Re: Meal Participation Program
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2010 23:36:40 -0800 (PST)
I note a difference in our system here at RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA. We have no assigned meal "cleaners". Cooks often clean up as they go: my goal is generally to start the meal with no dirty prep dishes or areas. Maybe it's because our kitchen is laid out in a really handy way (thank you Mary Kraus). Also it's open to the dining room, so it feels rather continuous.

Our countertop commercial-type dishwasher is quick and easy: dirty dishes are brought to that counter, scraped into compost pot, silver plopped into one dishpan, plates piled by the other. A dish-washing person gives each plate a quick brush with soapy water and fills a rack, slides it into the wash part, and starts filling another rack. A few minutes later the clean dish rack can be slid out the other end, onto a steel counter which has room for two trays. Someone rolls in the dish cart from the dining room (where it was at the beginning of the serving line). On the bottom shelf of the dish cart is a tub with clean dish towels. The Corelle dishes almost dry themselves -- a quick swipe and they can get stacked back on the rolling cart.

The dishwasher is kind of fun to operate. The guys especially seem to like all that stainless steel, the big levers and steamy whooshing. Often a sequence of people run it. I may pop in early on, run the several racks of (easy) dinner plates, to get things going, and then go get my dessert and sit back down, knowing someone else will step in.

Besides the spray-table just described, there's also a regular double sink, where we hand wash wine glasses and odds and ends, and the triple pot sink, where big salad bowls, pans, etc get scrubbed.

At the end of the meal, some folks will still be sitting around talking, but many people will be pitching in to clean. Sweeping, collecting dishes, packing up leftovers, wiping tables and counters, drying dishes and putting them away. If there's a basket of clean kitchen laundry in the pantry, someone will plop it down at a table of talkers, who then fold towels and napkins and rags while they talk. So many people are doing clean up tasks, that it too becomes a social event with conversations continuing.

The buck stops with the cook(s), as far as checking at the end. Kitchen drain screens, trash and compost out, stuff put away. Maybe start a load of kitchen laundry in the pantry. I may come back the next morning to do a final check, put away some air-dried stuff like silverware or last dishes. But the vast majority of the cleaning will be done by the whole gang Monday night.

Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
Enjoying sunshine at least part of most days, despite occasional rain. People think it's rainy up here, but we only get 17" a year in this "rainshadow" area. Same as San Francisco. If you're getting flooded or snowed in, check out our two resales.....!

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