Re: "contract it out"
From: David Mandel (dlmandelrcip.com)
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 00:49:34 -0700 (MST)
  My friend and neighbor Liz Bitner/Stevenson wrote:

> To be sure, it is a slippery slope. It can go too far. There is real benefit
> in working together to get things done, as well as saving money. But when
> there is so much work that it can't get done, then the community becomes a
> burden to the members. I' pretty sure every group wrestles with this. I know
> we have and probably always will. That's not necessarily bad. It means there
> are alot of people here who care about  community.
>

    I'll briefly share one aspect of our "wrestling" that Liz didn't go into and
some of the other responses seemed totally blind to:

    To say that some people choose to contribute more time, others more money
sounds like an easy, liberal solution to members' different preferences. But
remember the old adage that says something about how our legal system in its
egalitarian majesty forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges?
    Well, all of our members have roofs, but to give everyone a supposedly equal
choice of working or paying for others to work starts looking different when our
reality is that some can afford to pay extra for others' labor and some have no
choice but to do the extra labor. This may be less of an issue in a community 
where
everyone is fairly well off, but we deliberately made a point of creating a
community of people with varying economic situations. We spent extra years 
working
out the details so that in our profit-centered society in which housing is just
another commodity, 11 of our 25 homes were purchased by people who qualified for
some degree of assistance in order to do so. I don't want to see it now turned 
into
a stratified community where the class differences are mirrored in community
participation patterns (bad enough that they have to be in our outside lives).
    That's why I've been resistant to a steady stream of suggestions from some 
of
my neighbors to "contract out" more and more work that we could do ourselves if 
we
decided  to -- and were willing to insist on exercising peer pressure to 
achieve a
somewhat higher level of participation.
    It's not helpful to be too purist and extremist to the point of opposing
payment for any work, even when it clearly makes sense to hire out certain 
tasks.
I'm learning to avoid that position. But yes, it's much easier to slide down the
slippery slope in the other direction. Most proposals we've had to contract out
sound small, but they can add up to serious money when enough of them pile up --
and some of the more recent ones have tended to be larger.
    Contracting out has already noticeably raised what we all pay each month. 
Some
members have fallen far behind in their fees. And this is in boom times, when
unemployment is not a big issue for most of us cohousers and we're generating a
good income stream from our invested reserves. I'm afraid that eventually, some
chickens will come home to roost, ... and we still haven't built a coop. 
(Couldn't
resist a lousy attempt at humor in an otherwise bummer comment.)
    Cheers, all.
David Mandel, Southside Park


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