1. Who would be your ideal applicant for this Program?
We’ve identified a number of qualities that will increase the success of those selected for the 500 Communities Program. These aren’t based on specific certifications or fields of study but are instead grounded in skill sets that cater to a team-based work ethic. As a starting place, we see the ideal applicant answering yes to all of these questions:
- You have an Entrepreneurial Spirit and “can do!” attitude
- You are a self-starter, since you will be initiating projects in your region
- You have another way to “pay the rent” while you build up interest and start a project
- You have excellent communication skills and patience
- You posses the ability to lead and to work collaboratively, joining strengths
- You are motivated by a strong desire to succeed in this work
To learn more about the demographics of those who’re interested in the Program, you can view the graphs on our webpage.
2. Can you be a Program Participant without ever having lived in cohousing?
Yes, absolutely. Though living in community certainly offers an added layer to your qualifications as a cohousing consultant, it’s not a pre-cursor to you beginning this work. In fact, Jim Leach of Wonderland Hill Development Company was a cohousing developer for 20 years before he moved into his community. For a number of you, it may be that the first project you launch is your own future community. However, you enter into this work with the intent to continue developing further cohousing projects in your region.
3. Will you select Participants so they are spread around the country, each within their own geographic project area?
Though the geographical distribution of those showing interest in 500 Communities thus far has been nationwide, we do anticipate Program interest to be somewhat concentrated in dense areas with well-established cohousing bases, like California and Colorado. This isn’t to discourage applicants in these regions from applying. We want you to be successful in your future consultation work and therefore will be careful not to select Participants who would be in direct competition with one another.
At the same time, we’ll be looking for complimentary skills in a given region, as multiple Participants could certainly tag-team to work together on a project. Be sure to submit your Program Application early on, so we can have an accurate feel for potential-Participants’ geography.
Once you’ve gone through the Program and have been certified, we’ll certainly have an allegiance to you and furthering your success. If you’re seeking someone with certain skill sets, then perhaps in future years we can select Program Trainees who will aid your work in those areas.
4. What would you estimate as an approximate time commitment for Program Participants? Would this be Full or Part-Time work? How many hours per week/month?
To make the maximum use of the month-by-month curriculum provided to you, you’ll want to allow prep time before the lessons. This will allow you to digest the recommended reading and CoHousing Solutions’ documents provided, and put you in the mindset for the month’s topics. Each month your committed time will include your homework, marketing/facilitating group development (as applicable to your current situation), attending video calls hosted by Katie (tailored to specific cohousing development topics as per the month’s focus) and your call time both one-on-one with Katie and among your peers for Mastermind calls.
We anticipate you’ll need to invest a minimum of 10 hours per month. Of course there’s no limit to the amount of time you can invest in cohousing development, as is the case with any new business. You’ll need to gauge what level of commitment works best for your schedule.
5. Are there actual communities that we will participate in developing as part of the Program, as hands-on training? Will we be using real project problems to learn from?
This Program is based on hands-on training. For instance, when we study site search strategies, you’ll be asked to put together your own site search Program. This will be a multi-faceted effort, as you’ll have access to best practice templates and systems developed through Katie McCamant’s past experience working with successfully established cohousing communities while also developing your own as you go along. To have the greatest chance for success as a cohousing consultant, we highly recommend you hit-the-ground-running during this training. This means during the yearlong Program you’d be working on building a community in your area, using the month-by-month materials we provide and access to both your peers and Katie/CoHousing Solutions for guidance.
The hands-on focus begins on Day One, with the Kick-off Retreat in Nevada City, CA. During the 2015 Retreat sessions, trainees toured local cohousing communities in Nevada City and Grass Valley and spoke with residents who were involved during initial project formation.
6. Will there be yearly Program classes?
At this point, we anticipate recurring year-long classes, as long as interest remains high enough in the Program to justify it. The first-year, 2015 Program provided a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor and included a special pilot program price. Those entrepreneurs ready to make the investment were rewarded for their commitment. The price for 2016 and beyond will only be slightly more, however.
