Difference between revisions of "Masala Membership Manual"

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== Labor System ==
 
== Labor System ==
Your co-op loves you and we hope you will love your co-op as well.  Caring for the house, cooking for your fellow co-opers and working with them to maintain a happy and healthy co-op can be its own reward, however, life goes on outside the house and the co-op cannot always be your top priority.  In order to guarantee an equal distribution of labor among co-opers and to prevent the house from deteriorating into a neglected pile of filth and despair, Masalans have constructed a labor system to structure each co-oper’s contribution to the house. It offers both stability & flexibility.
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The [[Masala Labor System]] has its own page.
 
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There are three kinds of regular labor within the house:
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# '''Food chores''' rotate on a bi-weekly schedule.  They include grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up after house meals, picking up food donations and our CSA share, etc.  Every two weeks each member is required to sign up for four food chores.
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# '''Household chores''' rotate on a monthly schedule.  At the first house meeting of the month the sign-up board is passed around and everyone signs up for one chore.  These are tasks that require some ongoing attention, like keeping the refrigerators clean and organized, mopping the kitchen, cleaning the first floor bathroom, etc.  They should be performed at least once a week.
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# '''Stewardships''' are semi-permanent responsibilities that require some specialized knowledge, skills, or continuity.  Everyone has at least one stewardship, and some people have more than one, because they require varying amounts of work.  Who gets what stewardships is agreed upon by consensus at house meeting.
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In addition to the regular labor describe above, the house will usually schedule one or two work days each year for deep cleaning, re-organization, garden preparation, etc.  There are also occasional special projects like setup before and cleanup after parties, or larger home improvements.
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=== Accountability ===
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We operate under an honor system. We cannot and don't want to hound everybody about everything.  If you're going to be away from the house for any period of time and thus unable to satisfy the labor requirements, it’s your responsibility to communicate with the labor steward and get out of your responsibility for that time period, or find a replacement. Our trash still needs to go out, the chickens still need food and water, even when you go out of town or have an exam coming up that you have to study extra-hard for! If you'll be absent for less than five days, you do not get out of your labor responsibility.  Failure to pull your weight will result in '''probation''' with the house, and after that we could discuss '''eviction'''. That's not nice — don't make the house face that yucky situation!  If you are on probation for failing to do labor in the house, you must make amends within the next two-week period. If you do not provide good cause acceptable to the house at the house meeting at the end of your probationary period, then '''the house will evict you from the co-op for violating your lease by failing to meet your labor obligations'''. You would need consensus from the house in order to stay.
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The primary labor accountability mechanism within the house is our weekly report.  Every week at the beginning of house meeting, each member lets the community know about the labor they have done for the house.  This is also the time to make any announcements or bring up any concerns related to your chores and stewardships.  If you anticipate more back-and-forth discussion, it's worth making it an agenda item for the regular portion of the meeting.
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In addition to our weekly reports, the [[#Labor Steward|Labor Steward]] keeps track of who is signing up for what, to make sure that labor is shared by all co-opers in an equitable way. The Labor Steward gives a monthly report in meeting, so we can see if we’re all on track, and will approach any house members who are doing too little or too much work.
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=== Food Chores ===
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Every two weeks at meeting we pass around a small dry-erase board, and co-opers sign up for four of the available 48 slots:
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* Cooking or Cleaning House Meals (40)
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* Saturday Food Shop (2)
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* Wednesday Food Shop (2)
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* Food Rescue/Staple Preparation (2)
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* Bread/CSA Pickup (1)
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* Bulk Food Pickup (1)
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The board is passed around twice, in opposite directions, so that all members have roughly equal priority in choosing which slots they get.  Each slot is equivalent to roughly 1.5 hours of work.  Detailed descriptions of what these chores entail can be found below in the [[Food]] section. Immediately after meeting the Labor Steward copies these signups to the big chore board which hangs on the wall in the kitchen near the back door of the house.
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=== Household Chores ===
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Most of the household chores must be thoroughly completed each week before house meeting.  Friday and Saturday Kitchen Clean must be completed on their respective days and Right Fridge Clean must be completed before Saturday Food Shop.  Detailed descriptions of the chores are listed below, and are posted on the Left Fridge for easy reference.  Members are responsible for household chores for one month at a time, with signups taking place at the first house meeting of each month.
