Re: How do we hold each other accountable?
From: Greg Nelson (
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2010 05:25:48 -0700 (PDT)
A little late in responding here, but I agree with Kathleen Walsh:

> Don't folks who join know the expectations?  [...]  What erodes the 
> sense of community are people who don't participate, don't acknowledge 
> the commitment they made upon joining, and don't  problem-solve if they 
> need to, but just assume they are exempt from participation for whatever 
> reason seems reasonable to them.

If I was living in a traditional neighborhood, I wouldn't hold out a
bunch of expectations for what my neighbors do or don't spend their
time on, or how helpful we are to each other.  But since I *do* live
in co-housing, I feel I have some reason to expect my neighbors (and
myself) to participate in those community projects that arise.

I think my community is very fortunate in this respect.  All of the
people who are living there right now seem to feel a "reasonable"
level of commitment to "community service."  When there is a fence to
be mended or a bus shelter to be built, people do chip in.  And we
also understand if someone can't make it today because they're on
child-care duty -- for their own kids, or someone else's -- because we
agreed early on that this was a service to the community as well.

However, we have also considered a pay-for-absence approach, and have
the advantage of considering an approach to this that is somewhat
unconventional.  Because we have a local currency called "Ithaca
Hours," we have talked about the idea of matching an hour of community
work to an Ithaca Hour.  This has several implications:

* It is easier to do give-and-take within the community, because no
  one gets their salaries paid in Ithaca Hours.  People who work
  overtime one month can use the surplus to tak a break the next

* There is an existing mindset in the larger Ithaca community that
  "time is money" (that is printed on the bills), but in a pleasant
  sort of "bartering" sense -- I'll trade you some time if you'll
  trade me some time (or veggies, or bicycle repair, or...)

* It encourages local commerce by paying people in a form that can
  only be spent locally.  (We would also be able to accept Ithaca
  Hours from others at our farm stand, etc. if we had an internal use
  for them.)

I know other communities have used "internal" currencies for this
purpose; we're just lucky to have one available that is meaningful
outside of our 120 acres but still has a good "locality" property.

Greg Nelson                     email:  ghn [at]
White Hawk Ecovillage           phone:  607-273-2576
Ithaca, NY 14850                web:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.