INTRODUCTION TO THE “THEN AND NOW” SERIES
Visitors touring CoHo sometimes ask how our expectations for community prior to move-in differ from our current day-to-day reality.
Comparing “then and now” is the framework for this series of blog postings. The source of historical perspective is the CoHo newsletters published in 2006 and 2007 (they are still available on our website). This was an intensive time, with the primary focus on actively building the community (both in terms of actual construction of buildings and the collection of folks who would be our neighbors).
What were our dreams in 2006? What is our daily life like now in 2014?
First, read the original newsletter (link below), then return to this posting for current perspectives.
At the time this newsletter was written in 2006, the word “participation” netted 750+ hits on the national cohousing list serv. Today, there are 1,330+ hits (and another 160+ if you search for the word “workshare”). Because cohousing is a high-participation lifestyle, it’s not surprising that workshare is a lively topic of discussion.
Our Workshare Policy, Teams Policy, and Inactive Members Policy were morphed into a single Participation Policy. Core participation expectations were defined; additional ways to contribute were listed. One specific change was that volunteer shifts in the meal program now “count” as participation. There was no follow-up on the option initially explored for a “pay or play” strategy.
Do CoHoots “live up to” the policy?
Our HUB Team can provide the best answer to that question. HUB is a 3-person team that acts as a clearinghouse to connect individuals with tasks and teams with workers. Throughout the year, they track requests and figure out how to get the work done.
HUB team members check in with each CoHoot once a year on their level of participation. They conduct a community survey to get input on overall community workload and to follow-up on what isn’t getting done. We also added a step to the membership process to check in with HUB to explore work opportunities so new folks understand from the very beginning how we all pitch in to help the community.
To build more connection while getting the work done, we have four full-day work parties each year, with half-day work parties on other months (usually on the same day as our business meetings). As the kids grow up, they participate more fully (while continuing the early-established tradition of delivering fresh-baked cookies to the workers).
The result? As in many types of groups, participation ranges from very active to active to (temporarily) inactive to (permanently) inactive.
Marketing and Membership Teams are now separate, but greatly reduced in size as we are no longer in an intensive recruiting phase to sell units. Resales have become available at the rate of about one a year, but not at that pace.
Our marketing function is carried out by the Neighbors Team, who respond to questions, give tours, and coordinate outreach activities to share the “cohousing message.” They continue to support a website with generous amounts of information so folks can get a preview of life in community. A transition to a WordPress site will provide a fresher look with even more information and greater ease in editing. A recent request to HUB from the Neighbors Team yielded volunteers to help with the website.
Our shady spot near the large maple tree was a cool place to gather at the end of a spring tour.
CoHo continues to have a Farmers Market booth, but only once a year rather than every week.