work rules in cohousing
From: Marti Major (
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 14:41:14 -0600
This was the thread I wanted to respond to tow or three weeks ago when
the list went down:   
> > Date: Mon, 2 Dec 96 21:04:14 UT
> > From: "Rob Sandelin" <Floriferous [at]>
> > Subject: RE: tasks at sharingwood
> > Message-ID: <UPMAIL03.199612032333390276 [at]>
> >
> > >Rob Sandelin said:
> >
> > > At Sharingwood there are no participation expectations for anyone,
> > > people partipate as they see the need, both community and personal.
> > > This means some folks do more than others, but, in theory anyway,
> > > it's because they want to, not because they have to.
> >
> > I suspect this is the exception rather than the rule.  They must have
> > a very close and trusting group of people to make it work without
> > formal rules.  I would want something written down.
> >
> > Yeah we do have a lot of trust, having been together for quite awhile.
> > However, we do have one written list of tasks for monthly cleaning the
> > commonhouse, something that is new for us. One observation that was made 
> > came
> > from someone who wanted her name on the list, was having names on a list
> > alerts everyone that yes, they did do something. One of the perceived
> > disavantages of the "somebody jest did it" model of tasks is somethings get
> > done and its unclear who did what. I personally think this is an bit of an
> > avantage because you don't always know who does what, so you can only worry
> > about yourself and your own contributions and not have to worry about
> > comparing yourself to others or whether or not others did their "fair 
> > share".
> > I have always been dubious about the notions of fairness in tasks, so that 
> > an
> > hour of childcare is less than two hours of hanging siding.
> >
> > I think community comes when you stop worrying about that stuff and just
> > appreciate what gets done and celebrate what gets accomplished, not who does
> > it.
> >
> > Rob Sandelin
> > Sharingwood
> >
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > End of COHOUSING-L Digest 14
> > ****************************
> Dear Rob, and all else who read this:
> I am writing to you from the Wasatch Front here in Utah, eventually of
> Wasatch Cohousing I hope.  While your wisdom and tone often impress me,
> I must reply here, that your work related idealism runs smack into my 
> experience.  I
> recall my mother raging at us four kids, "Look at this place!  If I
> don't take care of it, nothing gets done!  You live here too, don't you
> care?  You like it when it's nice, why don't you contribute?!"  We were
> variously amazed and confused, because we assumed she would do
> everything, because she always did, eventually.
> The problem with your model of a perfect community where everyone feels
> responsible and pitches in, is that not all of us are created
> emotionally equal, nor equally sensitive to entropy, nor equally
> responsible.
> I was involved in starting and developing an employee owned restaurant
> in Davis, CA, and we were much more harmonious when everyone knew their
> roles and responsibilities.  The fact that we were inter-dependent and
> accountable to each other created a sense of team belonging, spirit and
> loyalty, which allowed for altruism but did not depend on its infinite
> supply under duress.  As a person who naturally feels responsible for
> getting stuff done, I sometimes resent others who don't pitch in.  You
> can blame me for my resentment, while trying to appreciate the work, but
> it would be better to accept human frailty and plan solutions.  My
> experience is that structure can liberate.  By defining each
> participants responsibility, we are all free to do our duty and
> celebrate our time off.  The load is lighter when it is shared.
> Almost all of us work in situations dictated by job descriptions, time
> lines, goals, and review.  I do not advocate such a high level of MBO,
> but we need to understand the need for structure to facilitate
> effectiveness and harmony.  Even in a marriage, there needs to be an
> understanding of roles and responsibilities along with appreciation and
> rewards.  Without these marriage, partnerships, and/or group life can be
> hell.
> Keep in mind, democratic participation requires democratic duty as well
> as privilege.  If only a few feel responsible for the work, those few
> will eventually have more "power".  Those uninvolved will not be as
> aware of the community's needs.
> One last point, we regulate our financial involvement very carefully.
> We account for every financial commitment and contribution, why not time
> commitments and time contributions too?

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