Pleasant Hill Cohousing
Community Expectations - Common Meals - Committees -
Business Meetings - Consensus Decision-Making - Use of Colored Cards -
Having Fun Together
Community members are expected to do the following, to the best of their ability:
Our goal is to have common meals twice a week, using a 2 person cook team and 2 person cleanup team for each meal. The menu and day are cook's choice. Usually there is a vegetarian or vegan option, and some child-friendly food. We have enjoyed meals ranging from a Nepalese curry dinner to make-your-own burritos. We also have a potluck on Sunday evening. Additionally, we have had special common meals or potlucks to celebrate seasonal festivals such as Cinco de Mayo, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Day of the Dead, Deepavali (Indian festival of lights), Christmas, and others.
Committes are an essential part of living in community. Work done by committees saves everyone having to get together to discuss or decide specific issues. All members are expected to actively serve on at least one committee. Committee work is also an opportunity to deepen relationships with other community members.
We have the following "standing committees." When needed, we also create ad-hoc committees to do particular tasks such as getting the second bike shed built or researching new lights for the pathways.
*Executive Committee - The Executive Committee (ExCom) is elected each year and includes the legally mandated HOA officers (President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc.) plus a few additional positions.
We have business meetings once a month. We vary the day and time in an effort to accommodate people's work and family schedules. Currently, we alternate between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. The schedule and agenda are set by the Executive Committee. Meetings go for 2 hours and rarely go overtime. Each meeting has a facilitator. Other jobs during the meeting are: notetaker, card coordinator, timer, child care coordinator, and vibes watcher.
Like most other cohousing communities, we decided early on that we wanted to make our decisions by consensus. Consensus is based on the belief that each person has some part of the truth and that no one has all of it. It is based on a respect for all persons involved in the decision being considered. If a proposal makes a few people, even one person, deeply unhappy, then there is a valid reason for that unhappiness, and if we ignore it, we are likely to make a mistake. Making decisions by consensus means that all members either agree to the proposal or agree not to contest moving forward with the proposal. We also have an alternative decision-making procedure that would come into play if consensus cannot be reached after a number of attempts and/or there is a crucial deadline, but we have used it only rarely. Read more about consensus: "Basics of Consensus" by Rob Sandelin.
Use of Colored Cards
During our meetings, we use colored cards. Each member has a set of seven different-colored cards. The cards are a useful way for members to communicate their stance when we are in the process of seeking consensus. The reverse side of the card is often used during discussions, although at some meetings, at the facilitator's discretion, we sometimes don't use the cards during discussion. When we do use cards during discussion, one must first put up a colored card and wait to be called on before speaking on an issue. We've found that this system really helps keep the meeting flowing smoothly.
Having Fun Together
Memorial Day Camping Trip
Fun! Isn't that why we're here? Yes, we do find time to have fun together. Some activities we enjoy are: birthday parties, dances, barbeques, yoga classes, video nights, Friday night discussion forums, bridge/game nights, camping trips, soaking in the hot tub, swimming and playing in the pool (the kids are especially fond of that one), and lots of impromptu get togethers. Check out our Photo Gallery to see some examples.