Heartwood Cohousing, the masters of governance and documenting :-)

While doing some research on governance issues for cohousings, I came across a cohousing in Colorado called Heartwood, which has such transparent and inspiring agreements that I would like to create a short post about it.

A couple of notes:

  • Heartwood exists since more than 20 years, so in terms of delegation of power and having figured things out they play in a different league, but that doesn’t make their way of working less inspiring.
  • They don’t officially refer to it, but de facto they use a lot of the concepts of Sociocracy 3.0, for example the way they give “full authority” to their teams.
  • Compared to other cohousings’ set-ups that I have seen, they are remarkably formal (which I believe is a strength).
  • They use the term “consensus-based decision-making” for what is defined as “consent-based decision-making” in Sociocracy 3.0. The difference is that consensus aims at full agreement, while consent aims at no fundamental objections.

That being said, these are a couple of things that I think are worth checking out when we are refining our own vision and governance documents:

  • A collection of all Heartwood’s Agreements, going from their vision, to membership to finance and education etc.
  • An overview on how their Teams work (responsibility, authority, leadership, membership, list of their teams, …).
  • An example of the Process and Communication Team’s definition and mandate.
  • A short list with the definition of their values.
  • An overview page with all of the community’s decision logs (i.e. minutes / conclusions from general assembly meetings).
  • An entire page filled with the community’s resources (see e.g. the Facilitation Tools “manual”)

Maybe a bit overwhelming at times and we don’t need to agree with everything they do, but in my view they deserve a big kudos for being so thorough on governance and documenting.


Looks amazing!

Thoroughly agree with that.

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Amazing! I like they are very organized in the documentation process and also I like their transparency. Thank you for sharing this! :grinning:

For documenting agreements there are better tools than a simple website. Tools that allow you to publish more structured docs, better navigation and posibility to add collaboration from visitors,

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