How do common meals work?

Common meals (even if some people’s schedules permit them to attend only irregularly) are the glue that holds cohousing communities together. Cohousing communities usually prepare between two and five meals per week in their common house. The meals are prepared by a team of 2-4 persons for however many diners sign up for the meal in advance. Eating common meals is always voluntary. There’s been a lot of experimenting with policies about meals over the years. While there is a good deal of variation in the way the cooking (and cleanup) responsibilities are structured, typically, each person is involved in meal preparation and/or clean-up once every 4 or 5 weeks. There is also variation in how the common meals are paid for, but you only pay for meals you eat. Common dinner prices typically range from $2.50 to $4.00

How does the consent form of governance work?

Dynamic governance” or “sociocracy” is a governance model that more and more co-housing communities are learning in order to make decisions in a timely way with the benefit of full participation and effective usethat respect everyone’s voice and of everyone’s time.  Residents report they even enjoy working together.  Communities that learn and adopt this approach to governance early tend to find it most helpful.  RCE was initiated with a sociocratic form of governance.  All our new Explorer members take our Sociocracy 101 class (a four-session small-group online course ) and advance their familiarity with it in our own workshops as well as online events, reading, and practice.  For more, see https://www.cohousing.org/sociocracy/ or https://www.sociocracyforall.org.

Who makes decisions about things like pets and meals and volunteer work and maintenance?

The community as a whole decides on its goals and principles.  Community decisions are made by planning groups, each of which has been delegated its own aims and domains.  The four primary groups are Membership and Outreach, Legal and Financial, Administration, and Community Life and Governance, which are guiding our development and preparing our policies.  Explorer members who have completed Sociocracy 101 are entitled (and encouraged) to become participants in a planning group.  Ecovillages with a strong sense of community end up with very few rules.

Will there be a work or participation requirement?

One of the basic principles of cohousing is collaboration, so aside from the practical benefits of voluntary work by residents, it is generally valued for its community-building benefits. At Rachel Carson EcoVillage, a self-managed community, there will always be an abundance of opportunities to pitch in and get involved, with a wide variety of work to fit the talents, interests, and limitations of individuals. Like most communities, we anticipate asking residents to choose what they would like to do (affinity-based work), which tends to work surprisingly well.  Typically, the community asks all residents to take part in community decisions, to take a turn at common house meal preparation, and to participate in seasonal workdays.  Total volunteer time may average 4-8 hours per month.  Those who participate in this way often report that working closely together with others is an especially satisfying way of connecting and feeling a strong sense of community.

What happens if I need to sell my unit?

Any household leaving the community can legally sell their property, and there are a number of ways that communities arrange for sales that protect the interests of both the seller and the community. The EcoVillage, for example, will ask all members to sign a voluntary agreement that they will not lease or sell their unit to anyone who does not wish to participate fully in the community. Almost all communities maintain a waiting list of persons interested in the availability of houses, and community members agree to invite prospective buyers from the waiting list before putting their house on the market. This generally facilitates house sales, since the waiting list is a self-selected set of interested buyers. It is to the benefit of the seller and to the rest of the community to see that the new buyer wants to take part in the community, so typically prospective buyers are asked to attend at least a meal and a community meeting. When it comes to resales, experience has shown that homes in cohousing have held their value or have appreciated faster than the market as a whole.

I’d like to financially support Rachel Carson EcoVillage in some other way besides becoming a member.  Is there a way to do that?

Yes!  Monetary contributions can be made in varying amounts via our Donate Page – your gift will help to cover marketing and outreach efforts as well as increase the events we host for the public.