Getting along with each other

Some agreements & policies that help us get along with each other:

Conflict Resolution

Mosaic Commons intends to be a safe nurturing place for all of us, children and adults, to grow, both individually and as a group. To this end, we agree to the following: We will make a good-faith effort to deal with conflicts that may arise. With the help of Community Support (CS) we will do our best to distinguish between individual conflicts and issues of concern for the group as a whole. Individual conflicts will be handled through this Conflict Resolution process.

Members may choose to handle conflicts directly themselves or to enlist the help of CS. If a conflict is brought to CS by any member, all members directly involved in the conflict agree to make a good-faith effort (see step 7) to follow this process through to resolution. This will typically include meeting with the other person/s to attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.

Resolution(s) to conflicts may take many forms, including an "agreement to disagree" in some cases.

The following is a guide for members of the Mosaic Commons community to understand and be aware of the process to expect when asking for help from the Community Support Team:

  1. You are encouraged to attempt to resolve the conflict by yourself, if you can.
  2. If the conflict is unresolved, or you don’t feel you are able to approach the other party or parties by yourself, you may approach a member of the CS Team in whatever way you feel most comfortable (individual email, email to the team, in person, or over the phone).
  3. A CS team member of your choosing will meet with you to talk about and help define the conflict that you are having. This may include identifying the specific situation(s) in which the conflict came up and feelings around that. The CS Team member will offer you tools to resolve the conflict yourself, or offer the option of conflict mediation through the team. Please be aware that because CS Team members support and provide guidance to one another, we reserve the right to confidentially discuss the issue with other team members, with the exception of any team member who is involved in the conflict, and determine who we think will be the most appropriate mediator(s); this may not be the member(s) initially approached.
  4. By coming to the CS Team with your concern, you are agreeing to fully participate in resolving the conflict in a timely manner (see below). If you choose to take the tools back and work on the conflict and are unsuccessful in your own or CS's determination, or you they choose to bring it to mediation immediately then we move on to step 5.
  5. Set a time to meet. The CS team will take responsibility for bringing all parties up to date and coordinating a time that suits all involved parties to meet for mediation. This should take place as soon as possible, ideally within 4 weeks (exceptions can be made for special circumstances such as illness or travel). The actual CS team member or members who facilitate in mediating the conflict must be mutually agreed to by all parties. The team will discuss and resolve any conflicts of interest in this choice. If a CS team member can’t be agreed upon by both parties another community member or outside person may be approached who is willing to mediate.
  6. If resolution (which may include agreeing to disagree) is not reached through the first mediation facilitated by CS, members directly involved in the conflict agree to engage in a second mediation attempt, either with new mediators from within our group or through obtaining the services of an outside consultant.
  7. Members agree to make two good-faith efforts with different mediators before determining that not all conflicts can be resolved. An attempt or effort at resolution with one mediator is not necessarily limited to one meeting. If either party during a meeting feels they are at a place where they have reached their limit at that time, that party may request to continue the conversation at a future time and date agreed to by all parties involved.
  8. Individuals involved in this process are encouraged to find a way to acknowledge the conflict to the larger group. Often the community is already aware that something is going on — acknowledging it, as well as acknowledging that it is in the process of mediation (or has been resolved), is reassuring to the other people in the group.

Gun Policy

Mosaic Commons expects that members who choose to keep guns will be properly licensed and will comply with all state and federal laws applicable to possession and storage of firearms and ammunition. Those wishing further information on gun laws may consult the “Federal Gun Laws” and “State Gun Laws” sections of the National Rifle Association’s website. The current link for Massachusetts is http://www.nraila.org/GunLaws/StateLaws.aspx?ST=MA.

Safe Storage

Massachusetts state law currently requires that a gun which is not in use be "secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user." (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, §131L(a)). Though this provision technically allows for the use of trigger or cable locks for gun storage, Mosaic Commons members who choose to keep firearms agree to take personal responsibility for securing any guns and ammunition in locked containers or, ideally, in a gun safe. Anyone who has any questions or concerns about this agreement should discuss the matter directly with the Community Support Team.

Common Spaces

Firearms are not permitted in common spaces unless unloaded, secured in a locked case, and under the direct control of their owner. Firearms are not permitted inside the Common House at any time.

Individuals who are required to carry a firearm as part of their professional responsibilities are exempt from the above common space restrictions during times when they are required to be armed. They are nonetheless required to keep any firearm they carry under their direct control at all times.

Disclosure

In recognition of the potential emotional intensity of this topic and the need for effective communication within the community, firearms owners are expected to be forthright about their ownership and storage provisions. Those individuals with concerns or questions they wish to raise with members who own firearms are likewise expected to be forthright and respectful in their communications.

