Re: How many people for common meal...
From: juniperjojo (
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2006 11:59:55 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks for clarifying the situation about the full range of options at Songaia. 
 From emails I had read, it sounded to me as if there was only one "choice."  A 
few months back I remember reading an email from someone expressing great 
unhappiness about the withdrawal of the one family who no longer participate 
fully at Songaia, so I understood that the choice to be full participation or 
Having the option of paying by the meal, or having a pantry-only option sound 
like great alternatives for folks (like me) who probably wouldn't benefit from 
full participation for which they'd have to pay the monthly flat fee.  And it 
certainly simplifies things for the accountants!
Great Oak Cohousing
Ann Arbor, Michigan


Message: 3
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 10:21:26 -0700
From: "Craig Ragland" <craigragland [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ how many people for common meal...
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
    <3d048fc40608121021h2a9d8dc5gad7aca6608ddb43a [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Before assuming that you would resent having to pay a flat monthly fee, you
may want to better understand what we offer ourselves.

Full participants in the Songaia food program receive up to 5 common meals
per week PLUS they can freely draw all the food they need out of our common
pantry. This shared, common pantry has more than 100 items plus lots of
spices/teas). So while you may not be able to eat a common meal, you may
well still enjoy a Songaia meal prepared with food from the common pantry.

If full participation doesn't work for members, they can use a pantry-only
option, in which they draw from the pantry and do not participate in common
meals - the cost of this option is tuned to your level of consumption

and/or - members can pay $4/meal for adults or $2/meal for kids.

So, people can choose which forms of participation they want. Given that you
would only pay for the full, $97.50 option if you felt you received the
greatest value from that option, you are unlikely to resent that CHOICE.

I think Doug (from Songaia) was recommending the Flat Fee as a model for a
newly forming community looking to establish a strong community. This was
how we operated for many years before we added the Pantry-only option this
year in response to a family who decided they didn't want to participate in
our common meals.

I'm very clear that what Songaia does is not for every cohousing community.
We are blessed by abundance here in many ways, including high storage
capacities, which could easily be expanded. We also have great depth in
community experience, with members that are deeply engaged in the
movement... we're hosting both the upcoming FIC Organizational and the next
Coho/US Board Face-to-Face meetings. We also produce some of our own food
and may expand our local production as we continue to deepen our engagement
with our land. I wouldn't be surprised to see us host a CSA at some point.

In Community, Craig
(who made & served Songaia Plum and Apple Sauces at breakfast this morning)

On 8/11/06, juniperjojo [at] <juniperjojo [at]> wrote:
> I know every community (just like every child) is different, and what
> works for one may not work for another.  But as a person who dearly loves my
> cohousing community (most of the time, anyway), but who for logistical
> reasons attends very few common meals, I would resent the hell out of having
> to pay a flat monthly fee for meals and would instead drop out, rather than
> pay what sounds to me like a lot of money for meals I would never eat.  And
> then my son and I would miss out on what is often a fun part of our day,
> I would advocate for, and far prefer, the pay-as-you-go sign-up system,
> unless everyone's circumstances are more or less the same.  But requiring
> that one pay a monthly flat fee, or not participate, seems kind of
> harsh.  (Can't afford to pay $98/month for two meals?  Too bad!  We don't
> want you in our meals program, anyway!)
> The Songaia meals program sounds a lot like what we used to do in the ICC
> co-ops when I was in college (lo these many years ago).  I was a cook and a
> buyer for two years.  This system worked well (usually) because we planned
> meals a month in advance and the buyers ordered all of the food, and we not
> only had a large (industrial) refrigerator but we had access to local
> produce and other delivery services.  I can't imagine this working in our
> (Great Oak's) common house kitchen.  We opted -- at the architect's advice
> -- for a *very* small refrigerator, and we don't have a lot of dry food
> storage room, either.  I suppose we could add daily food buyers to the work
> system, if we start having problems finding enough volunteers to be head
> cook/meal planner/buyer.
> If you have a spacious, well-designed kitchen with room for a large
> refrigerator, though, this could be a great solution.  It certainly takes a
> lot of the pressure off of the head cooks, a position I have never asked to
> do chiefly because I don't want (and don't have time) to plan a menu, shop
> for the food, and cook for that many people.


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