from the Commune Life tumblr account
Membership processes are often in flux. Below is the membership process document for East Brook Community Farm, as of February 2019
Below is an outline of the process which begins with you not being a member and ends with you being an income sharing member.
Step 1: Introductions
- You learn about East Brook, and then ask to come visit for a short period of time (can be a day, a week, or a month).
- You come visit for this short period.
- You leave.
Step 2: Formal request to begin the membership process
You write a letter to East Brook asking to live with us for a long but finite amount of time (between 6 months and 1 year), as a residential member.
This letter should describe why you want to live here and what kinds of things you want to do with us.
We respond. Possible responses include:
- Yes! Lets live together for that amount of time!
- We need more info! We are interested in what it would be like to live with you, but don’t know you well enough yet to commit to a multi-month stay. Why don’t you come back for a few weeks or a month and we’ll get to know each other better?
- No! We don’t think East Brook and you are a good match right now.
Step 3: Roles and Goals
After your residential membership request has been accepted, you write up a roles and goals document. This should happen either before you move in or within the first month of living together.
- This document outlines the roles you see yourself playing in the community during your residential membership period, and describes the goals you have in those roles by the end of the period.
- Your roles and goals arrangement may include a stipend for you, or it might not. Either way, at this stage, while we live together, we make most decisions together but you do not share income or make long term financial decisions with us.
Once the roles and goals document is written, we have a meeting to talk about it. Changes to the document might be suggested, and consensus is reached. General excitement is had. We live with you now! We will definitely live with you until your residential membership period finishes!
We schedule your membership check-in meeting, which will happen about ⅔ of the way into your residential membership period.
Step 4: The Membership Check-in meeting
Near the end of your residential membership period, we schedule this meeting to review how your time here has been, and what the future might look like.
If you want to continue living here, you bring a revised copy of your Roles and Goals document to the meeting, and we discuss what it would be like to live with you as an income-sharing member for the upcoming year
You may decide to remain a residential member of East Brook and not move forward into income sharing with us.
This meeting should be celebratory, not judgmental. We appreciate our time together and collectively imagine a path forward.
Step 5: Income-sharing membership consensus
The current income-sharing members meet without you and reach consensus about if we want to live with you and share income with you.
This meeting may happen before Step 4 in some circumstances.
Possible decisions include:
- Yes! Lets live together for another year and share all our income!
- We need more info! We are interested in what it would be like to live with you more intimately, and share our incomes together, but some concerns have come up during your time here and we need more experience living together before we explore the income-sharing path. Let’s revise your roles and goals to fit the next 6 months, and then after that we’ll check in again and re-explore income-sharing membership.
- No! After living with you for the last several months, we’ve decided that it is not best for the community to continue to live together. We ask that you find somewhere else to live after your residential membership period is complete.
Step 6: Income Sharing
Once we have reached consensus on income-sharing membership, the details of the income-sharing agreement need to be worked out.
Income-sharing agreements at East Brook are modular, and tailored to the needs and resources of each individual. Our income-sharing agreements have four parts:
- Financial disclosure – this part describes your savings, material possessions, and expected income over the next year.
- An explicit agreement that all the money you make in the next year will be shared with East Brook, and all expenses you might incur in the next year will be paid by East Brook.
- A budget – This part details how the money you earn will be allocated by East Brook, and how East Brook will meet your needs.
- An exit agreement – some amount of your income is allocated towards exit savings, so that you have resources should you choose to leave. We make arrangements for cars and other material possessions to facilitate amicable leaving.
Once this agreement is made, next we take actions to implement it. Actions might include:
- You get access to East Brook bank accounts (either by being added to the account or getting a credit card which East Brook commits to paying)
- Any paychecks you receive from outside income are designated to be deposited into East Brook accounts.
- Any regular bills you have are designated to autopay from East Brook accounts.
Once income sharing is implemented, you are now an income-sharing member for the next year.
Step 7: Following Up
Income sharing members are members “indefinitely” but their membership is subject to regular conversation and exploration with the other members.
One year after you become an income-sharing member, we all meet and once again review and revise your roles and goals document.
- This is a time to reassess your experience in community. Is it living up to your expectations? Are there things about your life or your relationships which you would like to work to change? How can we improve things? Might it be time to leave soon? Do you want to change your roles? Did you achieve the goals you set? What new things would you like to accomplish in the next year? How can you be supported in personal growth?
Unlike the first check-in meeting, there is no follow-up meeting after this one where all members besides you are present. (Unless someone wishes to trigger our expulsion process, which should almost never happen). However, this meeting is a time for everyone to seriously consider how our lives are affected by living together, and to explore all options available to us to continue to support each other and the community we live in. The meeting should encourage discussion of radical changes to our roles and relationships, if they are needed. (Default is you continue to live here, this is just a chance to explore your options and figure out if your life is on a path you truly want blah blah blah etc.)
The meeting concludes with consensus on your updated roles and goals document. Then we schedule your next check-in meeting for a year or two from now. This process repeats indefinitely.