RE: rules for participation
From: Alexander Robin A (
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 14:02:03 -0800 (PST)
A wonderful point! There are so many ways to contribute and make a group great. 
That's the problem I see with the cohousings that try to "enforce" a certain 
amount of contribution by logging hours, using checklists, etc. There's no way 
to include all the ways that people contribute, and the list itself becomes 
limiting. Don't get me wrong - I have my share of times when I grumble about 
apparent discrepancies in contribution, so it's not like I don't understand the 
urge to formalize it in some way. It takes some level of trust to take the 
position that people will contribute to what they value and that each person's 
gifts are different and potentially very valuable. That said, I agree that not 
going to meetings and then complaining about the resulting decisions is not 
Robin Alexander
Eon Commons


From: Tree Bressen [mailto:tree [at]]
Sent: Thu 3/17/2005 2:51 PM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Cc: lbassman [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ rules for participation

Dear Lynette,

I don't know if you are still seeking responses to this message from over a
month ago, but in addition to what Rob said about how realistically people
do not all contribute at the same level, i would add the following:

Not everyone is into meetings, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be
wonderful contributors in other ways.  If they help organize potlucks or do
childcare or act as a bridge person among different cliques in the
community, if they bring a sense of fun or make casseroles for people who
are sick or fix the plumbing at 3am, all of these are important parts of
community functioning.  Unfortunately there's not as much opportunity for
these other gifts to come out when you are not on site together yet, but
still even now you are hopefully holding social events and perhaps helping
each other out on things, so you may start to get a sense of this.

Even though not everyone is into meetings, i think it's important to build
a culture that says, "If you want to be a part of this decision, you show
up at the meeting, and if you're not there, it's not fair for you to
complain afterward about the outcome."

I think it is reasonable as a group to say that since community requires
participation in order to function, that you expect every member to find
ways to plug in . . . and if you see that someone is not fulfilling that,
it's probably time to have a conversation with that person to find out
where they're at.

If it helps, the principles that underlie the participation expectations at
my 9-person home community are:
1. Is the basic necessary work to run the place getting done?
2. Is everyone at least contributing some?  (In our case the minimum level
is attending weekly house meetings, cooking once a week for the group, and
doing some household chores.)
3. Is anyone so over-burdened that they are feeling resentful or in danger
of burning out?  In that case it's time for some of their work to shift to
other people.

Good luck,

--Tree Bressen

Walnut St. Co-op


Tree Bressen
1680 Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 484-1156
tree [at]

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