Members who wish to keep firearms in Mosaic Commons agree to disclose this fact to the community and to explain their storage provisions prior to storing firearms on site. Disclosure is to occur at a regularly scheduled general meeting, however no list or other designation of which members keep firearms will be maintained as part of the records of Mosaic Commons. This disclosure is meant to accommodate legitimate community needs for information and assurances.

For More Information

Those interested in learning more about firearms safety are encouraged to contact our local police department for more information on nearby firearms safety courses. If there is sufficient interest, the community's gun owners will arrange for safety training to be held on-site.

Noise / Quiet Hours

Quiet Hours Best Practices Agreeement

The intent of this agreed upon best-practice is to balance the needs of residents who need morning quiet with those who need evening quiet, and to balance people's ability to do community work, and have fun events, with other resident's needs for quiet.

Mosaic Commons Quiet hours start at 9pm Sunday to Thursday nights and start at 10pm Friday and Saturday nights. They go until 8am Monday to Friday mornings and until 9am Saturday and Sunday mornings.

During that time residents are asked to avoid disturbing their neighbors and to help their guests to do the same.

Examples: Quiet hours do not preclude enjoying porches or back yards with visiting friends, or walking through the neighborhood having a conversation at normal volume. They do preclude loud play, loud laughter, loud music, and motorized equipment where other residents will be disturbed. During quiet hours avoid clunky items in dryers, turn off the beeps on washers and dryers, and pay attention to how noise carries from the hot tub, basketball court, playground, and adventure playground.

Quiet hours do not apply to emergency personnel, snow removal, or emergency mechanical fixes.

Contractors arranged by Mosaic on an occasional basis may start work at 7AM but are asked to start their work as far from homes as possible. The person arranging the contractor should, as much as possible, notify the community in advance of any work that will disturb quiet hours.

Events arranged by Mosaic residents and members on an occasional basis may move the quiet hours until midnight but must notify the community in advance of the event.

Even when quiet hours are not in effect people should show consideration when asked to be quiet. For example:
-Please honor requests from hobby room guests for additional morning or night-time quiet time in the living room and/or laundry room.
-Please honor requests for additional morning or night-time quiet time from people in homes near the hot tub, playground, adventure playground, basketball court, and other places noise might carry to people sleeping.

Noise

During construction, we made every reasonable attempt to minimize the negative impact of noise through engineering and design, paying particular attention to noise abatement in the common house dining room and laundry room, and sound insulation between attached units.

Through courtesy and communication we anticipate most other noise problems will be avoided. Community Support can be utilized to help work through any conflicts or difficulties around noise that may arise.

Pet Policy

Residents are responsible for ensuring that their animals do not disrupt other members of the community by inappropriate aggression, property destruction, or noise. Residents should take the nature of the community into consideration when selecting pets.

Indoor Pets:

There are no restrictions on pets within private units, provided their noise does not cause a disturbance to others. Should indoor pets accidentally get out, the outdoor rules are then applicable to these pets and their owners.

Outdoor Pets:

  1. Cats:
  2. We prefer that all cats be kept indoors or in designated enclosures. At initial move-in, members who already have outdoor cats may continue to keep them outdoors. Members are asked to bring these cats indoors at night as much as possible since nighttime is when cats hunt the most. After initial move-in, all new cats added to the community will be kept indoors. Those who feel strongly about outdoor cats may seek an exception for up to 2 cats.

  3. Dogs:
  4. Out of consideration for the safety and comfort of all community members, dogs should either be on a leash, in a fenced-in area, in a community dog run area, or under the direct control and supervision of their owners at all times. (Note - A community dog run will not be built prior to move-in) Dog owners are expected to "scoop as they go" when walking their dogs.

  5. Other animals held as outdoor pets:
  6. If other outdoor animals (such as pigs, goats, etc.) are allowed by the laws applicable to our site, these pets will either be on a leash or in a fenced-in area at all times.

    Members who wish to keep livestock should raise that issue with the community as an exception to this policy.

  7. Neutering:
  8. We recognize that there is a pet overpopulation problem in this country due to accidental breeding of pets, particularly cats. Therefore, it is required that outdoor cats be spayed or neutered prior to move-in and strongly recommended that both indoor cats and all dogs be spayed or neutered prior to move-in.

  9. Damage and mess:

Outdoor pet owners are jointly responsible for cleaning up after their outdoor pets. The playground sandbox shall be inspected and cleaned for pet excrement at least once daily.

Outdoor pet owners are jointly responsible for repairing or bearing the cost of any damage created by their outdoor pets except in cases where one animal has been clearly identified to have caused the damage.

