by Raven Cotyledon

Here’s an issue that’s a little closer to home. This blog is about income-sharing and income-sharing requires trust.

I think that trust is the main reason most people don’t do income-sharing. It’s hard to share your hard earned money with someone who you don’t trust, and many people don’t see how they could trust a bunch of people with their money. Although it isn’t that difficult for some folks when they join one of the larger and older and well managed communes, if you are offered the opportunity to join a new and small community, it can be scary to think about sharing your cash with folks that you barely know.

So the question is, how is trust built?

My stock answer is time. I don’t think that there is an instant way to build trust. There are ways to speed up the process (and I will talk about them shortly), but it will never happen overnight.


DNA and gil and I spent two and a half years talking and getting to know each other before we started living together at Cotyledon and sharing income. At the community I helped create in Cambridge in the 1990s, Susan and Robert and I moved in together after a year of discussion but it was at least another year of discussion before we began income-sharing.

My understanding is that Transparency Tools were devised as a way for people to get to know each other quicker and on a deeper level, and thus speed up the trust building process. It can work, but it isn’t a substitute for working together, talking together, and just spending time together. That’s what really builds trust.

Unfortunately, if trust is betrayed, it becomes a hundred times harder to rebuild it. Often, the simplest solution when a community member betrays trust is to ask them to leave. For those who choose to stay and work it out, the process can take years and be fragile even then.


While I was writing this, I received the newest issue of Communities magazine, which was focused on Sexual Politics. I saw this quote, which was about sexual misconduct but, unfortunately, I think also applies to financial misconduct: “…those who violate people most often build a base level of trust, and then violate that trust with intention. That’s a difficult reality for many people to grasp, especially those who want to only see the good in people.” (Amanda Rain, “Community Accountability”, Issue #183) Unfortunately, I know of communities that trusted one person with all the finances until the person was caught. Trust is very important, but I think any community needs to have at least two, uninvolved people watching the books.

My feeling is that income-sharing is an amazing tool that can liberate people to live the way that they want and directly challenges the corporate capitalist system. There are a lot of wonderful things about it, but it does require trust, and trust takes time.


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