A Multi-Stage Process
We value building our interpersonal community first, with land and structures to follow, for our relationships will shape the landscape and the many choices we will make. A multi-stage process for joining Flagstaff Cohousing assists prospective members in learning about us and deciding whether the community will be a good fit for them.
Because living in cohousing is new for many of us, we offer opportunities for prospective members to participate in the social richness that is otherwise hard to come by, and to participate and share in decision-making and responsibilities. We want to make sure everyone has a chance to explore many aspects of cohousing life before making a commitment to the community.
Following is important information to know as you consider membership in Flagstaff Cohousing. It’s intended to clarify where we are in this stage of developing a group of committed people to explore and determine whether we can ultimately create a cohousing community in Flagstaff.
Members of Flagstaff Cohousing are members of a limited liability company, or LLC, our development entity. Once our community is completed, we anticipate that we will own our homes as townhomes or condominiums with a homeowners’ association. Flagstaff Cohousing’s legal entity name is Flagstaff Creative Cohousing, LLC, which is doing business under the tradename Flagstaff Cohousing.
All funds collected by Flagstaff Cohousing will be spent on consultants, design professionals, legal fees, outreach, and other costs relating to the Flagstaff Cohousing’s mission. Flagstaff Cohousing is not a “for profit” venture. No Member should expect a profit based on their membership, their work, or the work of others. However, it is important to us to establish good working relationships with the professionals and contractors with whom we work, and we affirmatively want them to have a positive and profitable experience.
Except for the friendships and community we may form as part of the community-building and exploration process, if the effort does not succeed, no Member should expect to receive any refund or other benefit from their payment to become an Explorer or Member in Flagstaff Cohousing.
We’ve identified seven steps to help families and individuals who are interested in cohousing determine whether they wish to make an eventual commitment.
1. Gathering Information
We invite you to first attend one or more information meetings to interact with community members and obtain a broad overview of cohousing issues. We are eager to share where we are in the process of creating our cohousing community. The meetings vary from more formal (bi-monthly general meetings) to very informal (e.g., tea, coffee or wine at one of the local gathering places), and dates for the various meetings are posted on our website at https://flagstaffcohousing.org.
Let us know that you’re interested. If you think cohousing with our community might be for you, let us know that you’re interested, preferably by chatting with one of us further or by writing to us at email@example.com.
Explore cohousing communities and ideas
· Watch this video from La Querencia CoHousing in Fresno, California, a multi-generational community.
· Review our vision statement on our website.
· Read about cohousing.
· Visit www.cohousing.org
· Visit www.cohousing-solutions.com
We highly recommend reading Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities, by architects Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett. This illustrated manual provides a great overview and includes extensive case studies of dozens of diverse communities in Europe and North America. Copies are available in both Flagstaff Community Public Libraries.
2. Reflection and Soul-searching
Please see the questions we have carefully formulated under Are We a Match? Just go to our FAQs page and scroll down to that section.
3. Join Flagstaff Cohousing as an Explorer
We invite you to become an Explorer and schedule an orientation meeting to go over the status of the community’s development, ask any questions you may have, and pay a non-refundable fee of $250.00 by check made out to Flagstaff Cohousing. At the orientation meeting, we can connect you with a current Member who will be your contact person. This person will guide you through the membership process. As an Explorer, you’ll be invited to attend all meetings and participate in all non-confidential discussions.
The Explorer process is intended to allow an individual or family to become involved so that they can determine if they want to become a Member.
At present, the Explorer status will last up to six months. Once we have a contract to purchase land or have made other significant progress, that term may change.
4. Participate in Some Activities
We ask prospective members who have become Explorers to begin to assist in our creative acts of community by taking part in the activities listed below, giving us all an opportunity to get to know each other better.
Join us on a field trip. About every two months, we plan a field trip relevant to some aspect of cohousing life. We’ve attended conferences on cohousing and visited other cohousing communities in Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon. We go on local outings to look at land together, to tour small houses, or to see alternative energy options. These trips are a great way to see how we are putting our intentions into practice.
Join us for shared social activities. These informal gatherings invoke much laughter and sharing. We learn so much about each other. Your contact person will fill you in on upcoming events.
Attend a committee meeting. We try to stay efficient by allocating tasks and we’ll acquaint you with our current committees. Our committees do the research and work necessary to develop and sustain the community. We invite Explorers to attend a session of one or more of our committees to get an idea of how we function. Just let us know your interest and we’ll include you.
Meet with designated Members to discuss potential financial obligations and levels of risk. We can offer referrals to professionals who can assist households to review the feasibility of their meeting the costs.