Common house:

Service animals are welcome to accompany their owners into indoor common areas, such as the common house, but no other animals are permitted. All animals are prohibited from any basement storage areas that have been designated as animal-free.

Notes:

  1. Exceptions to this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Visiting pets are the responsibility of their hosts.

Smoking

Mosaic Commons intends to be hospitable and accommodating to people who smoke and those who do not. One important goal is to prevent second-hand smoke from affecting unwilling residents and guests. With this in mind, smoking is not allowed in any indoor common areas, such as the Common House or community-owned basement space under any circumstances.

Smoking outside is prohibited except in designated areas. All litter generated by smoking outside must be disposed of in proper receptacles.

All residents may smoke or permit smoking in their private unit and in the area immediately to the rear of their unit, but are expected to cooperatively respond to neighbors' concerns. Any unresolved complaints are to be taken to the community support team.

Email Etiquette Guidelines

Introduction

A cohousing community can only thrive if there is a strong basis in open communication, respect of widely varying viewpoints, and an accepting, clean method for making those views, ideas, and proposals accessible to everyone who wants to see them. Before the age of email, much of this communication happened in real time. Phone calls, meetings, and, when people couldn’t attend in person, newsletters and minutes mailed out.

In these modern times, email has become the most accessible method for communication for most people in the community, and certainly within Mosaic Commons, the most active. Messages can be drafted, sent to all members of the community, read, and replied to to everyone in a matter of seconds, allowing for very rapid exchanges of ideas.

Unfortunately, this great technology brings with it a host of problems… not technical per se, but patterns that come about primarily because of the technology. Call them Emergent Patterns if you will. The term used doesn’t matter, but the issues are very real.

This document is an open discussion of the pitfalls and challenges in using email as a widely accepted communication mechanism, and proposes guidelines to help mitigate the issues that come with the technology. For the purposes of discussion, we’re focusing on how email is used within Mosaic Commons, but the points here can apply to any community that uses mailing lists and private email for communication.

Mailing lists

There are two primary mailing lists the community uses for general communication. These are :

  • community@mosaic-commons.org - This list is the general mailing list that includes everyone in the community, including associates and non-resident members. As of 2016 Jan 13, there are 91 people on the community list.

  • off-topic@mosaic-commons.org - A second ‘informal’ list (sometimes called ‘MOT’ for Mosaic Off Topic) for discussion of subjects that are not ‘important’ for everyone in the community to read. The original intent was to cut down the amount of non-business mail on the community list, though this has only been partly successful. As of 2016 Jan 13, there are 51 people on the off-topic list

Other non-team specific lists:

  • people - the ‘people@sawyerhill.org’ list includes residents of Mosaic-Commons and Camelot. It is intended for messages that may be of interest to both communities. As of 2015 Jan 13, there are 104 people on the people list.

  • interest@sawyerhill.org - This list is used to communicate messages out to people who are not residents of Mosaic or Camelot, but are may be interested in attending events, hearing about units that are for sale, etc. As of 2015 Jan 13, there are 745 people on the interest list. This list has a small, strictly limited list of authorized senders.

In addition to the general lists, each team has its own mailing list, which is generally accepted to define the members on that team (occasionally someone will join a team mailing list to lurk and not be an active participant in the team. This is generally fine, as long as the user lets the team know they’re there specifically just to lurk). See appendices A and B for a summary of those.

Basic guidelines when using email

Given the large number of lists we work with, and the equally large numbers of people on those lists, it’s important to consider some basic guidelines when posting. Some of these thoughts are most relevant on large lists, but anytime you write mail, to an individual or to a list, consider some of the following points.

  1. Assume Good Intent - When writing a mail message using only written text, all nuance, body language, tone, and sentiment can be lost. It’s very easy for a recipient to see a message in a completely different tone than was intended by the originator. One of the basic tenets to work from is ‘Assume good intent’. It’s very rare someone will post something to be deliberately malicious or attacking. When reading mail, assume the author was trying to be helpful or contribute to the discussion. Certainly, there may be times when this is not the case - see below - but it’s a good idea that in the circumstance where you’ve received a message, and had a strong negative reaction, to sit back, consider the author’s intent to be basically benign, and read the message again.

  2. Consider How it will be Received - The same goes for composing messages. Know that your recipients (and if you’re sending to a list, that could be hundreds of people), are guaranteed not to be in the same exact mindset as you are. Make sure your message is clear and in context so the recipient can frame the message correctly.

    Example. Say someone has posted to a list that they just bought a new coat they’re proud of and have posted a picture.

    Example of a bad reply:
    “I wouldn’t have chosen that..”

    Example of a good reply:
    “I don’t think that’s a style that I would have chosen for myself, but go you!”

