Re: Membership
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2018 10:19:27 -0700 (PDT)
In addition to the points that Philip made, I would add that the focus needs to 
be on buying, selling and building units, in that order. The social aspect is 
very important but it exists in support of the primary goal of building 
cohousing — a collaborative, multi-household community of people from diverse 
backgrounds, ages, etc., who will be building a life together.

The housing is the core that makes this possible. Hard to have the same 
relationships if you are geographically separated.

You don’t want to attract people who don’t understand that you are about 
building a building, and you don’t want to lose your focus. 

Obviously the social concerns are important but they are stronger if they build 
around a shared goal. This is our group and we are doing this together. How can 
we make it work for everyone who is interested and willing to dedicate the time 
and energy to make it happen?

Establish a scale of membership that allows people to get to know you before 
they make a financial commitment, and one that encourages making a commitment 
as soon as possible. Commitments create commitments.

The best way I think anyone has used to encourage commitments is to attach 
commitment dates to the order of unit choice. What was the date of the check? 
Over the months/years, people will move up the list as others drop out, but the 
first in have the advantage of having made a commitment when there was no 
guarantee of success. They will have spent the most time making it happen.

Often there are other perks — early joiners receive a percentage discount off 
the final house prices. Yes, this means people who come along later pay more, 
but the early members earned it with all the labor, expense, and angst of 
having been there when it was only dreams and wishes and hard work.

And when plans are done, knowing that one is yours brings new energy that is 
lost when you put off this decision.

I’m not suggesting that you have to be gangbusters or lay out the rules for a 
signature before people are allowed inside the door, but focus is important. 
It’s too easy to focus on attracting people and thinking just because they are 
attracted, they will buy in. Or will be able to buy in.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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