Samenhuizen Academy course about recruitment

A while ago I attended the Samenhuizen Academy course about recruitment.

Just like the previous courses this one was very interesting, but difficult to usefully summarise for readers on this forum. Below you can find a couple of key take-aways.

On recruitment

  • Recruitment is super important. If you don’t take sufficient time to check out whether a potential new member would fit in well, things may go terribly wrong. This is true both for members who want to buy a unit and for members who want to rent a unit.
  • Admission of a new member is so important that it must be decided by consensus.
  • When recruiting new people, it’s important to ask potential new members how they would like to contribute to the community. There has to be a balance between what people give to and receive from the cohousing community.
  • In the teacher’s cohousing, when they refer to “spirituality” as an important pillar, what they mean is that they are looking for people who are willing to make things work, to overcome differences and difficulties.
  • During the discussion two participants shared their experience with a two-tiered membership system (i.e. become an associate member for +/- 150 euro, become a full member for a couple of thousand euros). Both recommended it to keep manage so-called “tourists”. One recommended to limit associate membership to one year maximum, the other mentioned a cohousing group that asked for 4000 euro to become a full member).

Other interesting points discussed during the course

  • The teacher’s recommendation in terms of decision-making was to deal with everything either through teams’ autonomy either by consent-based decision-making (nobody objects). The exceptions are membership and financial issues, which needed to be decided with consensus (everybody agrees).
  • To avoid frustration during circle-based decision-making processes the teacher recommended to look into some strategies used in “deep democracy”, which is a method that pays a lot of attention to dealing with minority views.
  • To avoid that a conflict between two people would polarise the entire group, the teacher recommended we watch a TED talk by William Ury “The walk from no to yes”. The point to take away from this talk relevant for a cohousing is that when two people are having a conflict, it’s important to be their “third side” and help them de-escalate their conflict.

On this topic I also wanted to leave a note about an article I read that I found quite inspiring. It’s entitled “Tough topics in collaborative groups” and is written by Laird Schaub.

In point V “Being selective about members” he makes a case that it’s ok to be discerning about who can join and who can’t.

This, however, requires more guidelines: what a “good member” is, how to assess goodness, etc.

Interestingly, this enables, and even requires, approval voting (it’s a special case thereof, where for anything to go forward it needs to be approved by everyone). The advantage of seeing this as approval voting is that you would ideally present several candidate proposals to every decision. Instead of trying to reach consent on each one them, people can then focus on just marking those they want as “good enough”, in the hope that one of the proposals will be okayed by everyone. This should make the process faster.

1 Like

I think one of the pitfalls of the Governance document is making things too formal. I believe it’s good to agree in advance on a couple of things related to process, but when it becomes too detailed I’m afraid it would become counter-productive. I’d say we leave this to Team Governance in the next phase, inviting them to go out and learn from other cohousings how they approached this.

The way I understand it, this is the definition of consent, not of consensus. I’m not saying I disagree with your point. I just want to flag that this pervasive vagueness about these two concepts makes me a bit nervous sometimes.

I understand it the same way. Approval voting + consent => focus on each person examining multiple proposals rather than convincing each other that one particular proposal is good => increased efficiency.