber to appear within 30 minutes.  The heat came back on, and neither
> residents nor building froze that night.  It ended up costing the community
> more than $2K, and several friends and neighbors were unhappy with me for
> over-riding a committee and making unilateral choices.  If this emergency
> repeats itself, I will do exactly the same thing.
> Thanks,
> Philip Dowds
> Cornerstone Village Cohousing
> Cambridge, MA
> mobile: 617.460.4549
> email:   rpdowds [at]
> > On Sep 18, 2018, at 11:18 AM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
> >
> >> On Sep 17, 2018, at 5:00 PM, Sophie Glasser <sophiemosaicjoy [at] 
> >>>
> wrote:
> >
> >> Do any cohousing communities have an “emergency plan”? Specifically
> what to do if there is a safety threat to everyone from weather, fire, etc
> and you need to make sure everyone is alerted quickly
> >
> > We have a RISC pod — can’t remember what the initials mean — that is
> active from time to time. We once had a designated person on each corridor
> responsible for checking that everyone was out for a fire alarm. Now I
> think we just check with each other. We have a checklist that a RISC member
> uses to be sure everyone is present or accounted for at our offsite
> assembly spot (out on the corner) after fire alarms.
> >
> > We had a telephone tree but it was too hard to keep up to date, or
> remember.
> >
> > Email is incredibly effective. I’ve put out emails on 5 occasions in
> which I or someone close needed immediate attention — falls, flooding
> water, etc.— and had 5-7 responses within 2 minutes. (And the responses
> keep coming for the afternoon with people checking in the next day.)
> >
> > People post an email to let everyone know that the CH door and keypad
> isn’t working and to bring your key. (Some people enter their units through
> the CH so this is essential.)
> >
> > Elevator is out. We have 3 households that can’t use the stairs. This is
> serious. They can’t go home.
> >
> > An email to people when we are having a fairly local wind and rain storm
> with lightning and tornado warnings during rush hour to tell people to stay
> at the office for awhile.
> >
> >> Also how do you decide as to when it is truly an “emergency”?
> >
> > What is defined as an emergency is usually a life threatening event. In
> cohousing that extends to serious property damage. We have people
> designated who can make emergency decisions immediately. I think it is 2
> members of the board but in general, a lot of people emerge and take
> action. What undesignated people would be hesitant to do is spend a lot of
> money. Or call the police.
> >
> > But after all that, I do wish we had a big clanging bell in the piazza
> in front of the CH to ring for even lesser and happier events. Party starts
> now stuff.
> >
> > Sharon
> > ----
> > Sharon Villines
> > Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
> > Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.