Abundance and Common Resources

A series of questions were posted to Cohousing-L, the cohousing listserv:

How much, if anything, do you charge members or members’ guests per night in the common guest room? How much, if anything, do you charge members who use common spaces for work or income earning meetings? How much, if anything, do you charge members who want to use the common house or other common areas to host a private social event (e.g., a family birthday party to which other cohousers are not invited)? How much, if anything, do you charge members for use of the common shop space? How much, if anything, do you charge other Cohousing groups in the planning stages to use the common house or common spaces for hosting meetings and information sessions?

Grace Kim responded:

Cohousing is a model that is based on collaboration and mutual support/trust – that is a model for generosity and abundance.

Charging for usage of a common resource (common house, shop space, guest rooms) is operating from a model of scarcity and resource hoarding.

I would encourage you to consider not charging for usage. And for you/your community to consider why you would charge for usage.

If it is to more fairly distribute usage, then you could allot a specified number of days each household is allowed free usage of common house and have a lottery for who gets first dibs on calendar. Or just allow for first come/first served basis (with a limit of 1 year in advance) and evaluate how that went the first year.

If it is to generate revenue needed for upkeep, consider a sliding scale fee that each household pays in to. At outset of this you could determine what an annual budget looks like and make sure the community understands the goal you are trying to get to before they commit to how much they will contribute.

Or you could form work teams to steward each space and if additional funds are needed, they can determine how to raise funds (that are not collected equally from each household). This could be a contribution based on how much do they value that resource being available and what is a meaningful contribution from their family.

Admittedly I’m coming off a training on race/social equity – but I have to note that the idea of charging for a community resource is an act of oppression.  Communities of color share these resources knowing it will aid in the building up of community. Dominant white culture restricts usage/access to community resources due to fear of the collective gaining too much power.

Your decision to charge/not charge can be a simple but conscious act towards undoing systemic racism.

Category: Sharing

Tags: Common House, fees

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