Plenary meetings 22/02 and 09/03

Hello @reeflings,

There’s a lot of things going on for the moment, yet after having discussed the situation with a couple of people it seems like we don’t have enough topics that are ready and suitable for a plenary meeting this Wednesday (22/02).

As a result my proposal is to cancel the plenary meeting and to replace with an optional potluck dinner. The location will be confirmed hopefully tomorrow.

That being said I would like to give a heads up that the next plenary meeting (09/03) will most likely be a bit different from the others. Chris and I had a very constructive heart-to-heart this evening, catching up in our capacity of friends and fellow Reeflings. In our capacity of Group Coordinator and Coordinator of Team Community / Conflict Management however we agreed that there seems to be a need to honour the “as slowly as necessary” part of our mantra, and to take the time to talk about a couple of things that have been causing frustration here and there.

All that to say two things:

  • If you can’t make it on the 9th of March, no worries, we’ll debrief you one way or another, but if you would have the possibility to shuffle things around a little so that you can be present that would be much appreciated.

  • There’s a bit of tension under the waterline here and there and that’s ok. I have spoken to a lot of people these last few days, and I’m confident that with a couple of well-targeted talks we’re gonna manage to clarify and change a couple of things and then move on and purchase that bloody site. Until we have those talks though - where all possible kinds of frustration will be welcomed - I would be really grateful if we could all make an effort to go easy on each other and to shy away from topics that may be overly contentious (if possible).

And that being said: please feel welcome me by phone if you would like to talk, or reach out to the people from Team Conflict Management, or to any Reefling you feel comfortable with.


Hello @reeflings,

So I discussed it with David, and we agree that my place is easy and cheap, so why not use it? Feel free to propose something else of course …

So without a counterproposal, if it’s at my place, you are welcome any time, though you may need to self-entertain if you come before 7 pm. I’m feeling a bit low energy these days, so it could happen that I close the shop around 9:30 (there is a very good bar next door in case of need).

Here’s a poll in case you would like to confirm your presence:

  • Yup, I’ll be there!
  • Sorry, can’t make it!

0 voters

See you tomorrow!


Thanks a lot @Lee for sharing these updates, reflections, availability and your sweet words! Tomorrow I will not be able to join you for the potluck, have a nice time!


This is a really nice idea. Thank you for proposing and hosting. And we can definitely leave whenever you want us to move.

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@Lee Unfortunately my housemate just tested positive for covid. So unfortunately, I’ll be limiting my social contacts for some time and won’t join tonight. :frowning: Hope you have a good time tonight!


Unfortunately something has come up and I’m not going to be able to make it tonight in the end. I hope you all have a wonderful evening :slight_smile:

Enjoy the potluck tonight! Jolan and I can’t make it this time, but we’re looking forward to next plenary. See you all then!

Hello @reeflings,

As much as I would like to welcome you at my place tonight, I need to take care of myself, as I am feeling quite unwell (physically) and I need to rest.

I’ll share the same message in the Signal group: don’t let that stop you from meeting up eh. Maybe you can find a bar that is easy to reach for everybody, somewhere in the city center?


Hello @reeflings!

Here’s for tomorrow’s plenary …


  • We meet at my place, preferably 10-15 minutes in advance, so that we can start at 19:30 sharp.

  • Internal link to the agenda:

  • As announced before it’s going to be a bit of a different plenary meeting compared to what we normally do. See Chris’s post below for further details (coming up in a bit).

  • No need to worry about tensions or frustrations. Nobody’s angry or very upset (that I know of at least), we’re just figuring things out as we go, and adjusting our course as needed (see Chris’s post + my longer story below)

The longer story on what happened

In the first post above I referred to some “tensions” and “frustrations”. I couldn’t go much into the details of it because we were in the middle of sorting it out, but now that we’re a bit more on top of things I figure it would be a good thing to clarify what happened.

1. The misunderstanding about conditional full membership

Some of the current full members had been granted “conditional full membership”, which is something we invented to be able to speed up a little. It meant that they could become a full member, but only pay the 2000 euro when they got the green light from the bank.

That created some misunderstandings and accordingly some strong feelings for mostly everybody involved, but once we took the time to talk it out, it took less than 10 minutes before we had reached a thorough mutual understanding of each other’s point of view, and we were ready to carry on. One key conclusion from this part of the discussion was the importance of financial security.

As a background: we have a tradition of organising “full members dinners”, and we happened to have planned one on the 26th of February. The purpose of these gatherings is to check in with each other and see where we stand. It’s for full members only, not because we don’t like the associate members, but because we find that having a serious financial stake in this project changes the dynamic, and its good to have a platform a couple of times a year to just take the time to see how things are going.

2. Becoming more efficient

When we took stock of other tensions and frustrations, the (lack of) speed at which we are making progress came up strongly. We had a long discussion about it and would like to continue it with the entire group.

3. Governance mistake no 1

When we did the first enlargement, in June 2022, we went from four Full Members (Ugne, Manuel, Alberto and I), to a group of more than 25 people (of which only Sophie, Chris, Sarah, Ralf and Laurianne stayed). At the time it made a lot of sense to give full decision rights to associate members, 1) because the decisions we were taking were of rather low signficance, and 2) because numerically it wouldn’t have worked to take decisions with the four of us with all the new people just sitting there.

