Re: Food Values
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 21:24:53 -0800 (PST)
As I reflect on Songaia's history, it strikes me how my relationship with
shared meals has shifted. During our pre-cohousing days, the 90's, we were
9-23 people sharing two houses, a trailer, and a yurt - with, at most, a few
kids but often just 1. Now we are 38 people who live in 15 units; families
of 1-5 people, including 12 kids.

Throughout the 90's, we lived and shared spaces with a cohousing vision
(realized in 2000). Like Tree's community today, we shared two kitchens,
though one of our kitchens was hardly usable. Songaia now has 15 private
kitchens, a large common house kitchen, and an outdoor kitchen.

Back in the 90's, I experienced cooking an individual (non-common) meal at
Songaia as being more chaotic and clumsy than cooking a shared meal. For
individual meals, others would often want to use the same kitchen, pots,
oven, stove, etc. to prepare other meals simultaneously.

Today, I experience cooking in our common house kitchen as more chaotic and
clumsy than using our private kitchen. The kitchen which Karly and I share,
in our home, is quiet, stable, and controlled. I can reach just about
everything in two steps and I hardly ever have to look for things. I usually
just rely on staples from our common pantry when cooking for the two of us.

In contrast, cooking in the common house is an adventure and requires more
commitment at every step. Our common house kitchen is often exuberant and
fun as people come through; home from school, work, meetings, etc. Its
large, with giant pots and pans - and cooking for 38 requires real menu
planning and attention.

I love sharing food and its clear that almost everyone else at Songaia does
as well. I do, however, deeply appreciate the calm, serene cooking
experience made possible by our private space. I also appreciate the
desire/need for people to avoid the stress that often comes from high energy
spaces. Part of what I find satisfying about the cohousing model is having
both options.

On 3/9/06, Tree Bressen <tree [at]> wrote:
> Hi,
> Rob S. wrote:
> >It's a bit unusual to expect every person in a cohousing community to
> >participate in a community meals system, in fact, as far as I know, its
> >unheard of. Perhaps you should rethink the expectation.
> Doesn't Doyle St. in Emeryville, CA (where Katie M. & Chuck D. used to
> live) have a requirement that everyone cooks?  My impression is that if a
> group wants to have that expectation they had better put it in place early
> in their development--by the time they have 3/4 of the future members
> coming to meetings it's too late to get everyone to agree to it.
> In my (non-cohousing) community ( everyone
> is
> required to cook and it's *wonderful!*  Our dinners, which happen 5 nights
> a week M-F, are one of the best things about living here.  Because we cook
> in teams, new members who sometimes believe they can't cook get plenty of
> support.  Even after 5+ years it continues to amaze me that i only have to
> cook once a week and then 4 nights a week i can show up at 6:15pm and
> there
> is food on the table.
> I also notice that when i have been feeling a bit frustrated toward one of
> my housemates, i feel grateful toward them for providing dinner and that
> feeling overflows into my general attitude toward the person, thus
> smoothing community relations.
> Cheers,
> --Tree
> -----------------------------------------------
> Tree Bressen
> 1680 Walnut St.
> Eugene, OR 97403
> (541) 484-1156
> tree [at]
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