As Lead of Community Agreements for my community, I have come to doubt the value and viability of “fairness.” I think fairness is occasionally possible, but rarely is it always possible for everyone. In a complex situation like cohousing, if we strive to be fair to everyone, we are fair to no one, because the whole process becomes bogged down and nothing ever gets done.
But what do we use in place of a concept of fairness? I think it’s a sense of always leaning into what is best for our community — what will help it grow, survive challenges, evolve into a home, refuge, and place of belonging for all of its members. This means we value relationships, and relationships mean communication about what matters.
Sometimes, for example, I will take one for the team if it means supporting the community (like ditching one of our cars before we arrive & doing ride-sharing when needed, because parking is tight), but it also means the community will have my back if I rip my Achilles tendon again and need people to come move my office downstairs so I can work.
In place of “fairness,” then, I would say cohousing requires an understanding of ebb and flow, of give and take — which means each of us having trust, and earning trust, that we have the community’s best interests at heart, and value our relationships with one another.