Assess the Financial Commitment. While the exact costs of the project overall and therefore the projected costs of individual units is not yet known, the financial commitment of the ultimate participants in the cohousing project will be significant. We are open to discussing the financial challenges and other concerns
5. Review: What Does Membership Mean?
Each Member will be an active participant in decision-making and the varied work of the group as we continue to build our interpersonal community and work toward creating our cohousing community. We anticipate that each adult who participates as a Member will bring their unique skills, interests and talents to this effort. This effort will include a wide range of activities, so we will pool our talents to create social events, work on consensus building, find land, develop policies, have fun, hire professionals, and assist in designing our eventual community. And that’s only a partial list!
As a Member, you will:
· participate fully in decisions regarding the governance and legal affairs of the community,
· participate in site selection and design of the community,
· participate in training sessions for the type of consensus-based decision making and/or compassionate communication that the group selects (this is one of the strongest tools we will use to create and continue as a truly intentional community of good and supportive neighbors), and
· have full privileges in the group’s decision making process.
Here's how we anticipate it will work:
We have engaged a nationally recognized cohousing authority, Katie McCamant of Cohousing Solutions, to help us structure the process. She works in many jurisdictions, and each has its own nuances, Arizona included. She recommends the following benefits for early Members. These are early days, and we don’t know whether and how we will create a cohousing community here, but it is the intention of all current Members to implement these benefits for early Members:
1. The Date of Membership will determine priority in unit selection in the eventual development.
a. If you initially join as an Explorer and then move to Member status in a timely manner, the date you join as an Explorer will be your Date of Membership.
b. If your Explorer status lapses without an extension, then the date of your acceptance as a Member will become your Date of Membership.
c. If you have decided you wish to become a Member without having been an Explorer, then the date of your acceptance as a Member will be your Date of Membership.
2. Early membership incentive: If the effort is successful, early Members who acquire a unit will receive a credit of $4,000 (double the $2,000 membership fee) as a credit toward the purchase price of their unit.
3. More generally, early commitment will earn discounts on your home price, depending on when and how much you invest in the LLC. Our intention is that when we purchase our finished homes in the community at the end of construction, we can credit our individual investments toward our down payments, and take the discounts earned for that investment off our purchase prices.
4. As noted above, if the effort to create cohousing does not succeed, no Member should expect to receive any refund or other benefit for their payment to become a Member. However, if the project is abandoned, Flagstaff Cohousing will make a good faith effort to prorate refunds from funds that remain unexpended after all expenses are paid.
5. Further, if the cohousing effort is successful but you are not able to participate for any reason including your personal choice, inability to qualify for a loan, or life changes, then Flagstaff Cohousing will make a good faith effort to return your $2,000 membership payment and any additional subsequent payments within 3 years of completion of the Flagstaff Cohousing project. However, the success of the vision and the future solvency of Flagstaff Creative Cohousing, LLC are completely unknown, so please do not risk any money you are not prepared to lose.
Taking Steps to Membership
If you've decided you want to become a member of Flagstaff Cohousing, here's how to do it:
1. Submit a Formal Application for Membership
Once you have completed the steps above, and you have decided you wish to become a Member of Flagstaff Creative Cohousing, LLC, we invite you to submit a formal application for membership. Please do the following:
- Fill out the Membership application form online here.
- Authorize a criminal background check. Send us your authorization form for the criminal background check which is required for all Members. We assure you that all information you submit and that we receive will be held in confidence. [We'll have an authorization form on the website soon!]
2. Attend a Meeting of Understanding.
This meeting brings the adult members of your household together with several members of our community. It’s a chance for you to clarify your expectations about living in the community, discuss community decisions that have been made to date, and talk about the talents and interests you bring to the group. It’s also a time to review the current and anticipated work of Members, and an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have. We ask that each adult in your household consider these questions prior to the meeting. The Meeting of Understanding page is available here.
3. Formal Consideration for Membership.
The Members of Flagstaff Cohousing will review your application and will come to consensus on your household joining the community. This will take place at the next meeting of Members.
Membership selection will be based on three elements:
· Commitment to participating in the cohousing community in Flagstaff;
· Ability to afford the purchase and maintenance of a condominium in an eventual cohousing project; and
· Consensus of the existing Members.
Financial qualification can be demonstrated in any one of several ways, including:
· a letter of pre-qualification from a mortgage broker. We can supply names or you can use your own. A sample form is available here.
· a letter from your bank or financial institution confirming resources
· submission of a financial statement to a select subcommittee of our members.
All financial information submitted will be reviewed by the Financial Committee and will be held in confidence.
While Flagstaff Cohousing is not a developer, our goal is to catalyze the creation of a diverse community in every sense, and to meet and exceed the federal Fair Housing guidelines that would be applicable to a housing developer.
4. Submit Your Membership Fee.
Once you’ve been accepted as a Member, the membership fee of $2,000 is due.
Please make your check payable to Flagstaff Cohousing and mail it to:
22 West Birch
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate your interest and look forward to connecting with you.