work credits
From: Scott Cowley (
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 17:47:33 -0600
Catherine and Jerry,
Thanks for going with the discussion, but your replies are premised on a couple 
of mistakes:
1)  That I am for enforcing an "absolute equality of work", and
2)  That the work commitment is not based on any meaningful discussion.

The whole thrust of my posting was against those who are "using" their 
cohousing neighbors.
I am for negotiating work levels.  For negotiating a fair level of commitment 
to the community 
upfront. Then enforcing it.  Fairness is not necessarily based on strain 
levels.  It is 
based on number of hours, timeliness, and how much of a "shit job" it is.  My 
suggestion is to list
such jobs, discuss abilities, assign the number of hours required, and enforce 

Please re-read my original posting.

I particularly appreciate the anecdotes shared by other list-ers about their 
experiments with
fair work requirements.

Now, on to comments about comments:

> 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

There still needs to be a basic agreement and a standard set.

>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  ;-)

Are You ?

> How about changes in people's lives?
> How about differences in ability?
> If we do have age-diverse communities, 

How about them ?  Nothing says that the discussion can't be continued if done 
However, it isn't a discussion when one is demanding accommodations be made ad 

You might think a bit more about your time commitments relative to your 

>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...)

This sounds like a negotiated trade, not servitude.  There is a vast difference.

> 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.

See above.  My original posting certainly mentioned the need to appreciate 
contributions made.

>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.
        So arrange a time to make it up.

>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

>    Catherine

Believe it or not:
Some people find it hard to devote an entire day to cooking just for the sake 
of their own
enjoyment and the praise and gratitude of their friends.  Other people actually 
find it their
duty to garden and do not have the latitude to choose it as a hobby.  The 
question is
not how to apportion out the fun, easy, optional work.  Pam Silva was talking, 
in her
original posting, about work which nobody wanted to do, and which ultimately 
threaten to demoralize the community she lives in if it doesn't get shared 

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