The End of the Waiting list and Shal’s perfect number

Since November 2008, Twin Oaks has been filled to capacity with members.  This situation created a waiting list of people who had been accepted for membership, wanted to join, but there was not space.  Over the last 5 years we have occasionally cleared the waiting list for short periods of time, only to have it pop back up almost immediately.

for someone to come, someone else must go

for someone to come, someone else must go

The community has the following formula for determining the maximum number of members we can have, which are referred to as pop cap.  Here is the formula:

Total number of rooms available for use as bedrooms for either members or children:

The number of rooms reserved as “Child Rooms” as determined by the Child Board and Child Board Policy:

The number of “Flex Spaces” desired by the community, as determined by the planners:

Any adjustments by the planners:


Available member rooms = 92 our current pop cap.

At the core of population cap is having a room crunch.  In the next couple of months we will drop below pop cap and we will clear out the waiting list.  Since only one person applied in the last visitor group, only one is applying in the current relatively small visitor group, and there is no visitor group scheduled for December, it looks like we will not have an active wait list for at least some months.  This will be the first extended time without one in 5 years.  This is actually a good thing.

when we are at pop cap, everything seems crowded and a bit surreal

when we are at pop cap, everything seems crowded and a bit surreal

Shal and i have discussed this many times, and he believes that the ideal population size for the community is just under pop cap.   His thinking is that when we are at our population cap, people stress out about waiting lists.  This i can validate, since i am often counseling people around this situation and there is often stress, even though it is often unreasonable.

If we are just shy pop cap there are empty rooms for guests or for slack when members need some extra days to move between rooms (at pop cap these moves are often annoyingly pushed forward).  If we don’t have a waiting list and some wonderful person shows up, we are much more likely to say to them “why don’t you be a long-term guest”.  If we are at pop cap, we are more hesitant, perhaps unnecessarily cautious, some lovely folks leave before we wish they would.  When we are at pop cap members who are thinking about taking time off sometimes put it off, because they are unsure they can get back in when they want to return. [Members on leave go to the top of the waiting list, but someone has to leave for you to get a spot and this can take months.]

And as is often the case when Shal and i disagree about community policy, in the end i come around to Shal’s thinking.

because peoples plans change, waiting list times are unpredictable.

because people’s plans change, waiting list times are unpredictable

For reasons which are slightly mysterious to me, the number of people applying for membership in the most recent visitor groups is down slightly.  We have been more selective about accepting new members; we have put an extra step in for people over the age of 54 who are applying.  This might be discouraging people from applying or joining the visitor group. But why has membership interest dropped off  in recent months?  Perhaps just a statistical glitch.

If you have ever been here and are curious about how these rooms are spread across the different living groups (one or two living groups to a building) here is the breakdown.

Sunrise = 10 Rooms (1 kid room)

M* = 17 Rooms (3 kid rooms) 

Tupelo = 18 Rooms (5 kid rooms)

Beechside = 11 Rooms (4 kid rooms)

Nashoba = 10 Rooms

TaChi = 12 Rooms

Downstairs Oneida (womens residence) = 8 Rooms

Upstairs Oneida = 9 Rooms

Harmony = 10 Rooms

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Tags: , ,

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

5 responses to “The End of the Waiting list and Shal’s perfect number”

  1. North Star says :

    Why not simply build more rooms at Twinoaks? What is the rationale for capping the population at around 105?

    • paxus says :

      It takes Twin Oaks 2 years to plan a residence (before breaking ground) and then another 2 years to build something. And we wont even start this conversation until the Tofu Hut, which is 3 years delayed now, is complete.

      So despite or desire to grow, we dont have the capacity to do it quickly.

  2. Ali says :

    I agree that in terms of how the community “feels,” just-under-popcap is desirable… but it seems as if there are so many open jobs (especially garden) that we could do with more hands on the farm. I think ideally we would have a residence where people could live “in transition” either people on the waiting list who want to get in (I think we lose quality people when we can’t accept that at a time that works for them), people coming back from PAL or some other situation, or perhaps even people who come in the summer for the inevitable increase in work we have.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: