Minutes of the community monthly meeting

21 April, 2018

PRESENT:
32 Community members.

AGENDA:

  1. Use of the common house
  2. Rainwater collector
  3. Training organized by the on-site (community's) NGO
  4. Membership matters
  5. Animal policy
  6. Volunteer day ('subbotnik')

1. USE OF THE COMMON HOUSE

B. said: "It's been frustrating for me to see the mess in the common house lately. I know we take turns to clean up after dinner, but some people are staying late, leaving dirty plates and snacks all over the place."

U.: "And sometimes we find dirty cups and missing chairs in the conference room when we're about to start a training. If you schedule an event, could you finish 10 min. earlier and make sure the room looks neat for the next group? We could clean it ourselves, but not taking up time from the training. And if there is nothing scheduled, it shouldn't be open for people to mess it up."

C. said: I've stopped by the library twice last week to pick up a book and there was a meeting and a drawing class, which I didn't know about. So I felt bad interrupting it. How can we know who is using what space and when?"

B.: "And I stopped by the tool workshop two weeks ago and found kids playing there. That's not a playground for kids! Can we make sure it's locked if no one is using it?"

E.: "I have a suggestion that may resolve these issues. We could introduce 'an electronic key' system for the common house, like they use in some hotels. This would allow tracking usage and controlling access. The whole system would cost us only 20-25€/adult resident."

G.: "ONLY 25€?!? For some of us it's a good chunk of money. Maybe we should re-visit our Core Principles and see if everybody really follows it, especially regarding the care for common spaces"

People arguing and talking over each other...

P.: Calm down! Let's try to hear each other by speaking one at a time.

T. said: "I already pay my monthly fee, why should I give more? Can it be covered by the Maintenance Fund? Or can we figure out a better system for scheduling events and caring for the common space without fancy electronic gadgets?

C.: "Our Maintenance Fund is quite modest and there are always unpredictable repairs. I'd say we should put more effort into planning and taking care of common facilities. We could have a schedule for all rooms on the announcement board, have limited key access to some rooms, etc. I could work with a few others to design a better system... Anybody interested to help?"

P: Let's vote...

Decision: A small workgroup of 3 will review current usage of common facilities and come back with recommendations.

2. RAINWATER COLLECTOR

R. said: "The Development and Maintenance Committee received a proposal to invest in a common rainwater collection system. The idea and the proposal sound great! It seems to be in line with our mission and would give us additional access to water. Personally I don't like clean potable water from our artesian well to be used for watering the garden in summer. But I'm afraid we don't have any more funds for it in the Development Fund".

A.: "What do you mean no more funds, it's only April?!"

R.: "Yes, but if you remember from last meetings, we have already committed funds for 2 other projects because people thought they were interesting and it was easy for us all to agree on spending the money."

B: "Could we use some money from the Maintenance Fund, or see if people would want to contribute additional funds?"

R.: "The Maintenance Fund was set up for repairs... we can decide to go ahead and spend it, but then if the water pump breaks, who will pay for replacing it? I don't think it's fair to ask people to keep giving money, we should have more financial discipline."

Decision: No funding available from the Development Fund for this project.

3. TRAINING ORGANIZED BY COMMUNITY'S NGO

L. said: As many of you already know, our NGO will be organizing a vocational skills training for teens in 3 weeks. We will have 9 participants from around Moldova and 5 from the neighboring village. It's a week-end workshop, so participants will stay here overnight. We will be using the small conference room and the workshop area for sessions and the dining area of the common house for meals. We'll surely discuss logistics regarding meals with the Dining Room Committee, but I wanted to let you know to avoid misunderstandings or cross-scheduling.
There is something else to consider. The training cost of 6840 lei will be covered by a grant. We'll have one participant in a wheelchair. I've looked around our community and there are places where we need to put rails to allow access, for ex. to enter the small conference room or eco-toilets. The rails would need to be installed before the training and would cost around 4200 lei. Could we use the Maintenance Fund for this? Or we could organize a volunteer day and have it installed by community members for half the cost.

O. said: "Why should we go through all this trouble and spend community funds or our time for one participant? I am not even a member of this NGO.

L.: "Environmental education is part of our community's mission, by the way! And since there are participants from the nearby village, it helps us build a good relationship with neighbors, so they don't view us as aliens."

C.: "I'd say let's do it during the volunteer day. We say we're a diverse, accessible community, so let's walk our talk."

4. MEMBERSHIP MATTERS

P. said: Andrei would like to buy a house and become a member of our co-operative. He's participated in a couple of workshops and everybody knows him, right? He likes our community and would like to feel more secure moving in here.

D.: But I thought our statute stipulates that potential new members would need to live in a rented space for two months before buying. It would give them enough time to get a feel of the community and for the community to see if the person is integrating well.

P.: But you've seen Andrei... he seems very nice! Remember, he even came one day to help out when we were building the greenhouse in the garden.

S.: Nobody is saying that Andrei is not a nice guy, but he hasn't been here long enough to understand how things operate, why certain decisions were taken, and we don't have time to argue and explain during meetings why certain things are better done a certain way. I think that two month is o.k. to buy a home, but it should be at least 6 months of living here before the person gets a voting right. Remember Alina, who joined the community 8 months ago? How after 3 months she started arguing why she should pay the monthly maintenance fee AND volunteer once a month.

B.: Well, sometimes we have our own reactions conditioned by our education, family, years spent in a certain environment, and we need reminders to really practice the values we say we uphold. Living here may be a bigger adjustment for some than for others... How many of us remember Chisinau apartment blocks, where everybody makes nice repairs on the inside, but the lift has a nasty smell, the corridor lights are broken and the outside looks like after a war. Or the village houses where the court is swept daily, but the trash is thrown on the street or the creek... We're used to take care of personal things, but now we're learning to see beyond and take responsibility for the environment our actions create. And although we have different 'starting points', we can support each other to TAKE STEPS towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

P.: Regarding new members, I suggest we trust our process and past decisions for now and stick to what is written in our statute. If we need to revise the statute, let's come back another time and discuss it.

R.: What about Sylvia's membership. She left to work in Italy half a year ago and has not paid any membership fees for 4 months now. How do we approach it?

Long silence...

5. ANIMAL POLICY

D.: There've been some complaints about keeping animals in the courtyard. Two families want to keep dogs outside for safety, several people are feeding wild cats and the left-over food is attracting rodents. I've heard that someone wanted to grow rabbits in the backyard. As the Management Committee we can't really respond to those complaints, since we don't have anything written or decided upon as a group when it comes to animals. Any suggestions?

6. VOLUNTEER DAY

P.: I would like to remind everybody that next Saturday is our monthly Volunteer service day. Here is a list of areas that need your support.

a. Web-site updates (translating information, adding new photos) – 3 people
b. Library re-organization in the common house – 2 people
c. storage room clean up – 4 people
d. installing rails for people in the wheelchair – 6 people
e. repainting the north wall of the common house with lime – 2 people
f. common kitchen inventory – 2 people
g. drafting brochures for visitor's self-guided tour – 1 person

As always, first ones to sign up get to choose their 'assignment'. And if you have other commitments this week-end, barter items or cash are accepted in lieu of volunteer contribution.

1Example of a straw bale house, New Zeland

2Through collective design, community structure meets its members' needs Lancaster Cohousing, Marea Britanie

3Clustered homes are more efficient and provide more grean space. River Road Cohousing proposal, SUA

5Optional common meals strengthen community spirit and understanding

 7Common House can include: workshop, dining room, playroom, offices, library, guest rooms, etc.

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Community building is a process, where members learn to work in a group, manage conflicts, find understanding