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Check Us Out

The General Circle meeting on May 28 started with a potluck dinner under the trees in Wes and Sandra’s back yard, which may be how all meetings in a perfect world would start. Afterward, we moved indoors to get down to business. Two circles presented the results of their research and thinking. Both had taken their respective tasks to heart and both led to questions and interested comments. The minutes of the meeting will give a better summary of all the ins and outs than I will attempt here. Blogger’s license, as I understand it, means I can skip the details and focus on highlights.

So, in this post, I’ll recount what (to me) were the highlights of the Membership Circle’s presentation.

The Membership Circle was charged with working out a stepped membership system that would lead new members from first contact with WRCP through to full participation. What the circle came up with is a refinement of a fairly standard system that we had discussed previously. If I understood it correctly, this refined version allows for newbies (the “just curious”) to sit in on meetings and be assigned mentors, before graduating to “associate,” and then “active,” and finally “equity” status. The “active” stage was a new wrinkle in the system, and Madeline, speaking for the circle, walked the rest of us through their reasoning. Which was, I think, understood and accepted.

But this wasn’t the point that inspired the most intense discussion. Because Liz, mainstay of the Financial Circle, had suggested the possibility that members be subjected to some kind of security or safety check, the Membership group got to thinking this was something to take into consideration. Views differed within the circle so they put it as a question to the General meeting. And views, again, differed.

What kind of check would we subject prospective members to? A police check? A financial capacity check? There were those who favored one or the other. But my sense of the meeting was that some, at least, considered and rejected these tests in favor of something less intrusive. A suggestion that met with approval by several among us was that aspirants submit references attesting to … I’m not sure what. Their history of voluntarism? Their outstanding character?

For what it’s worth, I have reservations about any such check. The point of the membership process (and ultimately the point of cohousing) is that we purposefully get to know one another. We work together, have fun together and build a community together. Trust is a necessary product of the process—or the process fails. I don’t see a police check, or even a reference, fitting into this progression.

The discussion, however, was a good one: just about everyone had something to contribute. Madeline and Co. are taking what they heard back to their circle for further deliberation.


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