Re: Work or pay
From: R.N. Johnson (
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2008 16:46:30 -0700 (PDT)

--- On Mon, 7/14/08, cohousing-l-request [at] 
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From: cohousing-l-request [at] <cohousing-l-request [at]>
Subject: Cohousing-L Digest, Vol 54, Issue 18
To: cohousing-l [at]
Date: Monday, July 14, 2008, 12:05 PM

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We have a work or pay system that is working pretty well.  A couple of 
households decided of their own accord to pay someone to do their 4 hours a 
month of work party time, because of injury in one case, and lack of time in 
the other.  The idea caught on and now most households who cannot do their work 
hours for a particular month pay instead.  It is not formalized, and at least 
one person who almost never does his hours does not pay, but I would say 80% of 
our members either make up their hours at another time or pay to have them 
done. The pay system has worked well for us because we have a lot of people, 
myself included, who have some physical limitations, and so we have been able 
to hire "muscle" for the heavier tasks.  Two of the people that are usually 
hired are unofficial community members who helped about half of us move in, 
baby sit a member's child, come to parties, etc.... This has made it easy to 
schedule.  One complication is that
 sometimes they are show up, and no one has remembered to tell the work party 
straw boss to expect them, so we waste some time getting them set up for tasks. 
We have tried to formalize some way of tracking work hours, but none of them 
has really worked well.  What makes our work or pay system work is that the 
non-working member is responsible for scheduling the paid hours, and we 
encourage scheduling your replacement to come during the work party, so that 
someone is around to let know what needs doing, and so that people witness that 
the hours were taken care of one way or another. I was personally against the 
pay system, because I was afraid it would diminish people's commitment to 
working in common, and not be fair to people who don't have the money to pay.  
In practice, I think it has worked out to strengthen our community commitment, 
by providing us with stronger backs to do the tasks that were intimidating to 
some of us, and by providing another
 option for people who are overwhelmed, on vacation etc... The class objection 
is a reality, but since no one is required to pay, has not created a major 
issue. Randa JohnsonNew Brighton CohousingAptos, CA

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