Q: How do I sign up?
A: To help us plan, please fill out the Membership Interest Form, which includes survey questions about various aspects of the project that would be useful and exciting to you, price points, timelines, etc. If you're excited enough that you want to join as a member when we launch, please email us or schedule a call so we can arrange a conversation where we learn more about each other. You'll also have the option to secure your membership with a deposit ($500) to get priority choice of rooms when we move in, and optionally pre-pay membership fees with a discount (20%).
Q: What about kids?
A: There will be children at CoDwell. How their presence will be structured is an open question; organizing and implementing a plan would be up to some of the families who want to move in. This could be a whole pod based on co-parenting and home schooling, and/or families could exist across all pods with the organizing roles being separate from pod responsibilities. The people responsible for organizing the presence of children in the community would also have a voice in community planning, with regards to things like safety precautions, scheduling and child-free zones, etc.
Q: What about pets?
A: There will be pets at CoDwell, and one of our prospective members is drafting policies and procedures for pets and support/service animals. We expect to have some indoor and outdoor space set aside for animals. There are concerns of safety and comfort of the animals, damage to the property, and impact on the comfort of other members. This will be discussed further with the whole community in the month prior to launch.
Q: What does it take to be a pod leader?
A: First and foremost, you need to be passionate about the focus of the pod, the shared interest or passion that the pod members will join to be part of and collaborate on. Next, you need to be willing and able to do organization and leadership of your pod. You will be responsible for ensuring that your pod members are fulfilling the responsibilities that your pod has committed to the organization. You will be responsible for planning those commitments and presenting them to the board every three months. Finally, you need to put in some leg work to help get the project off the ground. At this stage, we are asking that a pod leader engage in fundraising totaling $100k, in a combination of investment (through the crowd investing campaign or direct investment) and deposit/prepayment (by recruiting members to join us at launch time).
Q: Why now? Doesn't COVID-19 make a new business, especially coliving, too risky?
A: Quite the opposite! The pandemic is affecting the real estate market in ways that are beneficial to us, including increasing the supply of large weird properties. It is also leading to a surge in remote work opportunities, which will allow many of our members to continue their existing employment while moving somewhere more exciting than their city apartment. The reduction in socialization potential during the pandemic makes the idea of a 30+ person quaranteam to collaborate and socialize with quite appealing to many potential residents. The size of our endeavor also gives us the option to have subsets of the community, including new members, operate as separate quaranteams without the solo isolation that would produce in a smaller community.
Q: Why this property?
A: The Laurelwood Academy property is a dream come true for us. It checks off every box on our list and then some. Enough bedrooms for 3-8 pods of 5-20 people, check. Enough functional space (shop, classroom, studio, office, ...) for those people to do anything they dream of, check. Existing large garden, check. Natural water source, check. Enough land for outdoor events and/or agricultural use, check. Convenient driving distance to a major city, check. Some buildings in great shape for us to use immediately, check. Some buildings ready for renovation to adapt as we wish, check. Some trees, but not enough to be a risk in future wildfires, check. Location that will still be habitable after 30 more years of climate change, check. The list goes on; this property is closer to our ideal than we could hope to find again if we searched for another year.
Q: How will you maintain such a big property?
A: The current budget calls for one full-time employee as a Facilities Manager. Their responsibilities will be to coordinate all repairs and maintenance, as well as to work with the board of directors regarding upgrades and build-out. To accomplish this, they will have a few resources at their disposal:
They will be hired based on their skill with general maintenance tasks and their ability to directly address smaller concerns like kitchen plumbing leaks, light switch and fixture problems, etc. Think of this like the handyman for an apartment complex or school.
They will have a maintenance budget, currently set at $10,000 per month based on maintenance records from a comparable property. This could be used to purchase materials and hire contractors for larger tasks. Think of this like an office facility manager.
They will have access to some amount of unskilled communal labor, from the same pool used for garden work, meal preparation, etc, provided by all of the members.
They will direct some skilled labor provided by the maker/build pod, such as carpentry and electrical work, and the garden pod, such as landscaping work. This will be part of those pods' contributions to the organization.
Q: What other paid positions will exist?
A: In addition to the facilities manager we are budgeting two other full time staff roles, and strong preference will be given to resident members to fill these roles. The precise distribution of responsibilities to these roles will depend on the skills of the people we find to fill them. At this time we are tentatively calling them the Community Manager and the Bookkeeper. The former will deal with membership applications, organizing candidate interviews, coordinating pod relations, handling or outsourcing conflict resolution, etc. The latter will deal with finances and accounting, vendors, budgeting, relations with the investors and lenders, etc.