Keeping a commonhouse Running smoothly
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 09:54:20 -0600
Patty, in her through the looking glass #7 asked,

  What do you established  communities do to keep your common house running
smoothly?  Is it a volunteer or a paid position?  How often does it revolve
to another member?  What are the general duties?

At Sharingwood the task of running the commonhouse does not fall on one
person, there is a whole team that takes on that task. The commonhouse team
works together on meeting the needs of running the building. Each month, one
"household" in the community is responsible for a deep cleaning of the
commonhouse which is done in addition to the regular, after dinner or after
use cleanings, and we also have quarterly or so community work parties to do
the stuff that needs doing. (For example, washing the windows)

Our bulk food program is run separately from the commonhouse team, as is the
whole community meal accounting and organization. These tasks are owned by
individuals. The accounting also is owned by an individual, so paying the
bills for the lights, etc. goes to the bookkeeper, not the commonhouse team.

By spreading out all these tasks, it makes the duties of any one person or
team a reasonable commitment. We have several work teams and at the annual
meeting each year people who wish to swap assignments.

Our system is not a perfect one, like any process reality lies between the
potential and the glitches, but it works most the time, the commonhouse is
usually pretty clean and well care for, although it occiasionally gets kind
of funky around the edges until the next work party.

One of the "differences" between us is our individual tolerance for
disorder. Some folks like things neat as a pin, others enjoy that lived in
look. This manifests itself in the commonhouse and so we create a task list
of cleaning tasks for dinner clean up and for the monthly cleaning, the task
list ensures we cover the middle ground. (If the neat as a pin, and the let
it go types BOTH complain, you know you have reached middle ground)

Sadly, we just had to put a long distance block on the phone on the
commonhouse. The commonhouse phone was charged for several long distance
phone calls. There will be discussion about it later in the month and maybe
we can take the block off (We have three different dialing codes in our
neigborhood and this means calling a neighbor can be long distance, so its a
nuicance not to be able to call around to tell folks dinner is running late)

One thing we do at Christmas is that we post a list of things we need in the
commonhouse and people who are so inclined buy "gifts" for the commonhouse.
We have gotten lots of nice things donated this way and it extends our
capital budget for the commonhouse by encouraging those who can afford it to
donate. This is one way we keep our montly assessment pretty low.

Rob Sandelin

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