Re: Common Meals
From: Mac & Sandy Thomson (
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 15:11:04 -0700 (MST)
Michael D wrote:

> Has anyone tried hiring people to prepare, serve, and clean up after
> common meals - like a private one-meal restaurant?
> If anyone has tried it, how much did it cost per person?  What
> advantages and disadvantages did you experience from it?
> If you haven't tried it, what advantages and disadvantages do you
> imagine from doing it that way?

Here at Heartwood Cohousing, we've done this a couple of times.  It's
our monthly adults only, catered, gourmet dinner, complete with nice
table cloths, candles, and soft music.  (Our common house is only about
a year old so we're still experimenting a lot.)  The cost is $12 per
person which covers the food and compensation for the cook(s).  We've
probably averaged about 25 diners per meal.

Because we're a rural community, one of the big advantages is we can get
a very good dinner without having to drive for a half hour each way to
the 'big city' and the cost of the meal is only about half what it would
be in a restaurant.

So far it's been a big success, but I'm not sure if we need them as
frequently as once per month.  Maybe once every other month would be

> Another option: Has anyone tried making cooking, serving, and cleaning
> up after common meals one of the jobs people take on for the benefit of
> the community?  So, in other words, some people take care of the lawn
> and plants, some clean the common house, some do the financial work, and
> some handle the meals. That way people who like meal preparation do that
> and those that prefer some other contribution do that instead.
> What advantages and disadvantages have you experienced or do you imagine
> from doing it that way?

All of our jobs are completely voluntary so people sign up for what they
like.  We have strong expectations that everyone pitch in, but there are
no quotas, per se.  I think we have the normal amount of "fairness
friction" -- "Am I doing too much, too little?", "Is he/she doing too
much, too little?", but I think generally folks here are good about
recognizing that there is no such thing as a 'fair' system of community
work distribution and feeling good about their contribution and
others'.  The big advantage of this system is that it expects the most
of people and they tend to rise to the occasion.  That makes for good
community energy.  People also feel good about not being told what to do
and getting to work where and when they want to.

- Mac
           Mac & Sandy Thomson           Heartwood Cohousing
           ganesh [at]                Durango, Colorado
        Web Site:

Everything in excess!!  To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites! 
Moderation is for monks.
           - Robert Heinlein
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