How We Work

Aside from twice-a-week potluck dinners and many other social activities, one of the key ways that we experience and build community at Silver Sage Village is through our five standing teams. Typically these teams meet once a month, and members carry out tasks for the team on their own schedule between meetings. Every community member is expected to participate in at least one (but no more than two) of these teams:

animalsCommunity Enhancement Team plans regular activities of all kinds for us to enjoy and to deepen our relationships with one another. They also plan retreats every two years to keep our community strong and healthy.
bluebootsonstickGardens and Grounds Team manages the landscaping and maintenance of our beautiful outside common space, enjoying the flower and vegetable gardening and managing outside contractors for the big jobs.
toiletpaperrollCommon House Team cares for and beautifies our Common House, handles reservations for its use by inside and outside groups, and manages our outside cleaning people.
handydogSystems and Buildings keeps our infrastructure in good shape by doing the odd jobs they enjoy and hiring outside people for the more challenging jobs, from painting our buildings to managing our boiler or elevator and seal-coating our private alleyway.
scroogeFinance and Legal manages the annual budget process of the teams and the community. They also manage ongoing expenditures and investments, reserve funds that prevent unexpected assessments, taxes, etc. They keep us well-informed on financial issues and manage our legal needs.

steering1Steering Team serves as our legal Board, made up of representatives from each of our standing teams and one at-large member. In addition, ad-hoc teams are sometimes formed for special or one-time activities, like creating this website. They also report to the Steering Team as needed.

Decision Making

Like many cohousing communities, we make significant, community-wide decisions by consensus. This is quite different from our culture’s approach of voting, in which the majority rules. Voting has the disadvantage, especially in a small community like ours, that members in a minority position can find they have difficulty getting their needs met.

Our consensus approach has worked well for us. You might wonder how we get twenty-four people to agree on anything. When an issue is brought up, we discuss it first, with every member present or by proxy expressing their opinion. After full discussion, the facilitator takes an informal straw poll to see if all members support the proposal. If so, it is approved. If not all support, we will explore what is necessary, including modifications, to reach consensus. If it then seems that we might have consensus, we will ask each household for their stand. There are three options: to support the proposal, to stand aside (meaning that the family doesn’t actively support the proposal, but does not wish to block it), or block, which means they believe the proposal will cause significant harm to the community.  If there is a block, which occurs very rarely, the proposal does not go forward until the issues are resolved.