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; Kitchen Organize
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: Remove items from food pantry, clean shelves,  re-shelve, organize and label bulk items.  Refill food items in the food pantry from bulk bags in basement.  Find a problem area and work to fix it up!  Think about the tops of the fridges, shelves, cabinets, under the sink, or the dining room area.
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; Living Room
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: Put anything that does not belong in the living room in its appropriate place, including the [[Lost and Found]] or [[#Under the Stairs Steward|Under the Stairs]].  Clean the windowsills and dust the bookshelves and fireplace.  Clean and organize the computer and projector areas.  Tidy the pillows and blankets, including the front closet for blankets.  Sweep the floor, spray it with the special floor cleaner solution and then wipe it down with a towel or dry mop.
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; Friday and Saturday Kitchen Clean
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: Clean counter tops, stove, sink, table and any other surface that is messy or dirty.  Wash any stray dishes.  If the mess is horrendous, recruit the culprits to help clean.  Clean and organize the bread and fruit corner and the windowsill.  Put anything that does not belong in the kitchen/dining room in its appropriate place.  Empty the dish rack -- avoid [[dish jenga]]!
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; Appliance, Spices and Laundry Room
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: Clean the inside and outside of the microwave.  Clean and organize the coffee/tea area.  Clean all appliances on the counter, especially the toaster oven.  Neatly put away all appliances that do not belong on the counter.  Refill silver spice jars on the hood of the stove.  Organize the spice cabinet.  Tell the [[#Bulk Food Steward|Bulk Food Steward]] if we need to order any spices.  Make sure the laundry room stays tidy with no major backups.  Clean all surfaces.  Wash kitchen towels if necessary.  Follow special instructions posted in laundry rook.  Restock the toilet paper and paper towels stored in the laundry room from the bulk storage area in the basement.
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; Kitchen Mop
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: Mop the kitchen floor at least once time per week.  Properly care for the mop and bucket.  Make sure both are clean and dry before you put them away in the hall closet.  Empty the mop water into the utility sink in the laundry room, not the bathtub or kitchen sink.
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; Yard and Carport
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: Clear off furniture and shake out couch cushions.  Put anything that does not belong in the carport in its appropriate place.  Shake out the welcome mat.  Sweep the entire patio area.  Pick up the wind-blown litter that has collected in the back, side, and front yards.  We can be ticketed by the city if we have trash in our yard.  Generally ensure that the back of the house does not resemble a hippie tent city.
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; Left Fridge and Right Fridge Clean
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: Dispose of spoiled and outdated food from the fridge and freezer.  Wash emptied containers.  Clean fridge and freezer shelves.  Organize and label fridge contents.  Right fridge should leave a clean and spacious fridge for the food shopper, and so it has a '''Saturday morning deadline'''.
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; Hallways, Stairs and Phone Cubby
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: Clean and organize the phone cubby.  Sweep the laminate floor and the stairs to the basement, then lightly spray them with the special floor cleaner and wipe it with a cloth or dry mop.  Vacuum the stairs going up to the second floor and the second floor hallway.
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; Chickens
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: Check at least once daily to ensure that the chickens have food and fresh water.  Refill the food and water buckets as needed.  Report to the [[Chicken Steward]] when we are down to one bag of feed or if the coop is in need of any repairs or if there are any concerns with the well-being of the chickens.  Collect eggs once per day.  Keep the roosting boxes filled with hay.  Turn on the water heater when the temperature is below freezing.  Turn on the coop heat lamp when the temperature is expected to drop below -10°C (10°F).  Love the chickens!
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; Public Bathroom
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: Clean all surfaces including sink, tub, floor and toilet in the first floor bathroom.  Restock toilet paper supply as needed throughout the week.
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=== Stewardships ===
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Stewardships are ongoing responsibilities to the house which each member takes on.  They generally require some specialized knowledge, or benefit from continuity.  Assignment of stewardships must be agreed to by consensus in house meeting.  Some stewardships are a lot of work, others less so.  Some, like the [[#Gardener|Gardener]] and [[#Membership Coordinator|Membership Coordinator]] are generally only a lot of work for part of the year.
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==== House Accountant ====
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* Collect rent checks and deposit them by 5th of every month.
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* Collect deposits as people move in and return them as people move out
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* Prepare and present quarterly and annual [[Budget to Actual]] reports.
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* Prepare and present a house budget for the upcoming year in the fourth quarter.
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* Write checks to reimburse people for house purchases.  Keep the house operating account register up to date in [http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/ Quickbooks Online], as well as in the actual checkbook.
