Each house, and BCL in general, is run democratically, and all members contribute their labor in order to keep housing costs affordable. We share responsibilities for household chores and administrative tasks involved in running the cooperative, We make decisions by consensus, typically by at least a 75% majority vote.
As a housing cooperative, we place great value on community. We share communal meals each night, and we have weekly house meetings. We throw parties, open mic nights, documentary/movie screenings, and other community events. We eat together, relax together, and support one another.
Perhaps most importantly, we are committed to fun and inspiration. We paint. We build. We sing. We dance. We watch movies. We ask about each others' days. We really care about the answer. All of this is what makes the cooperative not just a place to live, but it makes it a home.
Between our four houses, BCL consists of over 60 members from all aspects of the Bloomington community. Roughly a third of our members work around town, a third are graduate students, and a third are undergraduates. Our membership consists of individuals, couples, and families. We do not discriminate. We have an open membership policy: anyone who can commit to the expectations of membership is eligible to join.
At its core, BCL is about community. We have communal meals, house meetings, and cooperative events. We hang out together and support one another.
BCL is a place where people have made lifelong friends. We strive to make cooperative living more than just a place to eat and sleep.
Many members are drawn to BCL because it offers a space for “living consciously.” This means different things to different people, but in general, we strive to be intentional in how we relate to one another and to the world around us.
We work to be mindful of each other’s needs. We also challenge each other to recognize the social, environmental, economic, and political consequences of how we live.
Additionally, as an organization committed to creating a living environment that is safe and nourishing for everyone, we strive to implement social safety practices within the cooperative. We do not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or classism. We do our best to make BCL a space free from discrimination, harassment, and oppression.
Each house in the cooperative serves as a community space. We often host our own events, ranging from community potlucks to parties to Goodlawn's famous open mic nights.
We also share our resources in support of progressive endeavors outside of the cooperative. The houses host workshops, with topics ranging from building free libraries to dumpster diving. The cooperative has hosted events, meetings, documentary screenings, and get-togethers for a number of groups over the years.
BCL is one small part of a much larger cooperative movement that spans across the globe, stretching back generations. We’re proud to be part of a movement with a rich history of organizing, building, and creating a better, more equitable world and society.
"Bloomington Cooperative Living creates and maintains affordable, communal housing in Bloomington, Indiana that is democratically controlled by residents."
- Adopted July 2021 by the BCL General Assembly
As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. we believe housing is a human right. We work together to create, maintain, and expand affordable housing in Bloomington, Indiana without a profit motive.
• Creating institutional structures that allow community-based ownership and administration of large assets in order to benefit from economy of scale and prevent profiteering.
• Establishing governance structures and shared values that help us end exploitation of people in need of housing.
• Building administrative and decision-making structures that encourage collective democratic decision-making.
• Recognizing the ways in which our members and affiliates are already part of the communities around us as workers, students, friends, and family Integrating ourselves and our work into local communities and institutions.
• Recruiting members who are capable of providing help and support to other members.
• Proactively addressing member's material and emotional needs inter-personally and institutionally.
• Responding to members experiencing distress with compassion and care for both the member and the community.
• Rejecting the imbalanced power dynamics created by charity Expecting members to contribute to our common cause to the extent that they are able.
• Asking members to learn and grow in their work toward the fulfillment of all aspects of this mission statement, and supporting one another’s growth to this end.
• As part of the BLC mission and commitment to affordable housing, 75% our members meet national, state, and local low-income standards.
BCL was founded in 2007 by students from Indiana University with the guidance of experienced cooperatives in Ann Arbor, MI, Madison, WI, Athens, OH, and Berkeley, CA. Our range of members has expanded to include community members and families from Bloomington and surrounding areas.
In 2010, BCL first leases Goodlawn and Which House, at the time called Rivendell and Helm’s Deep, respectively. The following year, BCL incorporates as a nonprofit. So, BCL doen't pay taxes, and members don't pay sales tax when making purchases for the organization.
BCL's first owned property was Middle Earth located at 404 West Kirkwood Ave. The house is named in homage to its predecessor the Middle Way House. The 2011 purchase was acquired through loans from Shared Capital, IU Credit Union, and Middle Way House itself.
In late 2020, BCL finalized financing and purchasing of our second owned property, located at 921 West 9th Street, through grants, community-based loans, and a traditional mortgage. Opened in Spring 2022, BCL announced the name of this community as The Trellis. While final renovation touches are being completed, members of the BCL community are excited for The Trellis to join our other 3 cooperative housing communities.
And we're still growing strong!
• LOW COST OF LIVING
The cost-of-living in BCL is one of the cheapest options in the city.
• COOPERATIVE LIFE
BCL members commit to healthy and joyful life together.
• SHARE MEALS
Houses host nightly dinners for members and guests alike.
• ACCESS TO BLOOMINGTON
BCL’s houses are all within biking distance to downtown Bloomington.
• RESPONSIVENESS TO MEMBER NEEDS
BCL’s governing bodies actively respond to the needs of its members.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Every month the BCL Board meets on the first Sunday of each month. The Board consists of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Membership Coordinator, and House Representatives from each house. The Board may also consist of At-Large Members from BCL members and non-members. However, all members are encouraged to attend each meeting.
The Board has special rights and responsibilities in maintaining BCL's continuity of existence. If the board believes an action taken by another governing body of BCL is unlawful or in grievous violation of the BCL mission, the Board may pause the implementation of the decision and require that the other governing body re-deliberate on their prior decision,
Unless policy otherwise specifies, any proposal must receive 70% of cast votes in order to pass.
921 - Election Pending
Goodlawn - Ariana Gunderson
Middle Earth - Election Pending
Which House - Maria Pope
Each month, members from all houses come together in a General Assembly (GA). The General Assembly shall be composed of all current BCL members. The General Assembly is the highest governing body of BCL, empowered to make decisions that affect the organization as a whole.
In special cases the General Assembly can review decisions made by other bodies. Other BCL-wide decisions may be made through our organization's online social workspace on Slack.Unless policy otherwise specifies, any proposal must receive 70% of cast votes in order to pass.
Committees are special bodies composed of volunteers from the BCL membership that make proposals on particular subjects, or decisions as permitted in their committee charter. Some committees use Slack and Zoom for meetings and communications.
All BCL members are encouraged to participate in a committee. Each committee consists of members from multiple houses, which allows for inter-house collaboration and friendships. Committees have a chairperson and meet based on pre-determined schedules. Examples of BCL committees include:
The membership of a BCL house may self-govern in issues that primarily impact members of their own house in their current membership period.
Houses may form their own house constitutions and policies, in accordance with the mission, values, and policies of BCL as a whole. Unless policy otherwise specifies, any proposal must receive 70% of cast votes in order to pass.