Cohousing in Covid
Guest Post by Claire
Since February, the Bull City Commons community has met in-person for Taco Tuesdays and pot-lucks, social hours, circle meetings, and yard work, and all of the wonderful get-togethers that co-housing fosters.
Since we're now around each other so much, the question naturally arose: is it time to go back to in-person Plenary meetings? That question was not as easy to answer as you'd think.
Covid appeared at a vulnerable time in BCC's development. Starting in March 2020, technology provided the means for continued connection, community building, and decision-making. Technology even made it possible to sell the last units to out-of-state folks who participated with us via Zoom calls, and who were eager and excited to join BCC.
Vaccines became available, we began moving into our brand new building in February 2022, and we slowly adjusted to the idea of being around one another. Those few who got Covid (or suspected they might have it) kept the community posted on their progress, and followed precautions regarding masking and staying indoors.
Fast forward six months. Covid is clearly not going away. And some members recalled with fondness the spirit and energy of the pre-Covid Plenary meetings, which were preceded by epic pot-luck meals and time to simply chat and catch up with each other.
So, in the best Sociocratic fashion, a proposal was brought to Plenary to resume in-person meetings in 2023. Consent was not sought at this juncture, but ample time was allotted for question and reaction rounds.
The only questions concerned how we would accommodate guests at our meeting. One of the requirements to join our Interested Buyer list is to attend a Plenary and see Sociocracy in action at BCC. We typically have one to three guests on our Zoom Plenary calls, occasionally more, and these guests are almost always out-of-state. Some have come to learn about us, and we have had folks from other coho’s who wanted to observe our process.
As we went around the “room” for people’s reactions, something wonderful unfolded. Some members said they were ready to go back to meeting in person, feeling that the meetings had a different quality when we were physically present to one another. Other people expressed concerns about how our guests would connect with us without expensive technology for hybrid in-person/digital meetings. A number of people shared their discomfort with being in large gatherings given the myriad Covid variants.
People were open, honest, and vulnerable. And the outcome was clear: it was not time--and might never be time--to go back to in-person meetings.
We always conclude our Plenary meetings with a closing round where people reflect on how the meeting went. During the closing round, it was clear that the Covid discussion had been powerful and moving. The conversation was respectful. People listened to one another and brought open minds. Several commented that their thinking changed as they listened to others share their thoughts and feelings. It was a wonderful example of the power of Sociocratic rounds where every single person in the community has a voice--a voice that stands freely without having to defend itself.
While some are still missing the good old days, our Zoom meetings are getting the job done, and everyone understands why--for now--this is the way we need to go.