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food shopping. Keep the check book register updated, both in the actual checkbook and in our account on . Make sure that for every check written there is: date , payee , for
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(usually food fiver, bulk food, wed food shop, or Sat food shop) , check amount
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===== Budgeting =====
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At the end of each quarter, do a budget-to-actual for the food account. A budget-to-actual is a comparison of what we planned to spend, to what we actually spent. We go through this process in order to see where our money is going.  The budget-to-actual gives us the ability to make decisions such as whether the amount we pay each month for household items needs to be raised or lowered, what scale of renovation projects we have money to support, etc.
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You can get the actuals by running a report in Quickbooks; then put these numbers next to the corresponding numbers in the budget. Determine the discrepancy between the budgeted amount and the actual amount; then calculate the percent discrepancy to determine the significance of the discrepancies. Look at past budget-to-actuals to see how this is done.
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===== Deposits =====
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Make a deposit a couple of times a month: List the checks on the deposit slip, making sure to put the person’s name next to their check amount. Get the yellow part of the deposit slip back from the teller along with the receipt. Back at home, enter the deposit in Quickbooks. Print out a deposit detail.  Staple the yellow deposit slip and the white receipt to the deposit detail and file the whole
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bunch in its proper place.
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===== Reconcile Operating Account =====
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The [http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/ Quickbooks] register needs to be reconciled with the bank statement each month. When you have
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the bank statement in hand, go into Quickbooks and choose reconcile from the banking menu.  Follow the instructions.  When you have successfully reconciled the information in Quickbooks with the statement, print out a reconciliation report and staple it to the bank statement. File this in its place.
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===== Payment Plans =====
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Work with residents to create and implement [[Debt and Payment Plan Policies|Payment Plans]] if necessary.
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==== Baker ====
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The house Baker keeps track of what baking items - pans and supplies - are available or needed, creates one baked item weekly, makes something all in the house can eat periodically, bakes for birthdays and very special events, attempts to utilize overstocked goods, takes into account what the house needs/wants and helps fill that need/want.  Some kitchen organization and tracking of necessary supplies involved.
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==== BHC Board Representative ====
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Attend monthly BHC meetings.  Represent Masala by sharing about issues and unfoldings happening over here. Support BHC staff and other board members in the proliferation of co-ops in Colorado and help ensure the health and well-being of our affordable housing system.
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Share meeting notes with Masalans, and take their issues/concerns and ideas to the BHC meetings.
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==== Boarder Steward ====
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Teach new boarders how the boarder payment and labor systems work. Keep track of boarder payments. Post a monthly chart with records of recent payments and money owed by each boarder. If boarders have not paid at the beginning of the month, make sure they know how
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much they need to pay, that they need to pay as soon as possible, and check to ensure that their records agree with ours.
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Call boarders to fill empty slots on the cooking/cleaning chalkboard.
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Stay in contact with the bulk steward about how much food is needed for non-residents.
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Recruit new boarders as a way to earn income for Masala.
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There are boarder documents on the house computer at D:\Masala\Food Stuff\Boarder Stuff.
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==== Bulk Food Steward ====
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Learn from the out-going Bulk Food Steward how things go.
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Survey new house members about their food preferences.
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Conduct a food inventory by looking in pantry, cabinets, fridges, freezers and basement to see what we have already. Also look in laundry room and bathrooms to see how much paper towel, laundry and dish soap and toilet paper we have.
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We order most of our bulk food from UNFI through the nursery school. This is a cooperative food warehouse.
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To place an order for any item, UNFI needs certain information about the item. They need:
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Name of the item; The UNFI catalog order number; Quantity; Description (This is similar to the name, but it is UFI’s official name for the item. It is often a nearly indecipherable string of characters, such as “AMH Unbl White OG”); Brand name; Size, in ounces or whatever; Case price; Unit price.
