Re: Mandatory cooking cautionary note
From: Elizabeth Stevenson (
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 10:47:01 -0600 (MDT)
If I could take each one of you and shake you by the shoulders until you 
listen to this, I would. it is the most important thing I can say on this

I would suggest that mandatory cooking be discussed and agreed upon very
early in the process, before just about everything, so that new members come
in with an understanding that it is a given. Also, there are other reasons
cooking is unpopular other than it being required.

I have visited a community where the mandatory cooking is resented. I
believe the reason why is not that it is mandatory, but that their system is
seriously flawed. Two people is not enough to make a happy cook team. IT
you're exhausted after the meal, and dread cooking instead of looking
forward to it. Many communities seem to think that cooking is a necessary
evil. It can be so much easier!

We have mandatory cooking, and it really is not a burden at all. We have
mostly three person cook teams that stay together during a whole quarter at
least, and sometimes stay together for years. That way people can find
others whose schedules complement their own, and the chores can be divided
equitably. Often, someone with time during the day will pair with others who
don't mind doing the shopping or can do most of the clean-up. It is far less
stressful to cook with those who have a working relationship with you than
different people every month!!!

We don't have scheduled times when people can cook. They choose their own
dates and day of the week. We discourage cooking on Saturday, so that we can
have more meals during the week. Some weeks we have one or two meals, and
others we have a meal almost every night, but most of the time it works out
to three or so a week, which is great.

I have said this many times, so sorry to old-timers for repeating myself.
Cooking and eating meals together is essential to building community. I know
people will disagree, but it amazes me that people consistently choose to
forgo mandatory cooking when it can be so positive for the community. I
think it's insane to spend years of your life building your dream, then
throw it away by not utilizing the commonhouse, just because you need to
revamp your cooking system. It does work!!! Stop reinventing the wheel and
look at the communities where a mandatory cooking system can be copied.

(Aside) Interesting to find out about that email moniker after all this
time, Rob!

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, California

tamgoddess [at]

>From: "Rob Sandelin" <floriferous [at]>
>To: <cohousing-l [at]>
>Subject: [C-L]_Mandatory cooking cautionary note
>Date: Sun, Apr 15, 2001, 12:02 AM

> 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)
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