The value of work
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 09:32:01 -0600 (MDT)
Hi Sharon,  you wrote (in part):
>People so need to have the choice -- some would prefer to do the work
>they are already doing and pay more rather than do workshare. Artists,
>writers, social activists, even Wall Street traders do actually like (and
>perhaps need) to spend long hours doing what they are doing. They aren't
>just sitting around in lounge chairs watching others work.

One point which keeps coming up for me is: Why are people who don't want
to give any of their time to the community in cohousing in the first
As an activist - I see the work I do in cohousing as part of my activism.
(For quite a few years it was a major part of my activism).   If we allow
people to give money instead of doing work, the shitwork will be done by
those who can't afford to pay.  This will mirror, of course, what happens
in our society at large.  It will create a two- tier system within the
community, something which IMO is highly undesirable. I also think that
doing work (as opposed to paying someone to do it) creates a different
relationship between the person and his/her surroundings and community:
Work has a value other than accomplishing a simple end  result: it creates
attachment, caring, gives opportunities to bond with co-workers  etc. 
These are *at least* as important as the more tangible "product",  and are
probably a lot more important to the well-being of the community.

> Over several years I
>have reduced my income needs to minimal level so I do not have to
>maintain a day job. I still work more hours in a day than many people do
>but it is work that is not measured against how much money I can get for
>it. I feel very rich. And it allows me to donate more time than others to
>community projects. If others can contribute more money than I am "able"
>to, that works to all our benefits.

I guess I disagree with you regarding how it benefits everyone - unless
those who donate more money also do some work...  I don't advocate that
everyone should do the same amount of work, or give the same amount of
money. I am against having some people pay so that they don't have to do 
any work.

>> If being able to include some lower-means folks doesn't matter to you, then
>> by all means, develop your gated cohousing community with sprawling houses,
>> bigger garages, an Olympic pool and banquet facilities, music studios, etc.
>> in the common house. Hey, it will still be more environmentally friendly if
>> you can share these amenities instead of each family having its own! But
>> have fun getting all your upscalers to agree on whose "needs" will become
>> community priorities.

>"Sprawling houses" is changing the subject again, as well as introducing
>emotion laded rhetoric. But that aside, this brings up another point. Do
>you help people who have lower incomes (by choice or otherwise) by
>limiting everyone in the community to their means, or do you share the
>wealth of others, voluntarily, by allowing those with more means to
>contribute it to the community?

In fairness, I think that David's references were based for the most part
on examples  that you provided.
It also seems to me that the people who feel so "limited" by having less
things might overvalue amenities, and undervalue the potential richness
which can come from having less, and doing more.
This isn't to say that some things aren't useful and even wonderful.  But
it's easy to get into the mindset (or hard to get out of it)  according to
which more is always better.

>Both money and time should be voluntary. But in valuing only workshare
>(time) one is excluding those who wish to use their time in other ways
>and contribute to the economic needs of the community. In fact, giving
>time is an economic choice since much of the time one gives would
>otherwise be hired out.

"GIVING TIME IS AN ECONOMIC CHOICE" - I think that that's where, to a
large degree, our differences lie: Giving time *is* an economic choice,
but  it can't be reduced to an economic choice only.  - Giving time has
much much significance and meaning beyond its economic value (which I
attempted to touch on a little above).  



Cohousing-L mailing list
Cohousing-L [at]  Unsubscribe  and other info:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.