Cohousing is known for having lots of meetings. Some people like them, others, not so much. But, long and short, meetings are necessary because they help to get things done. So we have lots of meetings! And however we feel about meetings in general, everyone seems to leave our meetings feeling a sense of accomplishment and uplift.
I attribute the success of WRCP’s meetings in large measure, to our decision-making process and a self-governance structure, called sociocracy (or dynamic governance). Sociocracy uses “rounds” as a form of discussion to make sure everyone is heard. During discussions, anyone in the group can call for a round at any time, to be sure that we are all talking about the same issue, or to get clarity on some aspect of the topic, or just to see how everyone is feeling about the discussion. The round gives each member an opportunity to speak on the subject under discussion, as we go around the circle. Once everyone has spoken, if anyone has more to say, the round continues until everyone has expressed their concerns, asked their questions, and received clarity. It works really well.
So, last Sunday afternoon we had a social gathering (not a “meeting”, per se), to celebrate the fact that Waterloo Region Cohousing Project has officially completed the process of incorporation. Part of incorporation is the creation of by-laws specific to our community so this conclave gave each of us a chance to celebrate our favourite by-law (think: noise by-law, pet by-law, parking by-law, clothesline by-law...). We did this by dressing up as a by-law we wanted written/discussed/added to the roster. This was fun! On top of everything else, we were having a potluck dinner with all the attendant amazing variety and volume of foods.
You’d think this would probably be enough to fill a two-hour meeting. We had a wonderful, musical land acknowledgement, we chatted, we ate and drank, we sang well-known songs and then re-wrote those songs to be about cohousing, we checked out each other’s by-law picks – I wore a music shirt because I want to be sure that we have music in our community and I also hung a dog leash around my neck to bring attention to the idea of having a good pet policy. We decorated ceramic tiles as a permanent commemoration of the occasion, we ate and drank and visited more. And then… without anyone planning it or calling for it, a meeting broke out.
A really interesting opportunity for our community has arisen, just in the last week. It may be the answer to the question that our Land Acquisition Circle has been trying to answer for the last couple of years. That being: where are we going to build the homes that our community will live in? If we have an answer to that question, that’s pretty significant. So someone commented on this and then suggested that we have a round on the topic.
In the end we had a couple of rounds on the topic and on the questions and resulting ideas that arose from the discussion. It was great! Without even planning to, we had a very effective and positive meeting, on one of the major issues effecting our group. And that came on top of a really enjoyable and effective social gathering.
Everybody seemed to have had a good time and felt the meeting was good. Maybe meetings aren’t so bad after all… Go figure.