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All of this information is in the UNFI Catalog. Make sure you're using the latest version of the catalog.
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It is house policy that all bulk items will be organic; exceptions must be approved by consensus. The only exceptions to this policy would be items that are only available in their conventional (as opposed to organic) forms. Exceptions will not be made simply because the non-organic version is cheaper.
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We use a shared Google Spreadsheet as our ordering template.  Check with the outgoing Bulk Food Steward or the [[#Food Accountant|Food Accountant]] to get access.
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Using the food inventory and taking into consideration the budget for bulk food, decide what to order. You can do an estimate of the cost of the order by summing the case price column.
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Email this to the bulk manager at the school. S/he should send you a confirmation email within the next couple of hours. If s/he doesn’t, then you need to follow up & make sure they got our order.
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Make sure people are using Google Docs to keep our inventory of people’s food preferences CURRENT.
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==== Chicken Steward ====
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* Buy chicken food before we need it.  Once we're down to one bag of food, go out to Niwot Feed and Supply and get six bags of food with house money.  The [[#Food Accountant|Food Accountant]] can write you a check ahead of time[
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* Coordinate with the folks doing the daily chicken chore to make sure the chickens are clean, fed, happy and (in winter) warm.
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* Suggest and oversee any maintenance projects related to the chicken coop.
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* Make any necessary seasonal adjustments to the coop.
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* '''These are living beings!  Make sure their coop is clean and happy!'''
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==== Compost Steward ====
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Transfer the kitchen waste to the two-bin compost system in the yard, or to the chicken coop, or to the alley compost bin. Keep these different compost bins separate & distinct.
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Make sure people don’t put things that don’t belong in compost bins, in the compost bins.
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Once it is there, periodically turn the waste and let it transform itself into soil.
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Things that can go wrong: it can stink.
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Helpful materials: pitchfork, a book about compost, Zac Smith.
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==== Computer Steward ====
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* Take care of people’s internet needs, wireless access, etc.
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* Help folks set up printing on their personal computers.
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* Keep the house printer and computer up and running.
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* Keep tangle of wires in the living room under control.
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* Make sure that nobody is abusing our network resources.
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* Help people keep their computers secure.
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==== Food Accountant ====
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* Collect food checks from each co-oper every month, and keep track of receipts for food bought by grocery shoppers, as well as vacation refunds.
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* Calculate how much people are owed for food fivers.
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* Write food reimbursement checks.
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* Write checks to people for food shopping -- bi-weekly, bulk, chicken feed, CSA, etc.
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* Keep check book register updated, both in the actual checkbook and in Quickbooks.
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===== Budget =====
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Every three months, do a budget-to-actual for the food account.
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A budget-to-actual is a comparison of what we planned to spend, to what we actually spent. We go through this process in order to see where our money is going.
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The budget-to-actual gives us the ability to make decisions such as whether the amount we pay each month for food should be raised or lowered, whether we can get more luxurious food, whether we can spend more on each food shop, etc.
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You can get the actuals by running a report in Quickbooks; then put these numbers next to the corresponding numbers in the budget.
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Determine the discrepancy between the budgeted amount and the actual amount; then calculate the percent discrepancy to determine the significance of the discrepancies. Look at past budget-to-actuals to see how this is done.
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===== Deposits =====
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* Make a deposit each month after residents submit their food payments.
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* List the checks on the deposit slip, making sure to put the person’s name next to their check amount.
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* Get the yellow part of the deposit slip back from the teller along with the receipt.
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* Back at home, enter the deposit in Quickbooks.
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* Print out a deposit detail.
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* Staple the yellow deposit slip and the white receipt to the deposit detail and file the whole bunch in
