Participation at the Archive, and how to support disengaged housemates

This is an excerpt from the Archive's house wiki, written September 10, 2018.

Agreements and housemate participation

One of the unique things about the Archive is that this is a place of focus, and we want housemates to lead their own lives. However, we’ve found that a fairly minimal level of commitment is required to keep the house running smoothly and feeling close:

1. Vote in #the-senate Slack channel so that decisionmakers are unblocked.

At minimum, vote on every proposal in the channel before midnight Thursday nights and Sunday nights.


  • ❤️ is fuck yes
  • 👍 is yes
  • 👎 is no
  • ❌ is strong no/veto
  • 🕐 is I want more time to decide
  • 👀 is abstain (defer to others)


  • ✅ is ratified
  • 💀 is withdrawn
  • 🕐 is we’ll re-propose it later (these posts are pinned to the channel so we don’t forget them)

This system has totally changed the Archive's culture: we no longer need to have meetings (!).

2. Spend an hour doing whatever you want in a common space on Thursday nights.

Specifically, between 7:30pm (House Dinner) and 10:30pm (around when people head to bed). The idea here is to make Thursday night a night for community while still accomodating a variety of schedules. This is primarily for housemates, but significant others are also welcome. It’s OK to miss if you’re out of town (duh) or following your dreams. Also, please respect that others might want to read/relax/be introverted during this time: try to make sure that at least one common space is safe for chiller activities.

Your attendance doesn’t have to overlap with House Dinner, but the strongest community houses do all eat together regularly!

Unless otherwise specified, House Dinner is BYO. (If you’d like to procure dinner for everyone and Venmo them for the cost, check out the Archive favorite orders spreadsheet).


  • KJ: *Problem:* Folks have been feeling avoidant of house dinner… we think this is primarily caused by house dinner feeling like an obligation due to being overly structured and restrictive - we all feel obligated to sit at the table, talk through an agenda, take turns talking through hi lo piccolo, etc.
  • Proposal: Turn House Dinner into House Activities/Hangout/Rest/Self-Care Night (needs rebranding). The only requirement is that we are in the common space from 8-9pm every Thursday if we’re in town, and we can spend that time doing whatever we want - read, work on a project, play a game, talk to other people, etc. This way, we can use it to recharge, we can use it spend time with others, etc. - and we still cultivate that feeling of community. The theory is that this is more enjoyable and more likely to be something you look forward to because it’s pre-carved-out “free time” for you to do whatever you want 🙂
  • The inspiration for this is that I’ve noticed a few really awesome nights in the house - this past Saturday, and a few other Saturdays especially. The common theme between all these nights is that we were all in the same space, but some doing our own things and some hanging out with each other - e.g. Tom VR sculpting, Jason making art, me reading a book, Arram and Josh talking, etc. - with chill background music.
  • Note: This can be done in addition to cooking/eating (i.e. folks can eat during this “free time”).

If you’re feeling disengaged

It’s OK! A housemate’s energy for the house will ebb and flow as their life gets more or less hectic; this happens to everyone. As long as you’re not consistently missing the above two commitments, please don’t feel guilty about it, and talk to someone who’s been at the house for a while if you do. Alternatively, we might be able to rejigger hangout time to work better with your schedule.

If you are consistently unable to participate, then eventually there should be a conversation about whether the house is meeting your needs. There are ways to participate in this community that don’t involve living in the house - becoming a Fellow, for instance, or moving to a quieter/smaller house nearby - thereby freeing up the room in the main house for another potential housemate.

Tips for when you’re feeling disengaged:

  • Sharing meals is a great way to stay connected! If you’re eating meals near the house anyway, eat in a common space, even if it’s only briefly.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider posting in #inner-circle to let the house know that you’ll be pulling back for a period of time - we’ll understand and support you.
  • If there is something the house or housemates can do to better support you, please say so in a channel like #inner-circle.
  • Alternatively, if there’s something about the house that is making you feel disengaged (we used to do house meetings on Thursdays that felt like chores, for example), then please say something to someone! We’ll most likely course-correct.
  • Consider inviting housemates to the events you’re going to, if possible.


  • Andrea: Once someone feels unengaged, and like they haven't been participating, they feel guilty. So they pull away more, and then they spiral out.
  • Jason: How do you bring people back in when they're disengaged?
  • Andrea: Exactly. A really earnest conversation with those people that isn't shaming. If you go down the path of shaming, which I've seen communities do, then they disengage more and more and then they move out.
  • Jason: What's a good way to frame that conversation?
  • Andrea: Ask, "Hey - what's going on in your life"? Like, sometimes people aren't contributing because they have so much other shit going on. Like: "We really love when you show up in the space in these ways; the other night, I shared a dinner with you. And it just made me so happy when you did that. Here's what we know you're capable of what you could do more of. How do we help you with that?" Not passive aggressive sticky notes. I've seen like, three different houses go through a leaving notes phase (laughing).
  • Telling the person that we really appreciate when they show up in this way, and looping them in. And this is where I think it's really bad: if someone needs to take a break, they should still stay on Slack and stay engaged in what's happening. Because if not, when they want to jump back in, they're gonna be like, "Cool! I took a three week break. Now, I'm ready to jump back in", and people are gonna be like, "Oh, we talked about that last week." And then they're gonna be like... OK, I should stay out.
  • Jason: What do you do if they don't participate even after such a conversation?
  • Andrea: After a while there should be a conversation on whether this house meeting their needs. Are we cocreating something? There's an opportunity cost of living in community - like, you're taking the spot from someone else. You kind of have to choose there.