Re: self selection backup plan?
From: Berrins (
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 22:57:32 -0700 (MST)
In a message dated 2/12/2000 9:07:19 AM, Zimmerland [at] writes:

<< We're a newly formed group and getting ready to open up to additional 
members.  From what we've read and understand is that most groups are self 
selected.  A few seem to have a process where the current group approves new 
members.  We're trying to formulate our policy and would like input from 
groups as to their experiences and what has worked or not worked for them.  
Suggestions are welcome.  Thanks,  Linda Zimmerman, Mosaic Commons, West of 
Boston. >>

My family and I were part of the "second wave" of members at Pathways, when 
the original core members opened up for additional members, so I will try to 
recall our experience of joining (about two years ago) for you.

We heard about Pathways from some friends (who are also joining) from an 
article in the local paper announcing an introductory meeting at the local 
YMCA.  We had to attend two silent general meetings to get a feel for what 
was going on, and then come to six meetings (it might have been fewer than 
six) before we could sign on as "prospective members" (for $65, to cover the 
cost of mailings and the archives).  After the silent meetings we were 
allowed to participate in discussions, and as prospective members we were 
suppose to join a committee as well as attend meetings.  We were not allowed 
to participate in consensus decisions.  All these meetings and committee work 
were to give us a feel for each other and how much work was involved.  
At-a-distance folks were allowed to come to fewer meetings, but were 
encouraged to do whatever committee work that could be done where they lived. 
 Several people and families dropped out during these phases.  These phases 
were, in essence, our self-selection phases.

After about four or five months, I forget which, we were allowed to ask to 
become a "core member."  We had to write a letter stating why we wanted to 
join, and then the core membership was polled to see if there was consensus 
on allowing that prospective member to become a core member.  This was the 
tricky part.  Many folks felt that self-selection was good enough.  If 
someone had stuck around with us for four or five months, they must seriously 
want to be in cohousing!  However, a few folks felt we should seriously 
consider the people joining; have they really contributed to the community 
during their prospective membership period?  Do they get along with the core 
members?  There was several discussions on this issue.  

However, time passed, and these discussions turned out to be moot points.  
For most prospective members wanting to join, there were very few problems.  
We must have been really lucky; self-selection brought a fascinating blend of 
people to our community.  While not every core member got to know every 
prospective household by the time they applied, enough did and were willing 
to share their perspectives.  This ended up being good enough for almost 
everyone.  I think we were full about a year before construction began 
(Northampton is a hot market).  Only one prospective household was not 
encouraged to join, and I don't think they ever applied (I'd rather not go 
into the details; it must have been tough to hear).  This household may not 
have been able to join for other reasons as well.

Self-selection may be more of an issue for the waiting list.  We won't 
require nearly as many meetings to get on the list, so we won't have nearly 
as much opportunity to get to know the waiting list folks.  Once they're on 
it, they don't have to do much, if anything, to stay on it (we're still 
working on that), and it may be years before they get the call to join.  We 
may have to rely on self-selection to keep a pool of prospective members on a 
waiting list.

Hope this helps....


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