7. Do you recommend that I begin with a project in which I will live, or a project for others?
This will really depend on your current situation. Certainly many who’ve shown interest in the Program so far are already engaged in the process of community formation, with the goal of living there after project completion. Others, however, are anticipating an interest to live in community later down the line, say after retirement. These individuals will be awarded the opportunity, through the Program’s curriculum, of seeing first-hand how to get a community up and running.
You can get a feel for the cohousing background of those currently interested in the Program here.
8. Can I jump around with the Program months to address relevant topics as they arise?
We anticipate that yes, Participants may be at different stages of community development as they sign up for the Program. Part of the benefit of two related Program offerings: the Mastermind calls with other Participants and your monthly one-on-one time with Katie, is that we’ll have time to address your specific needs. In so doing, you’ll receive feedback on the best processes for successfully moving forward with your project and shouldn’t experience any lag in receiving info vital to your cohousing work.
9. I would like to explore cohousing as an option to transition in 2-5 years. However, I’m interested and ready to start working now. Am I part of the “correct” target audience?
You qualify as a pro-active cohouser-to-be, which is great! Not everyone is ready for cohousing at their current stage in life, and looking ahead now rather than later is certainly a smart move. Since the development process is a multi-year effort, beginning work now will aid your transition down the line. You certainly fit the bill for this Program.
10. I’m a member of a self-developing cohousing community. If I were to apply and be accepted into this program, how would it affect the community that I am involved in?
It’s particularly important for self-developing communities to have a solid feel for the cohousing development process. One option is that your community could hire CoHousing Solutions (Katie) to consult with you through the development of your current project. Once the groundwork has been laid for your community’s success, a template for future projects in your region will have already been established and you’ll be ready to begin work on another project.
11. Will you offer templates for flyers, brochures and websites for newly forming groups?
Marketing is certainly critical in a group’s success. Without a committed group moving forward towards crucial cash-flow points, you’ll be up a creek. We’ve collected brochures and flyers from dozens of groups we’ve worked with and will have those marketing templates available for your use.
With online/social media increasingly becoming a vital communication and outreach tool, we’ll have checklists and guidelines for key recruitment via your website, Facebook or Twitter page. Online calendars, member bios and sharing community photos are just a few ways to engage potential new members.
You can follow CoHousing Solutions’ online engagement network for ideas: Facebook & Twitter.
12. Who’s represented on the CoHousing Solutions database: prospective owners, consultants, financing people, marketing people? How do you envision continued growth?
A great strength of us all working together through the 500 Communities Program is that we’ll be able to feed into a shared master database. Our current database is hosted on Constant Contact, with about 3000 people sorted by region, interest, and as applicable, background/experience. We increasingly find that people are willing to move cross-country to find their cohousing community, so having a nationwide scope of those seeking cohousing would be extremely useful to your start-up projects.
Most people on our database are currently looking to buy into cohousing, but there are consultants/professionals on there too. People we’ve worked with on projects as consultants are also on the list and keeping them current is crucial, as they may be in the know about those seeking community in their region.
13. If there are two of us forming a community will you offer us a discount if we both participate in the training program?
Two (or more) of you in a given region could certainly work together as a team on 500 Communities coursework for your project. You would both need to apply to the Program individually, letting us know of your intent to work together. We won’t be offering group discounts at this time.
An alternative option is to hire Katie/CoHousing Solutions to consult with your group about your project on an hourly basis.
14. What would be the estimated annual fee for access to the website database?
After graduation, Program Participants can maintain “membership” in the Program, so to speak, by paying an Annual Licensing Fee for access to Best Practice Templates and related CoHousing Solutions’ materials. This amounts to $1,200/yr. This allows you continued access to Best Practice documents, training videos and continued engagement in Mastermind conference calls (regardless of whether you have a current project on the table). We expect that being part of the Program will be particularly valuable to Participants that are in-between projects and need the assistance and push to cultivate the next project in their region.
