chicken club, garden club
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 21:12:27 -0700 (PDT)
At RoseWind Cohousing, there are coming to be more "clubs." I'm not sure 
whether to be alarmed, as this is a sort of privatization vs communality, 
or just accept it as a practical approach to things that not everyone is 
interested in, but people don't object to as long as they don't have to 
pay for it. An example is our Chicken Club. 

Some interested members wanted to try raising chickens here. It was 
mid-year, and no budget for it had been included in January. So they 
proposed to
= use a common tool shed that we no longer needed for equipment
= use a piece of the common field
= bear all expenses of setting up a chicken yard, chicks, converting the 
shed to a coop, and any other chicken expenses
= share the cost and the work among Chicken Club members, who would also 
be the ones to get the eggs

The chickens now lay about 18 eggs a day. Each day of the week has a 
chicken club member, or is shared by two members who alternate, to 
collect the day's eggs, check that everything is OK, and close the door 
behind them at night. 

The original proposal was that at year end, we would evaluate this "pilot 
project" and decide whether or not we as a community wanted to run a 
chicken and egg operation. But at that point the chicken club folks were 
adamant that it could never work any other way than as a club, said they 
wouldn't propose it as a communal project. Without the cooperation of the 
club members, it couldn't productively be discussed, and defaulted to the 
club continuing. As another year end approaches, some of us again wish it 
to be less "private". 

Am I too utopian, to be concerned about this? I do a lot of work for the 
group, without any tangible "take-home" goodies. The chicken (and garden) 
club members do work for which they get produce. And the work they do of 
course lessens the time they have to do other tasks. We had one family 
who withdrew from all committees, meals, meetings, and ONLY did garden 
and chicken club work, for which they got produce and eggs. It didn't 
feel right to me. Why shouldn't their work in the garden or chicken yard 
count into the same pool as my  work marketing resales or the treasurer's 
work balancing the books? They benefit from our work, shouldn't we 
benefit from theirs? 

The garden club works like a 10-family CSA - they put in money, pay for 
some work and coordinating by a neighbor farmer, and share the produce. I 
feel like I would be stealing to go pull a beet. Though it's on common 
land, inside a big deer fence that was built with common funds and common 
labor. I'd always hoped we'd have a community vegetable garden, and that 
would just be some people's job here, and we'd all share in the food. 
They point out that anyone can join the garden club. 

Can anyone tell us about how the club approach did or didn't build 
community (or at least not erode it?) at your place?

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature) (very active peace movement here- see our 

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