Policy Example: Participation

The following proposal is intended as a point-of-departure. The Participation Team developed this system based on a review of other cohousing communities and input from Columbia Ecovillage members. The initial system will be reviewed periodically and refined as appropriate.
Residents of Columbia Ecovillage enjoy a wonderful landscape and network of buildings, paths, and other elements that are held in common by the Community. Care and improvement of these elements are necessary so that the property is maintained and quality of life for residents enhanced. Meals are also a central component of community life. A participation system is important for getting the work done, building community through working with our neighbors, and minimizing Homeowner Association dues. The Columbia Ecovillage participation system is designed to facilitate joyful and equitable sharing of the work necessary for a functioning community.
The following participation requirements should be viewed as the minimum or basic amount of work necessary to keep Columbia Ecovillage running. Residents are encouraged to consider how the community thrives when members contribute beyond the minimum.
Adult community members 18 and over are required to:
  • Actively participate on at least one Team.
  • Participate in four ½ day work parties per year, or equivalent work party related hours.
  • Work eight hours per month on tasks defined by Teams, including at least one task pertaining to meals (e.g., cook, prep, clean) per month. Board members’ work counts toward their monthly hours except they must still sign up for at least one food task per month.
Renters – Participation by renters is strongly encouraged. As per the By-laws, it is the responsibility of renters and homeowners to determine whether the renter will complete the participation requirements assigned to the Unit, and if so, for the Owner to notify the Board in writing of such agreement. In the event that the renter does not fulfill the participation requirements for the Unit, the Owner is solely responsible for any fees or penalties accrued.
Children – A requirement for children will be developed in consultation with the Children’s Team. This is likely to include requirements for a range for ages (e.g., 5 to 8 years old, 9 to 13, and 14 to 18).
Periodic review – The Participation Team will periodically check in with residents and Teams regarding how the system is working and propose revisions to the system as appropriate.
Tracking – Participation requirements will be tracked for the first few years as a way to organize tasks and assess what is required for the Village to run well. The Participation Team may propose eliminating the tracking of hours if this seems appropriate and in the best interest of the Community
Barter, Buy, Bank
Residents may barter (trade tasks) or buy (pay someone) with other residents, or bank (stock) their participation hours, except for one meal task per month. A cap or other restrictions may be placed on banking (e.g., not cleaning the bathroom every day for 4 days to stock up the month of bathroom cleaning). When residents barter or buy, the hours are entered in the ledger of the person for whom the hours are accruing (e.g., I take care of Sally’s cat while she is on vacation so she works 2 hours for me and enters the 2 hours in my ledger). The intent of this option is to accommodate circumstances when it is difficult to fulfill participation requirements; the option is not intended to provide residents a mechanism to regularly opt out of participation in the functioning of the Village.
Incentives – On a quarterly basis, each resident’s participation hours will be calculated and residents who have not completed their hourly participation commitments will be assessed $20 per hour not completed. The payment of fees is not meant to be a regular means of fulfilling monthly participation requirements. Residents are encouraged to reflect upon how the Community is impacted by their participation (or lack thereof). A reward system for residents who consistently go “above and beyond” may be developed.
Unique Circumstances – Special dispensation will be made on a case-by-case basis with residents who are unable to fulfill their requirements (in consultation with the Process Team if appropriate).
Defining, Signing Up For, and Recording Jobs/Tasks
Teams identify and define jobs/tasks, including a clear description of what the job entails and how many “hours earned” the job is worth.
Teams are responsible for “quality control” – e.g., did the job get done and was it completed properly. If there are questions or issues, the Team attempts to reconcile this with the person that signed up for the task (e.g., check-in about what happened, gentle reminder about what the job entails). If necessary, the Team can request assistance from the Participation and/or Process Team.
Each quarter/season, Teams will identify the regular jobs that need to be completed for that quarter. The Participation Team will work with Teams to help develop a list of tasks/jobs that is appropriate to the total number of person hours available.
A system will be devised to handle ad hoc jobs.
Jobs will be posted on a common area board where people can sign up for the jobs that they want. (A sign up rotation system may be instituted in the future, e.g., alphabetical, or by unit).
When a person completes a job/task they will record their job on a record sheet kept near the sign up board. They will also record any volunteer hours contributed.”
When a person completes a job/task they will provide the Team with their name and the hours it took to complete the job. This information is collected so that the Team can confirm that the defined hours earned are on track and modify if appropriate. The collection system for these “chits” will also be stored by the sign up board and personal time sheet records. • One job will be to record person hours into a master database for the purposes of calculating required quarterly hours and other record-keeping.
Appropriate Teams need to be identified for care and cleaning of common interiors, building and facility maintenance (including trash and recycling), and animal care. 1-4-09
Banking Hours
Hours accumulated in addition to the quarterly requirement may be banked for future use. Residents can bank up to 3 months’ woth of hours to be used at the resident’s discretion, with no expiration of banked hours. Banking more than 3 months’’ worth of hours may be negotiated with the Participation team and approved by the Participation team and the CEV Board of Directors. The Banking policy will be reviewed in January 2011. 9-27-09.