Chips from the Board, December 1997
The board has seen some changes in the last month including the resignation of our vice president, Karen Hawley. Karen felt that some off time would give her some relief from her extremely busy schedule. Her stepping down meant that there was a need for a new vice president, participation liaison and staff liaison. The vice president position was accepted by Horst Moll, the Participation Liaison taken by myself, and the staff liaison by Jennifer Freeman.

Steve Leonhard, a recent member at Voisins, has offered to fill in the gap on the board. Steve has attended many board meetings since he moved into Voisins as well as attending some other committee meetings. His interest in out coop community indicates to me that he will make a great interim board member, and I hope he will consider running for a more permanent position at the next board election.

The joint board / participation meeting mentioned by Horst in the last newsletter enabled those that attended to get a feeling for some of the issues involved in participation and community building within our coop. The most important thing for all of us to remember is that there are no quick fixes : if there were, then every coop in existence that has some level of participation problems would have them solved.

Another important thing to remember is why we need participation at all. The focus is often on the tasks themselves, and how if we all chip in that our housing charges will not need to be increased due to needing to hire outside help. While this is a factor, the more important aspect of participation is the feeling of group accomplishment and community building that it can bring us. What differentiates a Housing Coop from other non-profit housing or apartments it not so much the cost of the rent or housing charges for the units, but the feeling of belonging that one can have when they are active in the coop community. I know that I have had a much stronger sense of belonging in this coop due to my own activities and involvement here, and am looking forward to meeting more members as my time here goes on.

This last month was also a month of learning for many board members. I, and a number of other board members attended some workshops put on by the Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario (CHASEO) including "Board Basics" and later "Advanced Board Management" which was attended by over half our board. If you are interested in training on issues relating to board management, co-op finances, or dealing with Conflict or racism, you may be interested in attending one of the CHASEO workshops.

I hope that you all have a great time during the holiday season and hope I will be meeting more of you soon. I will leave you with the 7 coop principles which was a large part of the discussions at the training sessions, and hope that everyone will read them and see how they fit with their own understanding of their membership at Coop Voisins. I would love to discuss things of this nature with other members - please just give me a call and we can chat.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community Russell McOrmond, Ring #81.