New Member Policy
The membership process at Common Ground is not particularly difficult, but it is quite extensive and time consuming. It requires some concentrated study, some extended interactions, and some deliberate introspection. Becoming a full member will take 6 months to 21 months from the time you apply for provisional membership.
Our policy allows for flexibility to meet the scheduling needs of both you and our members. Our Visitor/Membership (V/M) Committee, which will provide ongoing help and guidance, will meet with you to learn of your aims and the amount of time you think you’ll be able to devote to the process. After you apply for provisional membership you should live preferably at or at least near Common Ground to facilitate participation in community activities and to expedite this membership process.
There are three parts to our process
- Visiting and Learning about Common Ground
- Applying for and Becoming a Provisional Member
- Applying for and Becoming a Full Member
Part I. Visiting and Learning about Common Ground.
In this part you visit us, learn about our membership process and, if interested in applying for provisional membership, review our legal documents.
You should visit Common Ground several times. Before you seek to enter the provisional membership process please give yourself ample opportunity to consider what living in community entails. We have a list of questions to which you will want to give thoughtful consideration.
If you decide you may be interested in provisional membership you then contact the Clerk of our Visitor/Membership (V/M) Committee. The V/M Committee will review our entire membership process with you and provide you with copies of our legal documents including our By-Laws, our Land Lease Agreement with the School of Living, and our Personal Homestead Area Agreement.
Understanding our legal documents is of key importance because anyone who ultimately becomes a member of Common Ground signs an agreement to live by and uphold these documents. After you have studied the documents, a member of Common Ground appointed by our V/M Committee will review them with you. This formal review of the legal documents can take up to 20 hours. This should be done by the end of your second extended visit (see Visitor Policy).
Part II. Provisional Membership
A. Applying for Provisional Membership.
In this part you apply for provisional membership; we make an agreement with you on how long this part of the process will take; you will have scheduled interviews with each member. Having spent time visiting us, cogitating on the self-evaluation questions provided to you, and feeling you understand, agree with and can uphold our legal documents, you then sign the Application for Provisional Membership.
The V/M Committee will work out a time-table agreement with you, including the scheduling of at least two and up to seven interview sessions with each Common Ground member. These sessions will last approximately 2 hours. We will agree to a target date by which the interviews will be completed, and a target date for provisional membership.
The suggested topics for these scheduled interviews include sharing visions of community and of Common Ground, personal histories, spiritual journeys, ecological interests and concerns, and so forth.
During this period of time you will also be expected to become familiar with our financial records and minutes of Common Ground’s monthly membership meetings.
You will be meeting with the V/M Committee every two weeks to discuss how the process is proceeding for you and to resolve any problems. After 3 months, and every 3 months thereafter, there will also be a closed meeting for community members to discuss progress.
B. Becoming a Provisional Member.
In this part the community members make a decision on your provisional membership and if accepted, a target date for full membership is set. After you have finished the interviews with each member and are familiar with our written records and policies, Common Ground will schedule a meeting to discuss your provisional membership. This meeting could be held sooner than the agreed upon target date if all previous process steps have been completed (see final section, “Points of Recognition”). This may be a closed meeting where the membership will share with each other their experiences and insights, and to discuss whether to accept you into provisional membership. The decision to accept will be made by consensus, as per our bylaws, in an open meeting. At this meeting we will agree to a target date for full membership.
Provisional members have full participatory rights at meetings, but without the right to block consensus or to vote.
Part III. Full Membership.
A. Applying for Full Membership.
In this part we focus on informal interactivity; you apply for full membership. During this final part you will still be meeting with the V/M Committee every two weeks, and with the entire community every 3 months to discuss progress and to resolve any problems.
We encourage you to participate in as many informal interactive sessions and experiences as can be worked into the time period we have agreed to. These include a number of invitations for informal meals at each residence, meetings, spiritual happenings, social events, work days, and playtimes.
We also encourage you to spend time exploring, experiencing and connecting with Common Ground land and with the larger community in a personal way.
When the agreed upon time period is up and you have decided you want to become a permanent resident member of Common Ground, you may sign our membership statement and the Application for Full Membership. This goes to the Secretary of Common Ground.
B. Becoming a Full Member.
In this part you may become a full member.
A special open meeting of the members will be scheduled to decide whether or not to accept your request for full membership.
Full membership at Common Ground entitles you to all the rights and responsibilities of membership, including a Personal Homestead Area Agreement for the purpose of residence at Common Ground.
Part IV. MODIFICATION OF TIME-TABLE BY POINTS OF RECOGNITION, AND WITHDRAWAL FROM PROCESS
The agreed upon target dates for provisional membership and/or full membership may be changed by points of recognition or withdrawal.
A. Positive Point of Recognition
A positive point of recognition is the point in time when a current member feels confident that you will become a valued provisional member or full member of Common Ground. When 3/4 of the membership of Common Ground have given the V/M Clerk a written point of recognition and when all steps of the process have been completed, the community may schedule your provisional membership or full membership meeting sooner than the agreed target dates.
B. Negative Point of Recognition.
If the V/M Clerk receives a written negative point of recognition statement showing opposition for your provisional membership or full membership, the V/M committee will hold a closed meeting to evaluate the matter and if needed will call a special closed membership meeting to determine if any action is needed.
Common Ground reserves the right to discontinue the membership process at any time by consensus at an open membership meeting. You may withdraw from this process at any time by giving a written statement of withdrawal to the Secretary of Common Ground.
If you decide to withdraw or the process is discontinued by the community, we will hold a “clearness session” before you leave so we will all understand what happened.
This policy was adopted: June 4, 1997