Re: Diversity in Cohousing
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 14:43:05 -0600 (MDT)
> Sharon, if people don't have the time to do the "chores" why in the
> world are they living in co-housing? jp

If you don't have time to vacuum and polish your car every day, why in the
world do you own one?  If your two-year-old isn't signed up for violin
lessons, why did you have kids?

Try, the chores aren't the reason people join cohousing.

Some chores arise out of the definition of cohousing.  Resident control is a
lot of work. Getting everybody to agree on things is even more.  However,
new prospects don't have experience with those things, they don't anticipate
the workload, and they aren't always warned by older more experienced

A lot (most?) of the chores aren't part of the definition at all, they are
the result of some of the sociopolitical baggage people attracted to
cohousing tend to bring with them. Each group coalesces around some
ideological point enough members feel comfortable with -- but there will
always in every group be people who are tugged further than they really want
to go, or pulled back from where they feel is right.

Case in point:  Nobody ever brought a proposal about recycling, it just got
assumed that *of course* everybody in the community felt the same way the
couple of people who set up the recycling center did, and so taking the
recycling to the recyclers got added to the monthly work team's jobs.  When
the job proved unpleasant and difficult, the community hired somebody to do
it, at $50/month (!).  Personally I disagreed with both approaches, but I
didn't have the nerve to kick.  So un-PC, saying that you feel the way
recycling is done is itself a waste of resources.  (That's a whole 'nuther

Or chores can arise out of constraints -- for instance, we hold down monthly
assessments because of our low-income members (at least, that's the
excuse -- go figure why that justifies high-income members living in houses
twice the size, paying the same amount).  So we don't have a big budget.  So
we hesitate to hire work done.  So we end up moving tons of dirt by hand
when we ought to hire a bobcat.

Not everybody has the same amount of money they can spare to community
assessments.  Not everybody has the same amount of time they can spare to
community work.

At Wasatch Commons, we require the same amount of money from every
household.  We keep track of who pays.  There are penalties for not paying.
It wouldn't be "fair" to do it differently.

There are only vague guidelines for how much community work we expect.
Nobody keeps track.  There aren't any consequences for not doing it.  It
wouldn't be "fair" to do it differently.

That feels like we value money a lot more than work.  It feels pretty
disrespectful to the people who are more able or more inclined to provide
work than money.


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