|Eno Commons's Meal System||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: DCS (cdmemployees.org)|
|Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 18:42:18 -0700 (MST)|
I'm sending this description of our meal system, because in a few aspects, it varies considerably from the norm in cohousing. Here are the highlights, and if you want to read further, go ahead: 1. **EVERYBODY COOKS, TWICE EVERY 3 MONTHS, WHETHER OR NOT THEY EAT** 2. COOKING TEAMS PAY FOR THE MEALS THEY PREPARE 3. WE HAVE HIGH ATTENDANCE AND WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A COMMONS HOUSE (YET) We have 21 households moved in, with 33 adults living on the site. We don't have a commons house yet, but we've been having community dinners at least once a week since well before anybody even moved in, and for the last year, we've had a regular Tuesday night dinner, plus a dinner every other Sunday. For the last six months, we've had cooking teams prepare the Tuesday night dinner, relieving us of the never-ending potluck suppers. **EVERYBODY COOKS, TWICE EVERY 3 MONTHS, WHETHER OR NOT THEY EAT** We currently include the renters and live-in partners in the cooking cycle. Currently, the system is more or less mandatory, with a scheduler who sets up each cycle, trying to take into consideration everyone's travel and work schedules. We do not currently have separate "cleaning" teams. We do not have lead cooks. Past scheduling conflicts, the cooking teams are assigned in random fashion. One advantage is that people who wouldn't normally hang out with each other have a common task together. Another advantage is that having three lame cooks together forces at least one of them to improve his/her skills in order to avoid utter embarrassment. Mandatory cooking means we *all* have to learn how to cook better. Once the cycle is set, if you can't cook on your night, it's your job to find someone to switch with. We average about 25 adults for each meal (usually more like 28/30.) Some neighbors rarely eat common meals, but show up for their cooking assignment twice a cycle. Some people have relatives who eat with us a lot, and those relatives are not assigned to cooking teams. (Note: The general notion is that if someone had a "personal situation" of whatever nature, the scheduler would handle it discretely and keep that person off the rotation. The discussion has been that eventually, all of us will have a time where we need to get out of the cooking cycle, so over a period of years, it evens out.) COOKING TEAMS PAY FOR THE MEALS THEY PREPARE The eaters don't pay anything. I like this system because, and I know this is just a mind game, I pay $20-$30 each time I cook (the meals average $50 to $100) and the entire rest of the three months, I pay nothing. It feels like somebody is taking care of me for all those other meals, and I love that feeling. (Also, it just seems silly to charge for our kids, 15 of which are under 10, because between them all, they usually eat a pound of pasta and 2 carrots. Sometimes they'll try the entrees, but usually we end up dumping plates full of their food into the compost bin.) A few people have expressed interest in changing this system - I have yet to be convinced of the advantages of bookkeeping and nickel and diming everyone to death. Most people I talk to don't have a problem with the current system. WE HAVE HIGH ATTENDANCE AND WE DON'T EVEN HAVE COMMON SPACE FOR SHARED MEALS I think the key to our success thus far has been first, that most of the people in our group really like to eat and to socialize together. We've been eating together for years, food has always been a part of meetings, dinners have always been a recruiting tool. The community dinners now are just continuing a tradition. Secondly, I believe that on some level, most of the neighbors accept that cooking is a right and responsibility of living here, that if people start dropping out of the cooking rotation, then the meals will eventually cease, or else community dinners will turn into dinner cliques. Everybody cooks regardless of how much other work they do in the neighborhood. Cooking connects us all together. Whether cooking is actually mandatory is still a question some of us (who care) are still debating. Most people, I believe, just view this as a system that is working for our neighborhood. So, most people feel a sense of ownership of the meals and come to the meals because they are entitled to eat there - they've done or soon will do their duty and host everyone else. Christine Della Maggiora Eno Commons Cohousing Durham, NC
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