Re: Sustainability of community service
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:04:42 -0700 (PDT)
I suspect that in communities which function well in the sense that many people experience high level of contentment, and where the level of unresolved/mismanaged conflict isn't too high, people tend to volunteer more and enjoy more contributing
to the community.
I know that at times that I feel really good about living here, I'm more likely to take on more responsibilities. At times that I feel bedraggled because what of what I perceive as endless bickering and lack of good will, I tend to shift my energies towards other
I'd love to hear comments from others, exploring the relationship between the level of satisfaction people experience in the community, and the level of willingness to
contribute time and energy.

(Sonora Cohousing, Tucson AZ)

On Jul 24, 2008, at 9:19 AM, Rob Sandelin wrote:

Patty Mara Gourley brought up an excellent thread about how sustainable
community service is given the rest of our lives. The time required to give
service to your community is in many cases larger than many people are
comfortable with.  Burn out can happen if you let it.

The other day I was noticing in my community that an awful lot of things have gotten done without me. The commonhouse got painted while I was on
vacation.  The patio got scrubbed, sealed and sanded while I was doing
family events offsite. A whole herd of kids got shepherded off to a water
park. And I did not do any of this. Yet it still happened somehow.

While attending a dinner party, which I did not plan or clean up much from, I talked to some of the people who had been involved in the things that have
been happening.  Far from being burnt out or discouraged, they were
delighted and happy to have been able to get those things done. I have come to believe that in my community, once you live here awhile, you choose where to apply your energy and time, and most people seem to choose to do things which gives them enjoyment. Our childcare is provided by a loving mom who absolutely loves kids, all of them. Our gardeners love to garden, sometimes spending extraordinary time fussing in the community garden. I love the woods and it is my joy to keep the trails clear. Others apparently love to
paint, and take care of things.

From time to time, tasks arise for which their seems to be little
enthusasiam. So we tend to hire these out or ask for contributions of money instead of labor. We are about to build a greenhouse and there are several work parties scheduled. Some people have already donated money, others have committed time. There is both enough time and money to do the project and so nobody is held accountable if they choose not to participate. I think this philosophy has served Sharingwood well, generally people show up who want to and those who do not do other things at other times and it all works out. Sometimes if things that need doing do not get done we bring it up at our meeting and figure it out, but this is rare anymore. Stuff gets done,
and people seem to be feeling good about it.

So on a personal level, I never waste my time worrying about who is NOT
there, but rather enjoying who is, knowing that in many cases, I am not
there and people are not worried about my absence.

Rob Sandelin
17 years at
Sharingwood Cohousing
Snohomish County, WA

Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.