    Both responses are factually accurate and state your viewpoint, but the first one can be taken as dismissive and harsh, while the second states more accurately why you wouldn’t have chosen that coat, and gives a little bit of support.

  3. Is this relevant to the conversation? - When replying to a message, particularly on a mailing list where there’s an ongoing discussion about a certain topic (usually whatever the Subject is), make sure your message is still on-topic. If it isn’t, start a new thread. “The thread about coats made me think about going skiing this winter. Anyone want to go?”

    A note, though. Don’t just reply in the thread, manually edit the Subject line to be something else, and post a message. Some mail clients let you do this, but the new Subject will still be considered part of the old thread, and people who are not interested in the topic may not see your message as a change in topic. Start a new thread!

  4. Avoid ‘Me, too’ replies - Particularly on heavy volume mailing lists, it’s considered quite rude to reply to a posting with “me too” or “Yay!” or “LOL”. Remember each time you post a message, it’s going to potentially dozens of people, who will each have to process it, either by deleting it, reading it, or replying to it. Many people get thousands of mail messages a day, and these sorts of mail are intensely irritating. They do nothing to advance the topic being discussed.

  5. Answer off-list if possible - Unless an email to community is the start of a community discussion you should almost always reply off list. If someone posts a question and specifically asks ‘please reply off list’, honor their request and do not reply to the main list (an example is someone requesting referrals for pedicures - they put in their post “replies off list please” - Do not reply to the list with your review of a local pedicurist. If you would like to see what information the person gathers, send them private mail and ask them to either post a summary back to the list, or to the community Wiki, or ask them for whatever information they gather.

  6. Be concise, be direct, be clear - When considering posting to the community list in particular, take time to compose your message clearly and completely. Avoid multiple posts on the same topic, or multiple single line postings. Remember, each message is going to more than 90 people. Posting three times on the same topic in ten minutes means you’ve sent almost 240 mails.

  7. Take a break before you yell - This is a hard one, but may be the most important of all the guidelines. Conversations on the lists can get heated and direct. Emotions run high, and when there’s a lot of mail flying around, it’s easy to Reply and send without taking a moment to calm down. This is an excellent use of the ‘Save as Draft’ function in most mail clients. It’s okay to write really grumpy snipey email, but do yourself a favor, and before you send it, Save as Draft, and come back to it in half an hour, or a few hours, and re-read your message. Chances are, you’ll be calmer about the topic and can be more constructive in the discussion.

  1. Use clear, concise Subject Lines - Subject lines are the great insight into what a piece of email is about. By using well constructed and informative text, you can let your audience know whether the content might be relevant to them or not.

    Examples:
    Good:
    Subject: Free Printer available on #42 porch.
    Bad:
    Subject: Free!

  2. Dates are Relative - Sometimes in the moment, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is right there in your head with you. So a posting to a large list that says “I’m going to a movie tomorrow night, anyone want to join me?” may seem unambiguous in the moment, but to someone reading that message the next morning, there’s no easy way to determine what evening you’re talking about. Let alone the problem of what “This weekend” or ‘Next Thursday” means! So when possible, put a date on your message. “I’m going to the movie tomorrow night! (9/2 evening)...”

  1. Signatures - It’s common practice to add a bit of text to the bottom of your email, uniquely identifying yourself, perhaps giving some contact information, and while it’s generally accepted to add a pithy quote or some personal statement, signatures should be kept concise. In addition, there is a standard for signatures that allows them to be hidden in long threads. Putting a ‘-- ’ (that’s two dashes, and a blank space) on it’s own line before your signature tells mail clients that text after this is a signature, and does not need to be shown for every mail message in a thread.

    Example of a bad signature:

    This signature is far too long, does not have a leading separator, and is just plain cumbersome. Remember that a signature is attached to every message you send - is it important to send a link to your twitter account on every message?

    A better version of this signature might simply be::
    --
    John Smith - Top Design Firm - jsmith@johnsmith.com - 555-555-5555
    http://johnsmith.blog/

    Any more information someone needs can be found by clicking the link. In the good old days of the internet, a .signature more than 4-5 lines long was considered rude and inconsiderate. In modern day email, the best thing you can do is include a separator above your signature. In mail clients like Gmail, users can still click on the -- and see the signature, but in longer threads, the signature will be hidden.

Colors, Fonts, and HTML - Modern mail systems allow for embedded colors, fonts, and other fancy elements to mail. It’s important to remember that mail is a visual, text-based medium, and just as varying fonts in an advertisement or web page is jarring to the senses, adding colors and font changes to your mail can be as disruptive. While it’s tempting to make your mail ‘stand out’ by using special colors and fonts, it’s almost always a good idea to refrain, and use whatever text settings your client provides by default.