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1. The first thing you must do is to attend a Cohousing Information Seminar. The seminar will serve two purposes for you. Firstly, you will get a realistic image of cohousing, what it delivers and what pitfalls to avoid. After this, you will be able to make an informed choice whether the cohousing concept is for you, whether the commitment (financial, time, energy) is what you are looking for. Secondly, you will gain an overview of the Merri Cohousing project, and its current progress.
Click here to find out dates of the next few Information Seminars.
Initially, we ask people to have their questions answered at Info Seminars or via letters, emails or faxes, rather than to telephone individuals in the group. There have been hundreds of inquiries about Merri Cohousing, and as the members have full personal and family lives and work and community commitments, we are unable to cope with verbal inquiries outside Info Seminars, or ensure that you will be given consistent or appropriate information.
You are welcome to attend more than one Information Seminar, and many people do.
2. At the Information Seminar you can get our Introduction Kit, also available from this website. The kit contains much important information and will guide you into the process of becoming more involved. We charge $1 for printed kits, to cover printing costs.
3. If being part of our group sounds like the thing for you, you can register your interest by filling in an Expression of Interest form. You can pick up a form at the information session or download directly from this website. Please attend at least one information session before completing the Expression of Interest.
4. Once you give us your Expression of Interest form, an 'active' resident will become your 'Contact Person' to help you get up-to-speed with the rest of the group, so that you'll be able to participate in the processes of designing and setting up Merri Cohousing.
5. Your Contact Person will invite you to the 'active residents' Committee meetings, presently held on Wednesday evenings at an active resident's home.
Initially you will only be able to attend as an observer, as the pace and workload of these meetings does not allow for time to answer the questions of new participants. However we have found that, with the help of your Contact Person, it takes new people only a few weeks before they are able to participate in the meetings in a satisfying way. Even if you are unable to attend the Committee meetings regularly, it is important that you try to attend some of these meetings, as they give you an idea of the scope and kind of work that the active residents are doing to get the cohousing to happen.
6. You should make an effort to attend weekend workshops and the social gatherings which follow them. These workshops are for all the members of Merri Cohousing to work on a single issue, such as the choice of environmental features, or the location of the Common House, or the requirements for the shared open space, or an aspect of how the cohousing will be managed when it is built. These workshops are properly facilitated to allow for the full participation of all of those present. They are followed by a social gathering or lunch, where you can get to know your future neighbours.
7. Outside meetings and workshops, you should be sharing in some of the work of the group, and preparing yourself so that you are able to add your own contributions into the decision-making and design work. Things you can do include:
8. When you feel that you have a good understanding of the reasoning behind our Design Brief, you should complete our Design and Location Questionnaire. This will give you concrete data for you to input into our design workshops, and into our cost estimates, specifications and plans for the site and built environment.
9. After attending a few meetings, and if you feel ready, you can ask your Contact Person to arrange for your email address to be added to the MerriCoho-active mailing list. Outside meetings, most of the internal communications and all of the draft documents of the group are exchanged on this list.
10. After being involved like this for a month or two, you will probably have met the criteria for being a resident of Merri Cohousing. If you have qualified as a resident, and you have decided that you definitely want to be a resident of Merri Cohousing, you should now be counted as an 'active' member of the group. As an 'active' member you will be placed on the waiting list to be offered a place in Merri Cohousing.
At least one member of each household must qualify as a resident for the household to qualify. After qualifying, at least one member of each household must remain 'active' in the group for periods long enough to maintain continuity with the group.
11. We anticipate that intending buyers who have qualified as residents will be required to contribute equity into the project to maintain their place as a Qualified Resident.
The nature of this equity contribution has not been decided yet, but we do know that most other cohousing groups require 'Equity Members' to contribute something like $1000 per month or make a number of $5000 periodic payments over a longer period. If you haven't been sent it already, please ask for a draft of our discussion paper on Equity Residentship.
The group has not yet decided whether Qualified Residents who are intending renters rather than buyers will be required to make any kind of financial or other commitment to maintain their status.
Merri Cohousing is an incorporated nonprofit association, and it is therefore necessary that those responsible for decision making within the group be paid-up financial members.
Annual subscription rates are as follows:
You can join as a financial member at any time by completing an Application for Membership form (also available at meetings). The Supporting membership category is intended for people who do not intend living in cohousing but wish to support the project and be kept informed; however, members may upgrade from Supporting to Full (or Concession) membership at any time. You must take out Full or Concession membership before becoming an Active Resident; however, Full or Concession membership does not automatically confer Active Residentship.
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Merri Cohousing: PO Box 355M, Clifton Hill, Vic 3068. —
Info line: (03) 9482 1239 — Fax: (03) 9381 1844.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org — Web: <http://www.merricohousing.org/>
Maintained by Tony Morton and Adam Tiller — email@example.com — Last updated: 8 July 2002