Re: paying for work
From: Bitner/Stevenson (
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 08:50:48 -0700 (MST)
What David has said here is true, and I have always supported his argument
in meetings. The things we now pay others to do are either dangerous or
require more muscle than we can normally muster. We still do almost all of
the work ourselves. Our disabled and older residents do their fair share,
and then some, of work. It's just not hard physical labor.

The reason I didn't go into the other side of the argument here was that we
were talking about a community where it was an issue of ability, not money.
Thanks for clearing that up, David.

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, California

>From: David Mandel <dlmandel [at]>
>To: lilbert [at]
>Cc: Multiple recipients of list <cohousing-l [at]>
>Subject: Re: "contract it out"
>Date: Mon, Jan 3, 2000, 7:41 AM

>   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
> 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
> choice of working or paying for others to work starts looking different when
> reality is that some can afford to pay extra for others' labor and some have
> choice but to do the extra labor. This may be less of an issue in a community
> 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
> out the details so that in our profit-centered society in which housing is
> another commodity, 11 of our 25 homes were purchased by people who qualified
> some degree of assistance in order to do so. I don't want to see it now turned
> 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
> 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
> I'm learning to avoid that position. But yes, it's much easier to slide down
> slippery slope in the other direction. Most proposals we've had to contract
> 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.
> 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
> good income stream from our invested reserves. I'm afraid that eventually,
> chickens will come home to roost, ... and we still haven't built a coop.
> resist a lousy attempt at humor in an otherwise bummer comment.)
>     Cheers, all.
> David Mandel, Southside Park
  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.