Policy Example: Participation


We support one another in building our community life together and promoting the overall sustainability of our lives, our farm and our land. We have not set rigid requirements as we consider the work hours we spend, the meetings we attend, the committees we serve, and/or the many tasks we undertake. There are some chores that we share equally; there are others that we select according to interest, skills, and time. We count on each other to feel responsibility for the great variety of tasks in managing and living in a community of this size and intention.

Community Meetings and Workdays

We hold an expectation of regular participation in community meetings and workdays.

  1. Community meetings are held once each month. An annual schedule is established and publicized so that we can make these a priority in our lives.
  2. Community workdays are also scheduled for every month and set well in advance. Our working time together not only accomplishes an amazing amount beyond the routine chores, but is a good time of colleagueship and community building. We need all of us!
Routine Work

Some tasks are simply shared in a cohousing community. At Cobb Hill these include:

  1. "Feeding and stoking" the garn (our heating unit). We have agreed to a clear expectation related to the size of our living units, e.g. X times per week for a three floor home and X times per week per studio apartment. We sign up for garn duty on sheets posted in the garn room.
  2. Wood stacking and moving. Without a physical disability, each of us is committed to putting a minimun of 8 hours per year into these essential tasks. We do much of the major work on monthly workdays and respond to email invitations to help out when a special need arises.
  3. Common House cleaning. We rotate the chore of cleaning the common house thoroughly, with teams of 4 residents cleaning for a two-week interval. We clean just about once every four months. These teams are assigned by the Common House Committee; we have the opportunity to swap times if they are not convenient for us.
  4. Path maintenance. In winter, this involves shoveling and sanding; in summer, it means tidying up! The community plows the emergency access roads, but it is up to residents to see that the narrower paths between houses and down the hill are kept clear and safe. Households sharing paths agree informally to cover them all, and it works quite well.
  5. Common meal preparation and cleanup. We rotate cooking and cleanup for our common meals, which are scheduled two times each week. Sign-up sheets are posted in the mudroom. Two cooks for each meal plan the menu, purchase the food, prepare the meal, and clean up afterwards (with everyone pitching in to help with cleanup).

Community Self-Governance

Community management activities, while depending upon all residents, can be more flexible in participation. These include:

  1. Common Economy. We all participate in developing and approving the annual budget.
  2. Clerking Committee members meet regularly and all residents are invited to take part in the meetings. This committee organizes community meetings and oversees Cobb Hill life and activities.
  3. Committee Chairs. Every committee has a Chair or two Co-chairs.
  4. Standing committees involve many of us in community organization; it does take all of us to manage Cobb Hill and to make it a well-functioning place to live. Participation is driven by interests and capabilities. Standing committees at this time, most with regular monthly meetings, are:
    • CHOPS (Cobb Hill Operations)
    • Common House
    • Community Well Being (CWB)
    • CSA and Farm Core (Support)
    • Forestry
    • Land Use
    • Legal/Finance
    • Membership
  5. Ad Hoc committees are formed to deal with specific, time-bound issues.
  6. There are many small jobs that need doing, independent of the committee structure. We hope folks will take initiative when they see something that needs doing and that they can do.

Optional Opportunities

  1. Enterprises. Cobb Hill has a serious intention to manage and improve our 270 acres of farm, pasture and forest. One of the ways this is accomplished is through enterprises that offer opportunities to get the necessary work done, to make real our dreams, to learn and use new skills, and to spend useful time together. Each is organized differently, with some as independent partnerships. Many offer opportunities for investment, paid work, barter and/or volunteer labor. Cobb Hill enterprises now include:
    • Berries
    • Cobb Hill Eggs
    • Cobb Hill Cheese
    • Cobb Hill Honey
    • Cobb Hill Icelandic (sheep)
    • Cobb Hill Syrup
    • Cobb Hill frozen yogurt
    • More are possible!
  2. Cobb Hill Farmstand. We sell Cobb Hill vegetables and other products year-round at our farmstand.
  3. Norwich Farmers Market. From May through October, two members work at our Cobb Hill Cheese booth at the Norwich Farmers Market. At the market we meet and greet the public for Cobb Hill, and network with area farmers, cooks and artists.
  4. Hartland Farmers Market. From May through October, two members work at our booth selling vegetables, maple syrup, Cobb Hill cheese, and Cobb Hill frozen yogurt.
  5. Special Events at Cobb Hill. Films, workshops, sweat Lodges, art installations, spiritual ceremonies, parties, Open Mic evenings and other special events happen when members create and publicize them. We bring our own good talents and ideas, join others and/or just applaud.

Original: http://www.cobbhill.org/membership/participation