What is the process for developing a cohousing community?
Cohousing groups move through a series of well-documented phases. The definition and requirements of membership evolve and change as the group progresses in its journey. Membership requirements typically change in the shift from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and again in Phase 5.
Phase 1: Information and Informal Membership
The first phase is focused on gathering information and bringing people together to discuss the potential formation of a cohousing group. Membership is informal: there are no fees and no membership rights, obligations or restrictions.
Phase 2: Group Formation
As a cohousing group grows, it becomes important to confirm that those who are participating in decision-making are aligned with the group’s vision and values and committed to the project’s success. In the second phase, cohousing groups begin to differentiate “members” from non-members, formalize their operations, and define meeting and decision-making processes. This stage typically involves setting up a non-profit corporation to receive membership fees and govern the group’s operations during Phases 2-4, prior to acquiring a site and beginning construction.
Phase 5: Commitment
The commitment to invest in the purchase and development of a site is a crucial step, and some members may choose not to go forward with the group at this point. In this phase, a development corporation is set up and a schedule of “cash calls” is established to purchase a site, develop the architectural design, engage in the permitting process, and secure a construction loan.
Sweetfern’s Journey On The Path
Cohabitat Sweetfern Cohousing was initiated in July 2017 by several households. Individuals from these households have taken the lead in networking to attract more members and coordinating meetings to discuss the formation of a core group to develop a cohousing community. During Phase 1, those who expressed an interest have had an opportunity to complete surveys and take part in discussions to agree on meeting schedules, committee interests, and group mission, vision and values.