Mandatory cooking cautionary note
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 23:08:04 -0600 (MDT)
I would caution those that  are considering mandatory cooking to evaluate
it at some point after trying it out. I have done work in cohousing groups
where RESENTMENT was huge over this. For some reason, these groups had no
process for evaluation and pressure relief, and so the RESENTMENT built up
until it exploded.

There is a very wide gap between joyous service to the community and
resented obligation. I think being happy and contributing because you want
to give service is a goal worth striving towards. There are methods to check
in with each other about personal happiness. Pay attention to this,
cultivate each others happiness, and you will have a much smoother ride down
the river of community.

Rob Sandelin
Community Works!
Floriferous [at]
(Floriferous is Latin for "many flowered", a name given to me by the
Snoqualmie tribe where I was once a teacher)

-----Original Message-----
From: cohousing-l-admin [at]
[mailto:cohousing-l-admin [at]]On Behalf Of Raines Cohen
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 8:58 AM
To: cohousing-L [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_seeking information about how cohousing communities
organize tasks to be done

"Kay Argyle" <argyle [at]> wrote on 4/10/01 10:54 PM:

>We've struggled with two dining issues in particular: finding a simple
>method, and getting enough people to sign up to cook/clean.

Our "keep it simple system" seems to be working out reasonably well,
after living here a year and doing common meals since last June.

background: 20 households, 31 adults (early 20s to 70+), 4 kids (2
infants, 2 teens)

Three common dinners a week (Mon, Tues, Thurs).

Everybody (adult) cooks. Every rotation.
  (it helps a lot that this was the assumption from the get-go)

Two-member teams do cooking AND cleanup. (with one 3-member team allowed
per rotation)

People sign up for slots in the five week rotation.

Some couples cook together; others split up.

Cooks post menu in advance, including veg option.

Diners sign up, based on date, chefs, and menu, and indicate veg/non-veg.

Chefs purchase ingredients based on # signed up.

If you sign up and don't eat, you still pay.

If you sign up for a late meal and don't get it within 24 hours, it's
fair game.

People raiding the CH fridge for leftovers (or the freezer for ice cream
bars that magically appear) are encouraged to contribute $; this raised
$500 last year! (in part thanks to chef overestimation of quantities,
since reduced but not eliminated)

If the chef feels you can be accomodated, you can sign up at the last
minute, but the chef can close sign-up 48 hours in advance in order to

Diners pay cost of meal divided by # signed up.

Chefs pay even for meals they cook, if they eat them.

Reconciliation is quarterly, for each person subtracting the amount they
spent on ingredients from their portion of the cost of meals they ate. A
simple spreadsheet does the math. Members either pay the extra tacked
onto dues or receive the difference as a credit.

I'd personally prefer:

A common brunch or something other than just dinners (there are
occasional informal things)

Something on fridays/weekends

Variation/alternation on the days of the week

Better cross-training / rotation to encourage couples to cook with others

Flexibility to allow use of "whatever looks good at the farmer's market

Easy ways to anonymously provide feedback to chefs & others about what
did/didn't work as well for diners


One homeowner doesn't like the smell of food so that person doesn't allow
the renter to cook in that unit, and both routinely sign up for late
plates at most common dinners.


We have yet to do a planned retrofit to improve accessibility of burners,

The electric convection ovens are still out of adjustment and don't
appear to reach the listed temperatures.

When we schedule HOA meetings after dinners, cleanup noise is hard to
talk over.

The rest of our committee work is not as formalized, and mandatory only
in the generic sense, so cooking is treated separately.


Raines Cohen <coho-L [at]> <>
Enjoying a week of working at home.

  Vice President, Swan's Market Cohousing [Old Oakland, CA]
Where our building is being nominated for the National Register!

  Member, East Bay Cohousing [no site yet] <>
Looking forward to recruitment at upcoming Earth Days.

  Boardmember, The Cohousing Network <>
Hosting the North American Cohousing Conference, July 20-22, Berkeley.

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