Becoming A Member

  • Note that the terms ‘Friend’, “Explorer‘ and“Start-up Member / Full Member’ , apply to a household, not each individual in a household i.e., a Member may be a single individual or the adults in a family.

FRIENDS are welcomed to attend Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing business meetings and social events. Friends may attend a maximum of four events before becoming an Explorer. Friends may ask questions when invited to do so at a business meeting, but are otherwise expected to be observers.

EXPLORERS invest $350 as a non-refundable deposit on membership in Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing, which enables existing and potential members to get to know one another. When invited to join as a Start-up member, the Explorer’s deposit will be applied to the membership fee. Explorers are entitled to 3 months of participation in business meetings, social events, and one-on-one meetings with members. EXPLORERS have no decision-making rights, but are encouraged and expected to participate in discussions.

Explorers will be asked to attend a self-paid workshop on cohousing before becoming Full Members.

To become a START-UP MEMBER, adults in the EXPLORER household will have a meeting with at least two members of the Membership committee or others as designated by the Membership committee. Some clarification questions of the potential Start-up member household (e.g. time commitment required; committee involvement; financial resources required), a brief orientation and an opportunity for the potential household adults to ask questions will take place at the meeting. 

Potential START-UP MEMBERS must submit 2 names as personal references for the household. References cannot be relatives of the applicant; they can be people who know adults in the household through volunteer experience or personal contact. A representative from the Membership committee or others as designated by the Membership committee will speak with the references before the household is accepted as a Start-up member.

START-UP MEMBERS pay a non-refundable $3000 membership fee which goes towards Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing’s operations and the initial costs of incorporating as a non-profit. Start-up members are expected to attend all business meetings, participate actively on committees, and be a “buddy” to an Explorer when needed. Start-up members have rights to participate in all decisions that affect the group and the cohousing project.

Funds received from Explorers and Start-up members will be held in our bank account with two signatures and the Sweetfern group will receive an accounting of expenditures at its business meetings.

The Membership committee will recommend to the Sweetfern community, at a Coordination Meeting, that a household be accepted as a Start-up member (eventually a Full Member, with the required investment.

FULL MEMBERS invest $7,000 (non-refundable – those that were Start-up members who have already paid $3000 will only pay an additional $4000), which will be used for incorporation, marketing, professional fees, and site optioning. Start-up members are expected to make the commitment to becoming Full members within 6 weeks of incorporation as a non-profit.

Development corporation

Phases 5-8 focus on site acquisition and development of the cohousing community. These phases typically require a series of larger cash contributions from each household. In many cases, the non-profit corporation is retired and a development corporation is set up when financing is needed to purchase the site and proceed with design, permitting and construction.

EQUITY MEMBERS intend to live in the Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing community when it is built and have made a commitment to purchasing a unit. They respond to a scheduled series of ‘cash calls’ that support site purchase, architectural design, permitting, and construction. Contributions from EQUITY MEMBERS are applied to the down payment on their selected units. Becoming an EQUITY MEMBER is a prerequisite to buying a unit in the cohousing community before or during construction.

During this period, Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing will continue to invite FRIENDS and EXPLORERS and to consider membership in the growing community, as described above, until all units are sold. Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing will work with professional advisors to describe the rights and obligations of EXPLORERS and MEMBERS in detail when developing the by-laws of the non-profit and development corporation(s). This may include an expectation that EXPLORERS will participate in a screening interview prior to an invitation to become a MEMBER and that MEMBERS will attend workshops on communications, governance and other relevant topics necessary to advance a high-functioning cohousing community.