RE: participation agreement
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 08:41:06 -0600 (MDT)
One of the interesting things about this is that it is pretty delibrate. I
have seen a couple other similiar approaches in cohousing groups, while such
agreements are the norm in many other kinds of community.

I think its important to ensure clarity that your cohousing group is not
just a condo, that you are a community, and being a community requires some
investment of your time and energy. Stating this upfront is probably a very
smart thing, especially critical for a smaller group, because you have a
small pool of people to work with so if 4 people opt out that's a huge hit
on community efforts. I saw a good approach in a community in Georgia which
added a community declarion,  Something like, The <> community was created
to _________________. In order to accomplish this we hold the following
expectations of our members. <bulleted list>

I was at a community the other day which once a month holds a meeting where
each person in person, or by written proxy, must explain their hours. How
many hours they spent and what they did. Since they require a certain number
of hours per week, the fact that you have to account for yourself in front
of everyone  makes such commitments very real. Of course this also has the
function of clarifying what people are doing and they can then prioritize
time better if need be.

I have also seen this done in a meeting using private cards. Where each
member self ranks their participation secretly on a 1-10 scale on an index
card and then the facilitator tallies up the responses on the easel for all
to see. This way everyone can see the range on the grid without any one
person being singled out. So if everyone is a 7, and you are a 2, you know
how you stack up. Or if almost all the group is 2's then you get a good
sense of the time and energy that goes in group wide. These kinds of
anonymous scales can give you a real good sense of a group on a number of
issues very quickly.

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communties Association
Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

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