Designing a Community Membership Process

5-Week Online Course | Starts February 16th

Learn how to attract and cultivate prospective members, and retain members in the Designing a Community Membership Process course.

On this page:

Course description

A well-designed membership process is essential for the success of your intentional community. Recruiting, onboarding, and maintaining quality members ensures your community is an enjoyable place to live for years to come.

Drawing on decades of experience living in and consulting with intentional communities, your instructor Laird Schaub will guide you through how to recruit, cultivate, orient, and integrate new members into your community.

Designing a Community Membership Process is for you if you’re in a new or established community recruiting members, because every community has a rhythmic turnover. You’ll learn the importance of an active membership team. The course is also for you if you’re a prospective member. You’ll learn all the savvy questions to ask when thinking about joining a community, how to be a good visitor, and how to get the most out of a visit as a prospective member.

Live classes are hosted on Zoom. All classes are recorded and available on our learning platform within 24 hours after each class ends and through 3 weeks after the last class. 

Who this course is for

  • membership teams
  • new communities creating membership processes
  • existing communities wanting to draw new members in

What you’ll learn

Classes and topics in the Designing a Community Membership Process syllabus include:

1st Class: Right relationship between the group and membership

  • the case for a standing membership team
  • myths about membership
  • property rights and social contracts
  • questions you should ask up front

2nd Class: Attracting and cultivating prospective members

  • integrating marketing and cultivation
  • what about renters?
  • what about diversity?

3rd Class: Retaining members

  • orientation
  • integration
  • tending to the garden

4th Class: Exit and loss

  • grieving circles
  • exit interviews
  • involuntary loss of rights
  • options when you want new members but have no openings

5th Class: Difficult yet important conversations

  • qualities you want in members
  • limits of diversity
  • aging in place
  • telling people it’s time to go
  • martyrs and slackers

Your instructor

Designing a Community Membership Process course instructor image

Laird Schaub

Laird’s specialty is up-tempo inclusive meetings that engage the full range of human input, teaching groups to work creatively with conflict and diversity—all the while being ruthless about capturing as much product as possible. He lived for four decades at Sandhill Farm, an income-sharing rural community that he helped found.
Laird also helped found the Foundation for Intentional Community, where he served as the main administrator for 28 years. In 1987, he created a self-insurance fund for healthcare among income-sharing communities called PEACH (Preservation of Equity Accessible for Community Health) that he ran for 22 years.
In addition to his expertise in community living, he’s parlayed his passion for good process into a consulting business focused on cooperative group dynamics, styled CANBRIDGE (Consensus And Network Building for Resolving Impasse and Developing Group Effectiveness), since 1987.

Read his blog Laird’s Commentary on Community and Consensus

Course schedule

  • 1st Class – February 16, 2023
  • 2nd Class – February 23, 2023
  • 3rd Class – March 2, 2023
  • 4th Class – March 9, 2023
  • 5th Class – March 16, 2023

All Designing a Community Membership Process classes are on Thursdays from:

  • Pacific: 8-10am
  • Mountain: 9-11am
  • Central: 10am-12pm
  • Eastern: 11am-1pm


“I believe this course likely saved me years of tears by delving into how & why communities can go sideways and ways to keep things on track and/or get them back on the road to re-balancing. Laird shared his insights that can only come from living and working with communities, both personally and professionally (triage!) And the other students and their stories added to the rich learning. Deep appreciation for everyone’s willingness to be vulnerable!”

-Denise Henrickson

“Even though I’ve lived in community for almost 20 years, I learned a lot from Laird. I’m eager to share ideas that will improve our community’s communication going forward. So many ideas were gleaned that we will need to prioritize where to start first.”

-Jackie Day

“Laird has years of experience and is very generous in sharing this in the class. Some of the topics covered made me aware that our community needs to prepare for some eventualities that we haven’t thought about. Nice mix of handouts, slides and online talk. I have told members of my community that I highly recommend the course.”

-Eleanor de Mooy

“Laird is direct, complete in his course format, and inclusive of his students in group break-outs and engaging with students throughout his lecture. His life experience brings a strong foundation to want he is teaching.”

-Kathryn O’Siggins

Course fee

  • Early bird discount through February 5, 2023: $249
  • Regular price: $299

Become a member learner

You get several benefits, including 20% off all our online courses, and access to our Member Library with hundreds of videos, guides, policies and templates.

Sign up for membership

Financial support

You can apply for a scholarship if you need financial support to attend one of our courses. We encourage those with low-income and from marginalized groups to apply. We’re committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.

Apply for a scholarship

The elements of an online course

Online learning platform

Once you register, you’ll get access to our learning area that includes:

  • your course schedule with zoom links
  • recommended books
  • a dedicated discussion forum to connect with your classmates
  • class slides and other course materials
  • class video recordings and Zoom chat feed (posted after class ends)

Live interactive sessions

Each week you join a 2-hour live class with the course instructor, where you learn in a group setting with:

  • interactive presentations
  • break out sessions
  • group discussions
  • the opportunity for questions and answers, and personalized support

Classes are recorded if you miss one.

Journey with a cohort

You’ll join participants from around the world how, like you, want to learn how to be better communitarians. Benefits include:

  • opportunities to connect with like-minded people
  • opportunities to share ideas and stories
  • a network of support to carry your community project forward



Designing a Community Membership Process Course


(Price is per person)*

*Interested in participating as a group? Please email Lauren at [email protected].

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