We have just formed a Co-housing group, here in Findhorn, called East Whins. We would like to set it up with a Sociocracy governance model as our basic structure, but I am finding it difficult to see how we can do that because of the complexity of the group. And so, I am asking as many as I can to see if I/we can get any clearer.
How can we apply a sociocratic governance structure into our particular setting. How do we structure ourselves in a simple and effective structure in order to be a successful cohousing group that caters for the needs of us as a resident group as well as owners.
I would appreciate any thoughts on this anyone may have.
The question for me is: How do we set up a structure for the Residents Association (RA) that includes takes into account the mix here?
Do we need an RA and another group or can it all be within the one RA. How do we decide who has consent or who can be in which circle. What kind of circles do we make and how do we best link them in order of abstract to concrete (hierarchy). When do we have issues and decisions brought to the whole group of residents or the whole group of owners or both? What issues do owners have consent in and what do the residents and what do both? Do couples and families all have consent or are there times we limit it to one per household/property etc. etc. It feels rather messy at the moment and already there has been some conflict about whether non-committee members attending the committee meeting should be allowed to vote.
Hi Martin, sharing some of my thoughts on your situation - indented paragraphs
You may also wish to contact Bridport Cohousing in Dorset. They’ve created Sociocratic Articles, and have constituted themselves as an Industrial and Provident Society, Limited by Guarantee as I recall.
“Co-housing of 25 proprietors who own private property, 24 own houses/flats and 1 non-resident owns a pottery studio, as well as share in the costs of common facilities such as laundry, common room and gardens. These proprietors make up the members of the only just formed legal entity, the Residents Association (RA). If a couple share ownership, they are allocated only one vote.”
“We were legally obliged by contract to set up n RA a corresponding RA committee from the "proprietors". “
“However, there are about 34 residents. Some houses/flats have single people, others have a couple or a small family. Most are owner occupiers, but some are rentees (of which some are likely to be short term and others very long term). In addition, some houses/flats have shared equity ownership (the resident owns a part share and Park Ecovillage Trust own the remaining majority share). Park Ecovillage Trust also own two flats that are rented out as affordable homes.
We have only just formed a Resident's Association (RA), by creating a RA committee, and this was done because of legal need. Not all houses have been completed yet so not everyone has moved in. There are a number of working groups (eg. the laundry group who volunteer to look after the laundry, the Common Room group who look after the Common Room and so on). This includes our group, the Governance group, who are tasked with comming up with a proposal for our constitution and structure (and decision making procedures).”
so you haven’t yet formalised your legal structure? – this leaves you a lot of scope to create What determined that you allocate one vote per household re the RA?
“The question for me is: How do we set up a structure for the Residents Association (RA) that includes takes into account the mix here?”
“Do we need an RA and another group or can it all be within the one RA.”
“How do we decide who has consent or who can be in which circle.”
“What kind of circles do we make and how do we best link them in order of abstract to concrete (hierarchy).”
“When do we have issues and decisions brought to the whole group of residents or the whole group of owners or both?”
“What issues do owners have consent in and what do the residents and what do both?”
“Do couples and families all have consent or are there times we limit it to one per household/property”
“etc. etc. It feels rather messy at the moment and already there has been some conflict about whether non-committee members attending the committee meeting should be allowed to vote.”
I'm glad to hear of this initiative in Findhorn. I know that Findhorn has a car-pooling group that uses Sociocracy. Has Findhorn embraced Sociocracy in other areas? I hope you can find some local support from those groups as well as from this forum. I will be visiting Findhorn for a course with Joanna Macy from 29th June - 4th July, so maybe we can meet up.
We do have a number of organisations using Sociocracy in some form, mainly experimenting in using the meeting/decision making side of things,. Few are ready to make the leap to double linking circles. The Carpool is the only one that has Sociocracy in their constitution. We are hoping we can develop this further. Will catch you in Findhorn.
Thanks James, very helpful. I am still processing this and hope to give an update soon.
Hey Martin, you're welcome and thanks for the update. I've just, this last hour, been talking with my dear friend Diana Leafe Christian about Findhorn, amongst other topics.
I know that she was there a few weeks ago and presented on Sociocracy to some at the Findhorn Association. I'm excited to see it's a method being explored there and very much look forwards to hearing how and in which ways you may decide to proceed.