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its proper place.
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===== Reconcile Food Account =====
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* The Quickbooks register needs to be reconciled with the bank statement each month.
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* When you have the bank statement in hand, go into Quickbooks and choose reconcile from the banking menu.
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* When you have successfully reconciled the information in Quickbooks with the statement, save a reconciliation report and file it with the other reconciliation reports.
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==== Gardener ====
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Plan and plant a garden for us in the spring and maintain it throughout the summer.
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* Water our garden regularly, or set up watering schedule and make sure it gets done.
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* Bring in the produce when it's ready.
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* Communicate with weekly shoppers so that they don’t buy what we've grown ourselves.
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==== Houseplant Steward ====
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* Water houseplants as soon as soil is completely dry to the touch – usually about once a week, although the cactus plants can be watered less.
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* Soak all the way through with water.
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* It takes about 15 minutes a week to do all the watering.
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* Keep the plants looking decent, which often requires removing dead leaves, trimming back unhealthy-looking foliage, and re-potting plants as they outgrow their existing pots or as new and better pots become available.
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* If a plant is big, strong, and healthy, try to take a cutting of it.
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* The Better Homes and Gardens New Houseplants Book is a good reference if you aren’t familiar with taking cuttings; it is usually available at the public library.
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* Good future projects would be to cultivate more edible indoor herbs and plants and to find more attractive pots at thrift stores. Better yet would be to reuse objects that aren’t technically plant pots to put plants in. Just remember water needs to be able to drain out the bottom of whatever it is you put the plant in, i.e. must have holes in bottom.
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==== Labor Steward ====
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* Use a spreadsheet to keep track of who has how many points.
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* Look at '''points''' earned, listed on the [[#Food Chores|food chore board]] every two weeks, the day of or the day before meeting, and calculate each person’s totals.
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* Report in meeting, every month-ish, on how many points each person has. Point out (pardon the pun) those who have way too many and those who have way too few. Check in with those people to see if you can recommend a way that they could level off.  Perhaps someone has too many stewardships?  Perhaps someone else is not cooking or cleaning the kitchen frequently enough?
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==== Mail Steward ====
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* Currently we are divided into four mail units. Mail may or may not be delivered more efficiently if people write "Unit 1, 2, 3 or 4" on their parcel. (This depends on the idiosyncrasies of our particular mail carrier at the time – they have a hard time understanding why so many of us live in one house.)
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* Please take people’s mail out of their unit box and sort it into the inside mailboxes, in the living room. Keep that area neat and tidy.
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* Sort through the mail sent to people who don’t live here: some of it can be distributed to boarders or people still living in the area.
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* If it’s mail that belongs to someone who lives far away and it looks important, decide whether it should be sent to them, if they should be notified about it, etc.
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* Often people who live far away will tell you it’s okay to open their junk mail, rip up their credit card offers and recycle anything that looks like junk.
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* You, in turn, should encourage them to fill out a change of address slip and change their credit card address/medical address/bank address as soon as possible.
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* Gather newspapers from the front yard if we happen to be receiving unwanted newspapers; also collect new phonebooks from the front porch.
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* When someone new comes to live at the house, make them a name label and put it on one of the mailbox slots in the living room.
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* Try to keep that area clean: it is important that people are able to get their mail.
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* When someone’s box becomes overloaded, notify them in a weekly meeting or deliver their mail to their bedroom.
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* Take out the unwanted mail recycling box as needed.
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==== Maintenance Steward ====
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* Coordinate work days with volunteers who have talents & skills we can use – i.e. plumbing, construction/contracting, painting, wood-working.
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* Keep a running prioritized list of what in the house needs to be fixed. Communicate with Lincoln, who can arrange for community service workers, about the list.
