Re: Work levels
From: Catherine Harper (
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 15:25:11 -0600
On Wed, 14 Jan 1998, Jerry McIntire wrote:

> Scott Cowley wrote, essentially, make everyone agree to do an equal share of
> the work and get rid of them if they don't.

Is that what he wrote?  (I'm questioning, not disputing -- I read the post
a couple of different times, and ended up not responding msotly because I
wasn't really sure what he was trying to say.)

> Nice in theory? Agreeing on what
> should be done is not likely at all, since: A. agreement on such details
> when a group is buying/planning/building is low on the agenda  B.
> Definitions of cleanliness and frequency needs vary widely  C. It doesn't
> work in the planning and building stages, why would it later? People who
> have different standards and time availability don't necessarily want to
> perpetuate the servant class or live in gated communities.

Well, I really lost the sense of it when it went to perpetuating the
servant class.  But then perhaps its just because I'm such a damn yuppy,
or something.  I think it's been mentioned before  ;-)

> How about changes in people's lives? They happen. How about differences in
> ability? If we do have age-diverse communities, who wants to  force
> octogenarians out for work parties? Not that many of them can't participate,
> but all of them? 

Of the things on the list, the one that I kind of tripped over was work.
I have a fairly high pressure job -- not a complaint, just an observation.
I work hard, and like contributing, but my job does influence how much
time I have available in a pretty major way.  So should I just go for the
gated community?  (Hell, I've seriously considered hiring a housekeeper,
though I haven't yet done so -- I like doing housework, but sometimes
there aren't enough hours in the day.  I have in the past hired a
landscaper -- well, okay, I bought her a hardwood floor for her cabin,
and she happens to be one of my best friends, but you get the idea.
Damn, there I go with this servant class thing again...)

> I appreciated the attitude expressed earlier on this list, that for a
> close-knit community to succeed, member's contributions, at whatever varied
> level they come in, can be appreciated. It's not going to work if an
> absolute equality of participation is required.

And absolute equality of participation often is very hard to measure,
also.  I am a very good cook, and enjoy cooking -- I cook to relax, and
like feeding others.  If I have the time, I'll often spend the whole day
preparing something fairly elaborate, just for fun -- is one meal for
everyone credited the same as any other meal, or do I get to keep track of
things on an hourly basis?  I also like gardening -- and at what point
does gardening stop being "work for the community"  and become me pursuing
my personal hobby, whether it is in the community garden or no?  (And, as
I don't currently live in a cohousing community, I don't have a community
garden, and oh my heavens I've been wishing I did, as I've been struggling
to get our fairly substantial gardens ready for planting all on my
lonesome.  In the rain!)  (Another example of problems measuring time --
when Craig and I first moved in together, it would take him an hour to
wash a batch of dirty dishes that would take me twenty minutes.  Should he
work longer, or I work more?  Our answer is that I do work more...  but
he has gotten a fair bit speedier.)

On the other hand, my schedule can be a little whacky (especially since I
carpool with my husband most days, and his schedule can also be a bit
whacky).  So I might not make all the work parties.  And, there are
certain jobs I'm physically unable to do, or to do much of.  (And others,
I admit, that I avoid.  I think one of the reasons I like to cook so much
is that it's so often been a great bargaining chip with various


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