People new to the idea of cohousing sometimes express concerns about…
You still have autonomy over what you do to, and within your own home. Negotiating and accepting compromise over the communal space and facilities can be frustrating and time consuming but most find it worth the enormous advantages of jointly run facilities and the richness of group activities.
This is one of the main challenges (and to us, one of the main joys) of cohousing. Sociocracy, the form of consent decision-making we use can be exciting, fun and a fair, caring way to learn about yourself and others in your community.
Consent decision-making is similar to consensus but has a lower threshold for agreement, so decisions are easier to reach. It is saying 'This is good enough for now and I know it can be changed if it isn't working' rather than 'This isn't quite what I wanted so I won't accept it'. For streamlined decision-making, consent is used in policy decisions (e.g. the community's general expectations of the maintenance team) but more traditional methods can be used in operational decisions (e.g. allowing someone in the maintenance team to decide where to buy materials - which should meet the expectation of being from a sustainable source, and within budget).
A conflict resolution procedure involving a mediator or third party may be used as a fall back if needed.
Finding a manageable level of involvement is a balancing act – how to make a reasonable contribution to the running of the community without getting too worn out. This is something we will all help each other with and be ready to listen to each other about. Participating in the work of the community is probably the single most powerful way to really feel part of the community and get to know other residents.
Our core values are reflected in our Vision, Mission and Principles, our Constitution and our Membership Procedure. But as with many cohousing communities, there are minimal values or ideological requirements, which is what attracts many to cohousing in the first place. We think it will be possible to encompass and gain from a wide range of beliefs including green living, vegetarianism/veganism, spiritual beliefs and more. Respecting these different ideologies will requires effective decision making procedures.
The advantage of cohousing is that you have a large choice of other neighbours to mix with to counterbalance any difficulties with one individual. A conflict resolution procedure involving a third party or mediator will be used as a fall back if needed.
We have yet to decide our inheritance policy, although it seems likely that there will be some stipulations involved in leaving your home to your children. Any members who join the organisation before this decision has been made will take an equal part in the policy making process. Sociocracy includes regular opportunities to reassess and rewrite policies.