Re: community guidelines- process
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 12:38:17 -0700 (MST)
> This "Living Here Guide" will contain policies on
>pets, children, renters, etc. ... Specifically, how much input and
>decision-making was there on the part of the community as a whole?  And how
>much was delegated to the committee in charge?

>From Lynn at RoseWind, a built community of 24 households.
Involving the whole group in it is very important, in my estimation, and 
consistent with principles of consensus. It is most useful to have 
committees and task forces "do the homework", to save whole group time. 
But (and we've learned this the hard way over 15 years) it is really 
important BEFORE a team starts their work to have a community decision 
about the goals, the mandate, the "job", of the team. What do you want 
them to do for you? And at what point(s) do you want them to check back 
in before going further? 

What you don't want (believe me) is for a team to bust their ass 
preparing something in detail, proudly bring it to the group, have it 
shredded because it misses the mark in a fundamental way, and then have 
the team frustrated, angry, and swearing they will never again give such 
volunteer energy to a project. The community needs to know what to expect 
of the team, and the team what to expect of the community.

If you are in a situation (relative geographic proximity of most members) 
where you can productively use discussion circles, it might look like 
this. Or you could work out some variation, using emails and such. 

Someone(s) draft a proposal, or a suggestion, or a set of questions. At a 
circle, input is gathered. The proponents of the project, or the 
committee in charge of it, then takes that input and does their best to 
weave it into a next step. They then check again with a larger group. 
This goes around as many times as is necessary, until you have something 
ready for a decision, with a high likelihood of approval by the whole 

Do it in parts. Don't make approving your pet policy contingent on also 
approving your rental policy. Start with what seems easiest. 

Also start with an understanding of when your rules will be re-evaluated, 
and what the process is to evolve and change them. People are much more 
likely to approve something if it isn't perceived as forever. 

Prioritize what is most relevant prior to move in. We lived here for 
years before we had policies on various things. Even given the maverick 
nature of Port Townsend residents, it is a good idea in general not to 
micromanage situations that may never be issues. What do the current 
members feel are the priorities to get in writing? 

We've never felt any need to regulate renters, for example, nor do we 
have any policies about children, just some guidelines the parents came 
up with for the kids, and for nonparents with kid issues (for example, 
kids aren't to go into the kitchen uninvited, and they know that: if you 
see a kid wander into the kitchen, remind them of the rule). 

Good luck, and do keep in mind that your policies will evolve and change, 
so spell out how that can happen. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature) (very active peace movement here- see our 
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