Right now however, we realise that the importance of the decisions we are taking has gone up significantly, and that this arrangement no longer works for us (or at least not much longer). We talked about it at length and concluded that we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place, and that there is no way out of this situation without feeling dearly uncomfortable about it. We had hoped that it would be possible to be peers on all fronts with the people who joined as associate members, and sadly we have had to learn that this is not always possible :cry:.

4. Governance mistake no 2

When we did the first enlargement, we were still in a rather experimental phase, figuring out things on how we could work together as a bigger group. In that context it made a lot of sense to give people more time to decide on whether they wanted to become associate and then full members. The June group for example got until 15 October to decide on associate membership, and until 15 January on full membership.

Now that we are where we are however, we have learned that long deadlines lead to people taking a lot of time, without adding much to the quality of the decision. We also found out that the 3-6 month window that we currently allow for people to decide on full membership has significant adverse effects that we hadn’t foreseen. Here again we concluded that we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place, without many elegant solutions to bargain us out.

5. Other tensions that are lurking beneath the surface

Based on informal talks we also gathered that there are some more little tensions and points that lack sufficient clarity lurking beneath the surface. These are also addressed in Chris’s post below and they will also be on the agenda tomorrow.

Where we are now

My personal feeling is that all in all were doing rather well. This is the first time that we are running a bit into trouble, and it definitely won’t be the last time. What matters to me is how we manage to get out of trouble, and whether we can keep communicating and looking for solutions.

Chris’s post below will take it from here …


Hi everyone!

The plenary tomorrow will be a little different to the previous ones, and it would be good for everyone to be clear about what this plenary is all about. In brief, it will be an opportunity to use our collective intelligence to find the balance between being an ambitious financial enterprise and a compassionate community, both of which are important.

One of the challenges of a project such as ours is avoiding hierarchy, as well as maintaining a balance between sociocratic values and efficiency. However, some hierarchy is unavoidable, with regard to people joining the group at different times and having different levels of involvement moving such an enormous project forward. Currently, level 3 and 4 decisions are taken by all members (full and associate) at plenaries, and decisions about membership are taken by the full members.

Based on the discussions we’ve had recently, and in the interest of the project, the full members would like to move forward as follows:

· We would no longer accept conditional full membership applications. This means that when somebody applies for full membership, they need to have a green light from the confesseur or confirmation from the bank or Immotheker. This is to avoid confusing situations that arise from lack of clarity about whether somebody will become an actual full member or not.

· For current associate members, the window for deciding to become full members is from 15 March to 15 June. This 3-month window has always existed, but is no longer suitable for this stage of the project. It is possible that we find a site soon after beginning our search, and at that point we will need to be clear how many households are ready to financially contribute. Therefore, current associate members are strongly encouraged to decide by 22 March if they want to become full members, so that when we evaluate at the Reeflings weekend if we are in a position to move forward, we can do so with a clearer idea about how many we realistically are. However, it is not an obligation to do so.

· From 22 March, associate members would no longer be able take part in level 3 and 4 decisions, vote for members of the ASBL board or be a candidate for the board. This is to avoid situations where people join the project for a short period, but are able to influence significant decisions during that time. It is also to ensure that the many significant decisions that we are about to make are made by those who are taking the most risk by investing in the project.

· The confesseur process needs to be clearer and stricter. There will be a post and proposal about this soon.

There are other changes to discuss as a group, in order to build some momentum and enhance our levels of clarity and efficiency. For example:

· Plenary meetings need to be more efficient in terms of making decisions. Therefore, they need to start on time, and everyone that wishes to participate should have read the proposal or post beforehand.

· Everyone needs to commit to doing their two hours per week of Reef-related tasks.

These are just starting points for discussion. We are an extraordinary group of people, who are undertaking an incredibly ambitious and meaningful project together, so it is important that we communicate well and move forward with as much clarity as possible :slight_smile:

Finally, if there is time, we can begin a discussion regarding how we raise concerns, both personal ones and those related to the overall project. At the moment, it is not always clear what the appropriate way is to do this, and it is obviously important that everyone is able to voice the issues that concern them. If there is not enough time, we will move this item to the Reeflings weekend.



Thank you both for the detailed writeups! This is a quick post to say that sadly Nic and I won’t be able to join tomorrow as something else with high priority has come up. Nic will send a message to Chris as well, since Nic is a member of team Community and so tomorrow’s meeting is quite important for that team. We’ll be diligently reading the minutes and edgeryders posts about the plenary so we don’t miss anything.



Hi @reeflings!
writing for @Dave_behave: For tonight’s place forget the address that was stated in the calendar. The plenary meeting is taking place at Lie’s place, as noted in the agenda/minutes document.

See you later!


I have added the minutes to the plenary document. @Lee maybe you could add the title of the book you mentioned about power and its implications in co-housing, I didn’t catch the name :slight_smile:

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This is the book: The Empowerment Manual