RE: Voluntary vs mandatory cooking teams
From: Pablo Halpern (
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 14:42:49 -0500
At 08:47 AM 5/26/99 -0500, Rob Sandelin wrote:
>Sometimes groups start off with too many meals, then people burn out. It
>might be better to start off slowly, once a week, let people get an
>understanding of the enjoyment, then up the schedule. There are places that

With our voluntary system, we are lucky to get one meal per month. This is
not because of an unwillingness to cook or clean up, however. It has to do
with inertia.

Our common house is only a few months old, although most of us have lived
here for more than three years. The result is that we have established a
cohousing life without meals and now it is hard for people to squeeze
cooking into their schedules. Several members have expressed it as the
problem of volunteering to cook "when I'm less busy," which, of course
never happens. These same members (including myself) are tossing around the
idea of a meals coordinator who would schedule people to cook. Once
assigned a day, people could swap with one another or even opt out. The
hope is to reverse the psychology; instead of trying to figure out a day
that would be convenient to cook, I'd normally just cook when I'm assigned
to it and only swap or opt out if I have a good reason NOT to cook on that
day. The system is still voluntary, but with some of the advantages of a
mandatory system. At the very least, we hope this will get people past
their initial reluctance and build momentum.

My concern about this system is the work of being the meals coordinator. I
know I don't want that job and I'm not sure if anybody does.

Has anybody else had a similar inertia problem? Have you found a
satisfactory solution?

- Pablo
Pablo Halpern                                    phalpern [at]

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