Governance

Joining a Team

The smooth running and operation of Groundswell Cohousing is accomplished through the work of “Teams”. Not only do Teams keep us going, but they bring us together by creating a feeling of community and cooperation, some of the very reasons we choose to live here.

Once you become a resident, you are encouraged to join a team, but you choose which team(s) will be the best fit for your skills. Sometimes you automatically join a team, such as when you have a pet, or a garden plot in the community garden, or lease farm land.

The existence and operation of Groundwell Cohousing relies on everyone helping, according to their abilities. It helps to keep costs/strata fees down also, since we are doing our own work.

Some teams are permanent fixtures and very active, and new teams can form anytime that a new need or project arises. Most of us are on more than one team, at this growing stage of our community but we ask that people limit themselves to 3 teams (not including the automatic teams like pet or garden), to avoid stretching themselves too far.

Here is a partial list of our current teams and the contact people for each team:

  • Web Team
  • Maintenance Team
  • Facilitation Team
  • Decoration Team
  • Stream/Stewart Creek Team
  • Farm Team
  • Conflict Resolution Team
  • Pet Team(all pet owners/and interest others)
  • Landscape Team
  • Community Garden Team
  • Membership & Marketing Team
  • Childcare Team
  • Community Meals Team
  • Finance Team
  • LAN team Team
  • others as the need arises

Community Decision Making Process

Major decisions are made by the entire community, at regularly held community meetings. The proposal goes through a series of steps in teams and in more general meetings, where you may participate, before it comes to a group consensus. A decision made at a community meeting is binding and cannot be easily revoked—if you miss the meeting, you miss that direct chance to affect the decision made. Minor decisions may progress quite quickly.

The method we use for decision making is based on consensus. The seven steps of our consensus decision making process are outlined below (based on the method developed by Tree Bressen):

1. Introduction to Issue: The presenter explains why we are discussing the issue, the history of the issue, and the goal for that meeting. The issue may also take the form of a proposal.

2. Clarifying Questions: Residents ask questions of understanding only—short and sweet.

3. Discussion: Time for further questions to bring out a diversity of values, concerns, and perspectives. The facilitator notes agreements and disagreements, and the underlying reasons for them are discussed.

4. Establish Basic Direction: What would best serve the whole? General or philosophical agreement.

5. Synthesize or Modify Proposal as needed: The facilitator notes specific agreements/disagreements and the underlying reasons for them. Ideas are put forward to address concerns and potential solutions are evaluated.

6. Call for Consensus: Residents indicate whether they are in favour of the decision using a green card, yellow card, or red card system (explained during community meetings).

7. Record:  A notetaker records the decision, tasks, timeline, and implementation.

From Wikipedia:

As a decision-making process, consensus decision-making aims to be:
• Agreement Seeking: A consensus decision making process attempts to help everyone get what they need.
Collaborative: Participants contribute to a shared proposal and shape it into a decision that meets the concerns of all group members as much as possible.
Cooperative: Participants in an effective consensus process should strive to reach the best possible decision for the group and all of its members, rather than competing for personal preferences.
Egalitarian: All members of a consensus decision-making body should be afforded, as much as possible, equal input into the process. All members have the opportunity to present, and amend proposals.
Inclusive: As many stakeholders as possible should be involved in the consensus decision-making process.
Participatory: The consensus process should actively solicit the input and participation of all decision-makers.