Re: Sample Rules and Regulations
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2021 11:18:55 -0800 (PST)
> On Feb 23, 2021, at 11:44 AM, Martie Weatherly <mhweatherly [at] 
>> wrote:

> This might be an area where groups create different values in different 
> communities. So you might find one like us with few rules, preferring 
> guidelines based on trust, and other communities that want more rules. But I 
> don't see how a small forming group can make that decision. 

I started writing this to say a discussion that might be helpful is to explore 
assumptions. But the problem is that even then discussing assumptions without 
experience to guide them is probably a waste of time.

And example — after we moved in, we discovered that people had different 
assumptions about the purpose and use of the common house. Some of them were:

1. A community activist center where neighborhood political groups could meet 
and disseminate literature. And where progressive religious groups could hold 

2. A hotel lobby with meeting rooms.

3. A rental property that would provide enough income to pay for the common 
expenses and thus lower condo fees.

4. The equivalent of a “main house with smaller cabins” so each private unit 
was supplemented with a social space and facilities for large meals and hanging 
out. Clearly residential like the big old family home.

5. A sort of free for all space where people could put furniture and other 
things they wanted to use like musical instruments, window hangings, floor 
seating, etc. as if it were a family room in a private home.

I could name the specific members who believed one or more of those things. We 
didn’t realize this before move-in. Trying to resolve these conflicting 
assumptions before move-in, would have caused months of “discussion” and taken 
time from other essential decisions about construction and attracting new 

After move-in we tried each one — no plan, they just happened — and we realized 
which ones worked for us. No sturm und drang about rules for what if 
situations. Things worked or they didn’t.

The activist materials and announcements produced clutter and an institutional 
atmosphere. The hotel lobby never worked with what was ultimately 20 kids 
running around. After a few rentals, we found they interfered with spontaneous 
activities plus outside groups wanted them planned 6-12 months in advance. 

The free for all lasted a few days because residents were bringing home things 
from the trash on the street and there was no approval process. Religious 
meetings made it uncomfortable to hold other activities at the same time — 
pickling in the kitchen, birthday parties in the play room, mopping floors in 
the hallways, painting furniture in the workshop, etc.

In the end the “main house” model worked. We do host meetings of the 
neighborhood association and members office retreats but infrequently. A member 
has to sponsor any “outside” meetings taking full responsibility as a host.  A 
team is responsible for approving donations. The number of visitors doesn’t 
require a lobby for them to check in.

It’s important to make decisions based on experience and testing, not in 
response to hypothetical possibilities. Maybe in the case of emergencies — what 
do we do if?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.