From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 11:46:02 -0600 (MDT)

At RoseWind, I think Rob Sandelin's observations (Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 
22:52:49 -0700
Subject: [C-L]_Time expectations in cohousing) are exactly right on. I'm 
part of the 1/4 who typically do a more-than-average amount of 
community-related work, and I'm really clear that it's up to me to not 
burn out, to cut back when needed, to take responsibility for taking on 
the tasks I do. And with only 1/4 of the membership participating only 
minimally, there is still enough energy to get the jobs done. We have no 
official requirement for participation, but when people are looking at 
buying in, I phrase it as an "expectation" that each person will 
participate in the ways and amount that they can, with allowances for 
health, family, travel, and all that. 
Sharon's idea of a database to eventually get clear how much total work 
IS done (by whomever) is valuable information, though challenging to 
collect. Around here, any record keeping by individuals if very spotty. 
>I am willing to clean the common
>house when we become residents, or participate in work days, but I'm not
>sure that is the best use of the time I have to offer to any community.
>I certainly agree that participation in the community is fundamental to
>cohousing, though.

While there seems no harm in farming out some chores, there definitely 
are community benefits to shared work. A recent work party had members of 
15 households show up, and not only did we get a lot of extensions 
installed on our irrigation system (which could have been hired out) but 
we had many people-hours of conversation, cooperation, laughter, shared 
food and problem-solving. The 4 yr olds rode around with the tractor 
drivers, and "helped". I watched a toddler and supplied  playdough for 
the older ones till they fell into the thrall of the tractors. We all had 
a good time. AND got the job done for little money. AND we feel some 
ownership of the results: "we" did that. 

Money would have bought a lot of the work we did on our common house. But 
then I wouldn't have the same sense of appreciation for Nancy's mural, 
Gitte's colored glass medallions in the wall, Doug's arches, Sandra's 
benches, "our" stucco and plaster work, my woodwork in the kid room, Pat 
and Don's sofas, Wendell's oak table, Michael's tile work, etc etc. It's 
a physical manifestation of our cooperation. 

In a more subtle sense, I think we also take care of things better when 
they are our own. When there is no maid to clean it up, you are perhaps 
more conscious of the mess you make. 

A local person recently asked me, "How do you like the cohousing? Does it 
work for you?" I realized they were asking because their best friend here 
is someone who participates very little, and doesn't feel a lot of 
satisfaction. As I reported that it was excellent for me, I realized that 
this may be a case where the more you put in, the more you get. Within 
limits, of course. But participation does bring rewards. The more I do 
things with people, the more connections I have with them, the more 
relationship I have with them, the more mutual benefits. 
Acknowledgement is very important. I was once in a personal-development 
training where an elementary  exercise had a lot of very "together" 
adults in tears. It was this simple: sit in partners, facing; choose an A 
and a B. A say to B "I would like to be acknowledged for....." and B 
simply, and only, repeat it back to them, with eye contact, saying, "I 
acknowledge you for...." Some people said things like "for getting out of 
bed this morning" "for exercising for 15 minutes this morning " and 
others said stuff like "for surviving rape and assault and raising 9 
children single-handedly" or "for putting together a proposal that got a 
million dollars for a nonprofit". But however large or small the item 
might have seemed to an observer, for the speaker it was an emotional 
burden that it had felt insufficiently acknowledged. Even the 
utterly-mechanical feedback of "B" elicited release. Then B and A change 

I wish some time we could do a check in here where each person just said 
"I would like to be acknowledged for...." and got a round of applause.

But at least praise and acknowledge and thank whenever you can - it goes 
a long way towards cushioning the criticisms that come at other times, 
PS Four hours a month as an average contribution of time to the community 
seems a wild dream.   That's one committee meeting of two hours, in a 
month, plus 30 minutes a week of something else, which wouldn't go very 
far. Or cooking once a month, and nothing else. Or reading cohousing-L 
and nothing else? The good news is that you get a lot of value for your 
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