Janelle Orsi

Janelle Orsi

Through her Berkeley-based law practice, “sharing lawyer” Janelle Orsi helps groups sort out the legal nitty-gritting of forming cohousing communities, ecovillages, co-working spaces, car sharing arrangements, worker cooperatives, nonprofits, childcare cooperatives, social enterprises, and community gardens.  Janelle is co-author of The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community (Nolo Press 2009), a practical and legal guide to cooperating and sharing resources of all kinds.

Janelle is also Co-Director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, CA, an organization that facilitates the growth of sustainable and localized economies, through education, legal research, and advocacy to support practices such as barter, cooperatives, community-supported enterprises, sharing, local currencies, ecovillages, urban agriculture, and local investing.

To Contact Janelle:

Phone: 510-649-9956

Sharing Solution Blog and Book: www.SharingSolution.com
Law Office of Janelle Orsi: www.JanelleOrsi.com
Sustainable Economies Law Center: www.TheSELC.org


During Art of Community Janelle will be facilitating the following with Cynthia Hawley:

Legal Structures to Support People, Place, and Purpose in Intentional Communities

This workshop will address five ways that intentional communities can broaden their mission and build deeper purposes and activities into their legal structures. The workshop will be a presentation allowing for Q&A throughout.

Topics will include:

1. Protecting Land and the Natural World: How can intentional communities protect and nourish ecosystems using legal tools such as conservation easements, land trusts, restrictive covenants, and open space preservation plans?
2. Advancing Educational, Social, or Charitable Purposes: How might an intentional community build in social, educational, and charitable activities into its mission? What are the possibilities and limitations of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax exemption, and how might an intentional community partner with a nonprofit?
3. Adopting Participatory Governance Models: How can intentional communities build participatory governance models, consensus policies, dynamic governance models, or Holacracy into their legal structures?
4. Promoting and Preserving Affordability: What are some key legal strategies for creating economically sustainable housing models? How might communities develop housing that is inexpensive and/or that does not rely on loans from large banks or on government subsidies? What legal tools can communities employ to preserve the affordability of ownership shares?
5. Facilitating Enterprise in Community: What legal issues arise when intentional communities engage in income-generating activities? What are implications for legal structure, tax, employment laws, and zoning?

Legal Basics for Forming, Sustaining, and Adapting Communities

What basic legal issues should every member of an intentional community learn about? And what are some nitty-gritty legal tools you need to create and sustain a thriving intentional community?  What legal issues come up as the community adapts to change? 

Attorneys Janelle Orsi and Cynthia Hawley will empower you with some of the basics and will share some useful tools, making the topics not only digestible, but even fun and interesting! This workshop will cover legal entities, ownership forms, documents, land use issues, and other legal questions might come up along the way in relation to tax laws, securities laws, employment laws, community association laws, and so on.  

You’ll take home some goodies: a sample TIC Agreement, sample Bylaws, and more! The workshop will be a presentation allowing for Q&A throughout.