What makes a good community member?
After you have fallen in love with the idea of Cohousing and have decided you are willing to be engaged in all the work it takes to have it happen, have you thought about what it takes to be a healthy contributing member for the short and the long haul? Intentional Communities, while having many wonderful aspects, are not perfect nor are the people who are part of them. Community takes work and sometimes the most important work is the work on ourselves. Here are some qualities in people who do well in community:
- Someone with a healthy sense of self
- Someone who is open and able to hear other points of view
- Someone with a sense of connection with people and an interest in the well-being of others
- Someone willing to abide by group agreements
- Someone willing to speak up
- Someone willing to be quiet and listen
Consensus Decision Making
We have chosen to use formal consensus as our decision making process for its ability to involve active participation from every member, resulting in decisions that will reflect the will of the entire group. It also acknowledges that conflict is a part of life and can be handled in a way that respects all involved. Consensus decision making also requires a commitment to “active cooperation, disciplined speaking and listening, and respect for the contributions of every member. Likewise, every person has the responsibility to actively participate as a creative individual within the structure.” (From Conflict and Consensus by Butler and Rothstein)
Compassionate and Effective Communication
As a group, we have made a decision to communicate in ways that are honest and clear as well as respectful of others and ourselves. We try to speak for ourselves and allow others to do the same. If you have an interpersonal issue with another member, it is your responsibility to approach that person outside of a group meeting, and share your concern using effective and compassionate communication. The Membership Committee will assist when there is a need for discussion, mediation or conflict resolution. We recognize that clear, honest and respectful communication can be difficult and challenging. We are committed to having the group be a safe place for this type of communication to occur.
Building a community takes time and will be intense in certain phases of the project. Even after the project is completed and we are happily living in our new community, it will still take time. New committees will be formed and some will remain. It is this commitment of time to the group that brings the rewards of a strong and supportive community.
These are some of the things it takes to be a good community member. We offer them to you with honor and respect as you consider.