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 your home.
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 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, both individually and as a cooperative.
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 any type of discrimination, harassment or oppression.
Each house serves as a community space. We often host events, ranging from community potlucks to parties to community dinners.
We 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. We have 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 through generations. We’re proud to be part of a movement with a rich history that creates a 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 by:
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 families while integrating ourselves and our work into local communities and institutions
Recruiting members who are capable of providing help and support to other members
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 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. All members at Middle Earth and The Trellis fall below the 80% threshhold for the HUD Bloomington metro area.
BCL was founded in 2007 by students from Indiana University with the guidance of experienced cooperatives in:
Ann Arbor, MI
Our range of members expanded to include community members and families from Bloomington and South-Central Indiana.
In 2010, BCL first leased the houses of Goodlawn and Which House, at the time called Rivendell and Helm’s Deep, respectively. The following year, BCL incorporates as a nonprofit. By being a non-profit, 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 at 404 West Kirkwood Avenue. This 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.
Currently, Middle Earth is undergoing a extensive renovation to keep its mission going well into the future. During the Summer of 2022 and extending into early 2023, Goodlawn is receiving renovations to bring it more in-line with communal living, and in 2019, Which House went through an extensive renovations to enhance its common spaces and private bedrooms.
In late 2020, BCL finalized financing and purchasing of our second owned property, located at 921 West 9th Street. We were able to make this purchase through local grants, community-based loans and a traditional mortgage. After that purchase and renovation, The Trellis opened in April 2022. Final touches are being completed at The Trellis. All of our members are excited for The Trellis to have joined us in oue mission.
And we're still growing strong! We have announced the addition of a new property, currently being renovated and converted into cooperative house, at 410 West Kirkwood Avenue adjacent to Middle Earth.
LOW COST OF LIVING
Your cost of living, what others call rent, utilities and food, is one of the cheapest options in the area.
BCL members commit to healthy and joyful life together.
Houses host evening dinners for members and our guests.
ACCESS TO BLOOMINGTON
BCL houses are within biking distance to downtown Bloomington.
TO MEMBER NEEDS
BCL’s governing bodies actively respond to the needs of all members.
The BCL Board of Directors meets on the first Sunday of each month. The Board consists of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Membership Coordinator, House Representatives and At-Large Members from within the local community. We encourage all to participate in these meetings.
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 prior decisions.
Unless policy otherwise specifies, any proposal must receive 70% of cast votes in order to pass.
Name, Middle Earth
Name, The Trellis
Name, Which House
The General Assembly, GA, shall be composed of all current BCL members. The monthly GA 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, all proposals must receive 70% of quarum votes cast in order to pass.
Committees are special bodies composed of member volunteers that make proposals on particular subjects as permitted in their committee charter. Some committees use Slack and Zoom for meetings and communications.
All members are encouraged to participate in a committee which count toward member chore hours. Committee membership represents all houses. Committees have a chairperson and meet based on pre-determined schedules. Examples of committees include:
Houses self-govern in issues that primarily impact members of their own house.
Houses may form their own agendas and policies in accordance with the mission, values and policies of BCL. Unless policy otherwise specifies, any proposal must receive 70% of cast votes in order to pass.