Re: Work Fairshare
From: allenbutcher (
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 10:15:20 -0700 (MST)
Hi Kevin, nice to hear about what is happening at N Street.

I guess there isn't really a good determinating factor as to how much of
a "system" has to be in place before a "time economy" can be said to be
in existence.  Probably just the fact that you record hours done and post
it in a public place qualifies.  However, the whole idea of a time
economy is that it supports a set of values different from those of the
monetary economy, and that it is therefore a different animal.  Those
time-economy values are caring, sharing and cooperation, as opposed to
the monetary values of possessiveness and competition.  The fact that
your community has a monetary inducement for labor begs the question of
just for what are people really working?  Obviously some of your group
have decided that money is a greater motivator than sharing and
cooperation, while those who refuse to post their hours have decided that
they don't want to participate in your local community version of a
competitive, possessive system.

I don't think that it is appropriate to say that as long as you have a
monetary reward, you don't really have a time economy, since some of your
members obviously are working from the values of a time economy, and they
are only refusing to record their hours as a protest against one part of
your labor system.  What I would be concerned about is the division among
members as a result of the lack of agreement on your labor system.

I would like to suggest that it might help to bring more agreement and
cooperation among your members if you considered an experiment like
Trillium Hollow's Work Fairshare.  You could keep the monetary reward and
also add other nonmonetary positive reinforcements, like simply publicly
recognizing people for their labor contributions at some social event, if
you don't already do that, and if you can do it in a way that is not
essentially just a mutual appreciation society (which simply means using
good taste and much  creativity).  The idea would be to get those who are
not reporting their done labor to get interested and involved in an
economic system that respects their values, and provides for them the
kinds of (non-monetary) rewards that they find motivates their
contribution to the community.  Obviously, they would have to be involved
in the design of that system.  

The problem with money is that when ever it is around it overshadows all
other motivators, and most people simply can't help but react to it.  It
is so deeply ingrained in us.  That is the whole reason for developing
the concept of a time economy in the first place, to give us something
that recognizes motivations other than money.  Personally, I think that
the two (monetary and time economies) can work together in the same
society, as parallel systems, so I don't think that it is necessary that
you drop your $100 reward, but you might find that as you develop more
structure regarding your time economy, and more understanding and
recognition of the values inherent in the time economy, you will have
less need to maintain the monetary reward for shared community labor.

(PS  Hope you don't mind that I share this with the list.  As I'm
spending a lot of time thinking about and writing such consultations, and
receiving no monetary reward  :-)  it is at least a positive motivator
for me to  know that other people may also appreciate and benefit from
our conversation.)

On Fri, 07 Jan 2000 06:14:57 -0800 Kevin Wolf <kjwolf [at]>
> Allen
> N Street moved to a new system a few years ago where people mark 
> their
> hours in certain areas (work parties, meeting notes, and a few other 
> agreed
> upon projects but not cooking or meeting attendance) and basically 
> keep
> track on a common house bulletin board.  At the end of the year, 
> everyone
> who makes a high level are entered into a drawing and the winner 
> gets $100.
>  This year 4 made it.  Some members boycott the hour tracking 
> because they
> don't like to track and to cover for those who don't work at all or 
> very
> little. (One can't tell from reading the hour chart who hasn't 
> worked
> versus who is boycotting.)  How close is this system to a 
> labor-sharing
> time economic system you write about?
> Kevin
> Kevin Wolf
> N Street Cohousing Community member
> 724 N St, Davis, CA  95616
> 530-758-4211
> kjwolf [at]
> To download my facilitation manual or other material on 
> consensus decision making, visit

A. Allen Butcher, Fourth World Services
Providing information for a lifestyle balancing our personal needs 
with those of society and nature.
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allenbutcher [at]     phone: 303-355-4501    fax: 303-388-0602

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