Many foreigners and young people have little knowledge and experience in running blocks in Oslo, borettslag (housing cooperative, so my dictionary tells me) and sameier (joint ownership), the two ways of organising things here. Here are a few points about how it was done the last time I lived in the city, in fairly good organised blocks.

Big decisions, changes in backyard or building design or projects concerning large expenses were always brought up on the general assembly. The board could not do any big things during the year unless they had been discussed and decided at the general assembly. Exceptions were of course for instance damages that had to be dealt with immediately, but things like that were usually discussed informally in the hallway or the inhabitants were informed through the mailbox. Sometimes an extraordinary assembly could be held, but that was a rare thing to do, as I recall it.

In general, the hallway, or wherever and whenever you met coincidentally, was a normal place and time for discussing things and asking questions to people on the board. Ringing the bell, phoning and sending e-mails were of course also accepted, board members had to be available for the rest of the people in the block for answering questions and discussing things.

New ideas were also brought out by word to neighbours. The board would never operate in any form of secrecy.

If you missed a meeting where things were discussed, you also missed the opportunity to influence the decision. A replay happened, but was actually a breaking of the rules.

But the decisions in question always concerned specific projects. General plans for the future could not be laid decisively in advance, and the board was never given carte blanche for decisions on extensive new plans or work.

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