Re: Are Rules Helpful? WAS Environmental sensitivities in community?
From: Tom Smyth (
Date: Sat, 22 Dec 2018 07:48:48 -0800 (PST)
Sounds like you need a "loss of membership" policy...

A cohousing community accords many benefits to its members over and above
what are guaranteed in the master deed. Think meals program, work share,
social events, etc. Those benefits can be taken away if someone
continuously and egregiously refuses to live by the rules and norms set by
the community. But you need to have a policy for it—a kind of organized
ostracism. The threat of ostracism is even more powerful than the threat of
lien or financial penalty in my experience. Where bad actors flourish is
when there is no clear trigger for ostracism and they can play different
groups (some more ready to ostracize, some more squeamish, wanting to be
"nice" when the time for "niceness" is long past, etc.) off of each other.
To be clear, ostracism is a very harsh step and should be very rarely and
deliberately taken and I hope it for nobody. But sometimes it's necessary,
and sometimes the threat of it as a possibility is an important deterrent.

We don't have a loss of membership policy at Touchstone but it's on our
TODO list. The best time to do it is before move-in, so I'm told. I think
this is not well trodden ground and only the most advanced intentional
communities have these, but I really think they're so important...

On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 2:05 PM Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]> wrote:

> >
> >
> > I'm much more on Liz's side of this than on Sharon's, though I recognize
> the validity of Sharon's objections to making rules that don't involve
> safety. I want to know what is officially NOT okay in my community, as
> determined by consensus, because I want to live in harmony with my
> neighbors, and I want new people to have an easy one-stop place to find our
> policies and expectations so they can live in harmony with us.
> It wouldn't occur to everyone that there must be some policy about xyz
> behavior if they never encountered it before, so they wouldn't think to
> ask, and if it isn't actually formalized as a consensed-on policy, maybe
> that is just my neighbor Sharon's view of what the rule ought to be about
> xyz if she is the one I happened to ask.
> The problem is that, other than paying dues, there are no penalties for
> violating a rule. The only negative for you in violating a rule is that you
> might lose social capital. The one rule we have a clear-cut way to enforce
> is that you must pay your HOA dues, and it took us years to put that into
> the Bylaws, after one household flipped us off and stopped paying dues.
> They didn't care about losing social capital.
> This lack of enforcement is infuriating for some of our members, given that
> some other members are seen to have violated (or still be violating) some
> rule and "getting away with it" -- but what are we supposed to do to the
> violator?? This has been a real problem for us that has caused serious hard
> feelings. We do have a team now working on this issue, and it will be very
> interesting to see how that goes, since many of our members are "Sharons"
> but some are "Lizzes," if I may put it that way.
>   Muriel at Shadowlake Village
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Tom Smyth

Worker-Owner, Sassafras Tech Collective
Specializing in innovative, usable tech for social change · @sassafrastech

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.