Re: Feedback on Participation Policy
From: Chris Terbrueggen (
Date: Wed, 15 May 2019 09:32:06 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks for the feedback on my question.  I am going to propose the
following modification to the policy. We have no data or reference point on
how many hours it takes to run the new community. We are moving into a new
complex in 6 months.

Current review statement: After 6 months, the hub will report to the
membership on the progress, successes and challenges of the participation
policy, and propose modifications that would be helpful.

*Proposal:  During the first six months, the Hub will collect data on how
many hours it takes to run the community and develop a baseline percentage
of the rate of member participation and non-participation each month. Both
rates will be helpful in determining if any changes are needed to the
policy. *

The current review statement in the policy stated no way of measuring the
outcome of the policy. Which is important in consent governance. Also, I
believe the hub could work with a software provider, like Gather or Mosaic
to program this baseline data into software so members could see there rate
of participation compared to other members in the community during the
first 6 months. This feature would make the rate visible to each member.
Maybe, only each member needs to see there own data results
privately compared to others.   Whereas the Hub needs to see all the data
to connect with members who may need help with participating or connecting
to workgroups or tasks.  Thanks, Chris

On Sun, May 12, 2019 at 6:56 PM Chris Terbrueggen <christopher402 [at]>

> Greetings,
> Members of Linden Cohousing/ CohoMadison have created a participation
> policy that is working it's way through committees. One of our members
> expressed the concern below. I would like to get some experienced feedback
> on the costs and benefits of starting with a participation policy that
> focuses on using a Participation Hub or team of members from different work
> groups to get all members involved in the work of the community. However,
> our current draft policy does not state a specific hour requirement. We
> wanted to build a culture of participation first and not have a team that
> monitored each member to see if they completed so many hours of work each
> month.
> Thanks, Chris Terbrueggen
> Madison, WI
> "I had a question and concern about what the options are if someone is
> able to participate in the shared work, but doesn't.  The group believes
> that as a last resort, arbitration will resolve the problem.  Upon
> reflection, I'm not sure that arbitration will resolve the situation.
> Basically, the participation policy is like a social contract.  However,
> In its current form, I'm not sure the policy is "enforceable" in
> arbitration or elsewhere.  The policy does not say what amount of time, on
> average, a resident member is expected to contribute.  And it does not
> indicate that if people don't do their work, there can be an economic cost
> to the community, if we have to pay people to fill in the gaps.   Or the
> social cost to the community, if some people feel unfairly burdened by the
> workload and resent it.
> The line about not paying anyone to do work I understand, but it could be
> helpful to clarify that part and add a line or two about why we don't pay a
> community member to do work.   Otherwise, in arbitration, that clause could
> be used against us.
> I suggest adding an average time commitment per person, adding that one
> person not fulfilling their obligation (a stronger word than expectation)
> can have a financial and social cost to the whole community.   And
> clarifying the part about why members can't pay each other to take over the
> work.   With those details added, the policy/social contract would be more
> enforceable in arbitration.  Worst case, the person refusing to do work
> would have to reimburse the community for the average hours and that money
> would go to offset the cost of hiring outside people so dues don't
> increase.  A dues increase would disproportionately impact the lower-income
> members, threaten their financial stability, and could threaten the
> long-term stability of the group.
> I know that we are generally an optimistic group, but good planning
> requires looking at the worst-case or bad-case scenario and see what we can
> do now to prevent that from happening.   This member non-participation is a
> real problem and occurs repeatedly in cohousing.  It usually gets worse
> over time as the new less-committed people move in.   It WILL happen
> eventually, even at Linden.  What can we do now to minimize the chances of
> it happening and minimize the negative financial impact to the rest of the
> community if it happens and persists?"

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