Frequency: Great Oak used to have a community business meeting twice a month. Then they decided to have only one of these two meetings focused on community business, and to devote the other one (called "alternative meeting") to other things: teaching a craft, show and tell, fun activities, or if needed, planning for something that has come up quickly.
Facilitation: Good facilitation is the most important factor for good meetings. The whole Great Oak community has been trained in facilitation techniques. Each meeting is led by two co-facilitators. Not only does this help during the meetings, but there is also a half hour of de-briefing for the facilitators after each meeting. With so many people being trained to facilitate, there is a large pool to draw from. Having co-facilitators means there is a wider range of skills represented, there is someone to take over if one facilitator has to leave early or arrive late, or when one facilitator is presenting an item.
- Introductions of new people or guests
- Welcome and Ice-Breaker
- Agenda Review
- 2-3 agenda items
- Evaluation (by group) of meeting
Committee Reports: Great Oak does not include committee reports in their all-member meetings. Committees meet once or twice a month. Meeting minutes are taken at each meeting and are sent by email to all members.
Decisions: Decisions are made by consensus.
After the relatively large Common House in their original design, Great Oak Cohousing built a smaller common house because of the economic pressure of financing the larger building. Even so, it meets their needs. They have one guest room, 3 offices (for members' professional use), a children's room, multi-use room, laundry, media room, workout room, kitchen and dining room.
Great Oak has been in existence for 14 years, and the changeover has been slight. Currently 2/3 of their population are original members.