15. How long do you think it’ll take to make back the Program fees?
Our goal is for you to have a paying project going by the end of the 1-year program. In this way, you’ll be able to recoup your Program costs during the first project. Once cash flow is running, you’ll likely make enough to re-cover the Program fees and then some as you’re paid for your professional consultation services.
16. What do you envision for Program grads in terms of working arrangements? Would Certified Participants be a part of CoHousing Solutions or working independently?
As a consultant, you’ve got to earn your keep, so to speak, everyday. You’ll add value to the projects you’re working on and your success will demonstrate this. Though CoHousing Solutions will be there to back you up on your future projects, we aren’t directly employing you through our firm. You’ll be an independent contractor, seeking out work in your region.
Both you and your cohousing group will need each others’ confidence as you navigate the forest of development. Since Katie has navigated this forest for dozens of projects, having CoHousing Solutions to back you up will provide an un-matched navigational map, so to speak. Working completely independently from CoHousing Solutions would make this process much more tedious for you moving forward. Therefore, we anticipate a mutually beneficial relationship arising with Program Participants after certification.
17. What is a realistic estimate of the number of projects a certified graduate could handle in a year, if they devoted themselves to it full time?
We want to maximize your return as a certified graduate, so you can carry your experience from project to project, learning as you go. We’re looking at this Program not as a way for you to just build a single project, but to build many projects; making sure your investment in the Program well justified.
It’s likely your first few projects will be slower-going, but the process will become easier and faster over time, as you’ll have an increased understanding of the systems required for development success with a growing project portfolio under your belt. Depending on the actual services you are providing a project, you could consult on 2-4 projects at once, each in different phases.
18. What do you estimate our billing hourly rate will be after we complete the program?
Typically, a consultant would be engaged by the Client (cohousing group or developer) to provide specific marketing and/or project management services as an independent contractor. Local Project Management and Marketing assistance typically pays between $50-$75/hour for ¼-½ time.
19. How is the scope of the 500 Communities Program different from a workshop?
We recognize the limitations of a weekend workshop, and this provided the impetus for envisioning this Program. There’s really no way to cover the depth this Program offers through a one or two day session.
500 Communities is set-up to be a problem-solving Program. Though you may walk out of a one-day workshop excited to hit the ground running on a project, it can be very challenging to maintain that excitement and build interest months out, particularly when you’re working alone. You may have questions as you begin the process, and miss the nuances and insights only a Program with this depth can offer. 500 Communities intends to lead you to greater success through twelve months of extensive curriculum, truly doing justice to the myriad of topics related to cohousing development.
20. What is the value behind the Proprietary Information Fee?
The information granted through the Propriety Information Fee ensures you don’t have to start from scratch when developing membership templates, HOA management documents to show your bank, budget templates, promissory notes, process systems, etc. We draw from these Best Practice documents and continue to build on them over the years, fine-tuning as we continue learning, so we can offer the best possible templates. As a CoHousing Solutions’ Cohousing Professional, you’ll have the opportunity to add your own Best Practices as you navigate the development process.
Since CS has refined these templates over 30 years of cohousing development and the length of many projects, we’re able to draw from the experience of working with clients in varied situations and through a multitude of challenges. The Proprietary Information Fee pays for access to these time-tested systems and templates.
In addition, by collecting a fee at construction financing, we can reduce our hourly consulting fees, which benefits your project cash flow. We want you to succeed and are wiling to tie some of our fees to your success.
21. If I’m already a development professional, is this Program for me?
Absolutely. This Program will teach you how to work with a cohousing group, which is a unique market and process. You’ll learn how to recruit and work with cohousing buyers. Katie has led a number of workshops over the years where attendees have included both development professionals and those who have little experience in the field. Those on both ends of the experience spectrum can gain valuable information from this type of collaborative Program.