Re: guidlines on consensus acceptance of new members
From: Cyndy Sheldon (
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2006 22:35:04 -0800 (PST)
Tree, How can you ask someone to leave since they own their unit? Or is it that you can ask them to leave, but they don't have to comply legally? Cyndy Sheldon (Orcacohowa--new group in Bellingham)

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tree Bressen" <tree [at]>
To: <rdorfman [at]>; "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 7:37 PM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ guidlines on consensus acceptance of new members


We have a site and are still in very early development stages, but have
been meeting long enough to form a cohesive group of about 12 households.

We are anticipating a number of new poeple to join soon and are putting
together our guildlines for intake of new members.  These guidelines spell
out what a household needs to do financially and operationally (attending
meetings, committes etc) to become an equity member.

One question we have is whether to leave the final inclusion decision to
"self-selection", or to include some sort of provision for the current
group members to have some say in who can come in to the group.  The
concern is that with self-selection, someone with the time and $$ could
insert themselves into the group, even if they have very different ideas
about what cohousing should be.

Any insight as to how this has been handled appreciated.

Almost all groups created on the cohousing model use
self-selection.  Coming from the earlier intentional communities movement
where a lot of emphasis is placed on screening incoming members, at first i was skeptical of this approach. But after years of observation i have come
to think that it generally works just fine.  (The community i live at
continues to be quite picky about who we invite to live with us, but we
share one big house together, very different than cohousing.)

With a self-selection approach, there are still plenty of steps you can
take to ensure that the people who end up living with you are a good
match.  Such as:

1. Get everyone to visit a few other cohousing groups so they know what
they are getting into.
2. Put participation requirements in place early, and act on them.
3. Make a policy ASAP that everyone will contribute to cooking common meals.
4. Have a membership committee that meets with every potential new member
to convey the vision, review requirements, make sure the potential new
member really did read the policies, and so on.
5. Set boundaries on bad behavior at meetings.

If you are doing self-selection and a worst case scenario arises, you can
still ask someone to leave. *Very* few people would stay in a group in the
face of multiple people coming to them with such a request.

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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