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* Fix what you can fix on your own. Get help with things that you can’t manage. Notify the house in advance if supplies need to be purchased and they total more than $25. Get permission in a weekly meeting.
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==== Membership Coordinator ====
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The Membership Coordinator (MC) is responsible for candidates who may move in, and for all coopers at move-in and move-out. The MC takes charge of the new-member recruitment process and performs the following duties:
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* Verify that vacated rooms have been cleaned and checked for damage, re-painted as necessary, & that a person who has moved out has been thru all necessary steps and had each steward check her or him off.
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* Place ad on Craigslist advertising co-op room openings.
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* Work with community-oriented groups to get the word out about room openings, keeping in mind our affordability and our commitments to diversity and inclusiveness by advertising in places where people who need affordable housing are likely to see our ads.
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* Create flyers and post them.
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* Maintain list of potential co-opers’ names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, first dates of contact, and desired move-in dates.
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* Return calls from potential co-opers on house phone voice mail; arrange dinner, interview, etc.
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* Keep the Masala application up-to-date – both in the phone nook & online.
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* Distribute blank membership application to co-op applicants and completed application to house members prior to interview.
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* Read fair housing statement and member selection process checklist to all applicants.
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* Carry out move-in procedures: lease signing, room walkthrough, manual distribution, income qualification, etc. Note that a person is not a member of Masala until a deposit & signed lease are in-hand, and note that everyone must income qualify with Lincoln, the BHC
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Executive Director.
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* Have the new person read the membership manual, take a quiz, and then assign the new person a buddy who is charged with getting her or him settled in & up to speed on house do’s & don’t’s and processes.
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* Within the first month or so, make sure the new person gets a stewardship (or 2, or 3).
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==== Membership Manual Steward ====
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After notes are taken by various note-takers during weekly house meetings, post them in house bathrooms by Friday of same week. Help house remember to go back to action items we didn’t have time for at last week’s meeting if necessary. Keep a running list of approved proposals that require a change to house membership manual. See front of old minutes binder and also the E drive, file named “changes to the manual.” Make changes to the house manual as needed, and change the format.
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==== Recycling and Trash Steward ====
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* The recycling steward is responsible for general, regular waste removal. Her/his duties include:
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* Emptying kitchen recycling bins into proper receptacles in alley every other day, or as needed.
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* Emptying kitchen trash into proper receptacle in alley as needed.
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* Emptying alley compost & making sure people remember which compost bins are for what types of compost.
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* Transporting non-curbside recyclable materials to proper drop-off site (Eco-Cycle or CHaRM) as needed.
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* Maintaining clean, orderly, and clearly-labeled recycling bins in kitchen.
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* Educating fellow co-opers about recycling guidelines and general environmental conservation awareness.
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==== Special Projects Steward ====
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Do special projects when the budget permits, when we have enough helpers on-hand and when
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you have sought approval in advance from Masalans whose space may be disrupted by the
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construction, maintenance or other project. Thanks for improving our home!
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==== Supplies Steward ====
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Buy non-food supplies that Masalans request, house budget permitting. Check with House
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Accountant to see how much money we have for these. Never buy things that cost more than $25
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without first getting house approval. List of supply needs is kept on the mast chore board near
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the back door.
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==== Under the Stairs Steward ====
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Regularly clean out Under The Stairs; Give away items to ARC or take to the Naropa Free Bin;
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Encourage Masalans not to just dump things that are trash, or large & unmanageable piles of off-
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cast, under the stairs; Remind Masalans that we have a Lost-And-Found, and that Under The Stairs
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serves a different purpose.
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== House Rules ==
 
