I am dividing the process of creating cohousing in this apartment complex into two parts:
- I will be at the developer, maintain and improve the buildings, and sell homes to cohousing community members.
- I am looking for two households to buy the two units that will be available soon, and spearhead the community side of the project: meals, policies, membership, meetings etc.
I am looking for two households who are very familiar with the idea of cohousing, as described in the book Cohousing by McCammant and Durrett. I am hoping for people who want to have a robust meals program, since meals are at the heart of cohousing, and are committed to constructive communication. Beyond those basic parameters, the culture and structure of the new community will be created by the new members. Ideally, the two new households will have already been working together toward creating a community, so that they know each other and have some experience meeting and working together.
I still want to be part of the community, but I would like to step back from the community creation process, both so that the new folks can feel like it’s fully theirs, and because I have my hands full with the development process: maintenance, improvements and completing the conversion to condominiums. Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t kept up with outreach emails, and haven’t gotten back to you. This is one of the jobs I want to (and clearly need to) hand over.
As you can see, there are a lot of policies posted here. The new folks can keep the community-related policies, revise them, or create new ones, including changing the name if they like. They will decide how to establish community practices and policies. As a community member I will participate in the discussion, but I will not take a leadership role or have a loud voice. If the community doesn’t end up having the flavor I was imagining, I can live with that.
As the developer, I will be in charge of the financial policies.
This approach is all about figuring out how to match rights with responsibilities. I have found that most (all) of the people who have shown interest in this community don’t have the time and energy to be development partners. I can’t hand over the right to make decisions about the property, until folks are involved in taking care of the property and the budget. By separating the community-building job from the development job, I can immediately hand over the rights and responsibilities for creating and managing the community — which I don’t have the time or energy to lead, and which needs everyone’s participation if this is going to be cohousing — while keeping control of the development and renovation process myself, since I carry all the responsibility for that.
Hopefully, in the future these roles will merge and all of the owners will take on the rights and responsibilities of maintaining the property, but I think this new approach will provide a smoother road for getting started.