Re: Policies at first move-in?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2021 11:36:36 -0700 (PDT)
On Apr 23, 2021, at 4:39 PM, Abe Ross <cohoyote [at]> wrote:
> Note that not only am I asking what you did, I am also asking what, in 
> retrospect, you wish you had or had not done about these at that time.

Most of the policies we needed couldn’t have been anticipated or well designed 
before we had the experience of needing them.

What was more helpful was knowing who to contact for information — and who was 
collecting the information on things like telephone installations, moving truck 
arrivals, trash and recycling pick up, and who to call when things didn’t 

With cell phones and laptops communications are much easier and most people 
will have one or the other even if everything else is packed. But they still 
need to know who has the keys to ———, what is the telephone number for ————, 
etc. Does the Association do this or do I?

Perhaps have a designated contact, with some authority, for each area or 
service so information can be accumulated in one place. Without cell phones, 
telephones, computers, or a common house ready for use, we had a bookshelf in 
the breezeway so people could leave notes and information for each other. And 
have a central distribution spot.

Focus on obtaining and communicating information and designating a person in 
each area who can make decisions (and change them when necessary). It isn’t a 
time to call everyone together to get consensus on whether to add an additional 
recycling pickup or not. Or what to do when the elevator overheats or whatever 
else they do when 10-20 households are moving in in one week.

The technical stuff can bury you. Think about your last big group to-do. 
Organizing the alumni dinner with half the people coming from out of town. A 
sailing trip on a sailboat for 20-30 people. Moving into a college dorm or a 
group house. 

Just the physical effort and the personal decision-making will make people 
testy. Add to that things no one knows how to fix like the city classifying all 
the units as commercial and sending commercial rate tax bills 3 days after 
move-in. Who can handle that for everyone? It works a lot better if someone 
steps up and everyone else knows who it is.

I don’t mean to make it sound so harrowing but it will be complex, but the 
complexity probably will not be caused by missing policies.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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