== House Rules ==

Revision as of 14:59, 6 June 2012

This page constitutes the Masala Membership Manual. These are the agreements which govern the house. The membership manual is incorporated by reference into the Masala Lease. All members agree to abide by these rules and processes when they sign the lease.

Core Values

We, the crazy cats at Masala, hereby aspire...

  • To create community, an oasis of respect, responsibility, and cooperation in the destructively hyper-competitive camel-eat-camel desert of "America,"
  • To discriminate only based on species: we welcome all kinds of humans into our community,
  • To make decisions by consensus so as to hear, honor and accommodate the wishes and views of all of our members,
  • To offer housing that is an island refuge of sane affordability amidst the vast, scary, shark-infested ocean that is Boulder’s feudalistic rental market,
  • To provide a shiny, shiny example of cooperative living and offer support and resources for other budding co-ops, relentlessly, until we turn the White House into a Co-op & its occupants into cooperating tree-huggers,
  • To collectively and consciously purchase and consume nutritious food grown in ecological stewardship of the Earth that sustains us,
  • To share meals, stories, dilemmas, triumphs, tragedies, dish washing duty and utility bills,
  • To nurture each others talents, gifts, and individuality!
  • To declare by our very existence our independence from the socio-cultural climate that alienates us from our essential interdependence upon each other and the Earth we call home. We are a testament to the abilities of human beings to thrive in peaceful cooperation, mutual respect, and as responsible stewards. We are evidence of the great potential that lies in our enormous power to co-create and shape our world.
  • To do it all with gratitude, grace, love and wit, and in ecstatic revelry in the divine mysteries of the universe. -- Mo’s Legacy

Basic Agreements

  • All members will receive equal treatment; there will be no hierarchy
  • We will work towards being a safe haven for diverse lifestyles, cultures, spiritualities and ideologies
  • All decisions will be reached through consensus
  • The good of the house as a whole will come before any one individual’s personal desires
  • We will strive to interact with an open heart and mind, to be aware and respectful of others’ emotional states and provide a safe space for heart-felt, caring dialogue
  • We will support organic and local farms whenever possible
  • We will promote the growth of the cooperative movement
  • We will encourage member involvement in the greater community
  • We will endeavor to minimize our environmental impact
  • We will strive to maintain a gender balance in the house
  • This is low-income housing and both rent and food costs shall reflect this

History

Main Articles: History of the Boulder Housing Coalition, History of the Masala Cooperative

Formation of the Boulder Housing Coalition

In 1995 Will Toor, then the director of the University of Colorado Environmental Center, tasked the then Co-op Coordinator Lincoln Miller with a mission to, “Create co-ops on campus and create co-ops off campus”. In order to create co-ops off campus Will and Lincoln formed a non-profit organization called the Boulder Housing Coalition (BHC). In 1996 the Boulder Housing Coalition hosted the first annual Boulder Co-op Summit for about 20 people at the Brick House Co-op. One of them was Ben Lipman. Ben was the director of the Solstice Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to creating sustainable community in Boulder. They agreed to sponsor the BHC and give us free office space. At the next Co-op Summit Jim Harrington got involved. Ben found a way to hire Jim as an Americorps: VISTA Volunteer. Jim got federal tax exempt 501(c)3 and Community Housing Development Organization status for the BHC, and the BHC president Cedar Barstow kept the organization moving forward. The organization applied for two grants from the city of Boulder to create affordable cooperatives but we were turned down.

Meanwhile a CU student co-op project was also moving forward under the auspices of the CU Students for Cooperative Housing which formed a Working Group with campus administrators, students, housing staff and student government representatives. The group decided to run a student referendum that would ask each of the 25,000 students to give $2 per semester for 4 years. This would raise 100,000 a year for student co-ops. Around this time an old friend of Will Toor's named Tony Sanny came to the University of Colorado to study Business and Law. Tony and Will knew each other from their time in the Chicago co-op system. Tony Sanny moved in to a rental co-op called Limpopo, where Lincoln lived, and they began working on the CU student co-op referendum. In 1998 the referendum passed by a mere 200 votes and Tony took over as the new CU campus co-op coordinator. The Students for Cooperative Housing had a guarantee of $400,000 to create co-ops but still needed approval from the University of Colorado Board of Regents to actually collect the money. They also needed to find a property to purchase.

Birth of the Masala Cooperative

Around this time in 1999 the residents of the Slovo equity co-op (including Will Toor) were looking to sell their house at 744 Marine Street, but they wanted the house to remain a co-op. Tony Sanny worked with NASCO Properties, the development arm of the North American Students of Cooperation, to find short term financing which would allow them to acquire the house and hold it while the money from the student co-op referendum was collected, and to give the Students for Cooperative Housing time to build administrative support for the planned student co-op system. NASCO Properties use a combination of deferred interest loans, a line of credit from the National Cooperative Bank and a $70,000 equity gift from the Slovo residents to buy the house. With this arrangement they could only hold the property, which was re-named the Masala Cooperative, for two years.

The CU Students for Cooperative Housing developed a plan to create a non-profit that would use the referendum money in combination with university loans to buy the Masala Co-op from NASCO Properties and start the first student cooperative housing system in Colorado. The Student Government, The Treasurer of the University, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, two members of the Board of Regents and all the top university financial brass supported the plan. However, without the support of the office of the President, the group could not go before the Board of Regents and ask for final approval. The attorney for the Office of the President refused to sign off on the plan for liability reasons. Instead, she favored a plan that would give complete control of the student co-op system to the University and take an additional 18 months to implement. At this point NASCO Properties had already obtained a one year extension on the deferred interest loans and the financing could not be extended any further. Within nine months they would be forced to sell the house to the highest bidder. Then the 2001 Colorado state debt crisis hit, meaning that only the highest priority University projects would be eligible to receive loans, and the student co-ops were not on the list of potential projects. At this point for all practical purposes the student co-op project was dead.

Later that year, with time running out, the participants in the Boulder Housing Coalition's 6th Annual Co-op Summit found themselves wondering what could be done to save Masala. Will Toor, who had since become the mayor of Boulder, rode up on his bicycle and said "Go for another city grant." Plan B became buying Masala from NASCO Properties with grant money as the down payment to establish the first house in a community-wide co-op federation. In May of 2002 the Boulder Housing Coalition purchased Masala with a $435,000 loan from Vectra Bank, using a $102,000 grant from the city of Boulder and the Slovo Co-op's $70,000 equity gift as the down payment, creating the first permanently affordable rental cooperative in the state of Colorado. The project also received $2,500 in private donations and $2,000 from the Community Foundation.

Over a seven year period it took the combined efforts of The Boulder Housing Coalition, The Solstice Institute, NASCO & NASCO Properties, AmeriCorps, The Fellowship for Intentional Communities, The Kagawa Fund, The National Cooperative Bank, The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, The University of Colorado Student Environmental Center, The members of Slovo and Masala Cooperatives, Thistle Community Housing, The Enterprise Foundation, The Institute for Community Economics and numerous volunteers working for hundreds of hours to get a first co-op for the system.

Bylaws

The Masala House Bylaws have their own page.

Labor System

The Masala Labor System has its own page.

House Rules

The Masala House Rules have their own page...

Guidelines for Creating Safe Space

  • Confidentiality: what happens at Masala stays at Masala
  • No personal attacks; Avoid assuming that everyone else agrees with your perspective; instead, use "I" statements, instead of, "We all think that that you should..."
  • Guests are not allowed at conflict resolution meetings or weekly house meetings unless approved.
  • In house meetings, everyone has the right not to share and the right to pass.
  • It helps if people have respect for and openness to group process.
  • Listen to others; be honest.