Re: Help with meals problem
From: Don Benson (
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2012 19:19:33 -0700 (PDT)

I hear your issue with people cooking and it prompts me to want to look deeper 
(or outside the box), before working the structural elements, at what might 
have changed over time, e.g.,
1.  are households or existing cook teams still finding their participation in 
the Meal activity to be positively contributing to the strengthening of the 
social bonds in the community and what could be done about that; or  
2.  have the mix of people or their lives have changed such that their 
availability to cook or attend is not the same?

Also look at other processes that could re-instill the excitement (fun, 
adventure, ?) in participation such as 
1.  a survey to discover the menu items that are attractive, to guide the 
cooks.  For example what are the entrees that when served tend to create the 
space for people to stay and engage with each other rather than eat and run;
2.  Create a community cookbook focusing on these menu items and suggest the 
cooks use them (easier to follow then trying to make a menu up each time);
3.  Reducing the frequency in the schedule to provide for a variety in peoples 
lives, e.g., moving to 3 times per week, perhaps one being a brunch on 
Saturday; or
4.  Invite a chef to create a theme menu, e.g. using wild items found in the 
neighborhood (thoughts of sustainability).

Don Benson

On Jul 27, 2012, at 10:20 PM, Laurie Friedman wrote:

> Help!   My cohousing community has 26 households, and about 50 adults.   We 
> have a policy expecting everyone to cook once per month, in groups of two or 
> more, and we have done pretty well for many years.   In the last couple of 
> years, thought, I have noticed a decline in the number of people cooking, and 
> currently we have very few meals.   We have a Meals Committee that has done 
> surveys, tried out different things (potlucks, etc.), but the number of meals 
> continues to decline.   Our participation in general is not as strong as it 
> could be.   Has anyone dealt with a meals issue as above, and what have they 
> done about it?
> I have a radical idea, which is to add $50 per month per adult to the monthly 
> dues, and people would get money back at the end of the year based on any 
> activity they have done that contributes to our community.   People would 
> have to keep rough track of what they do, and time spent.   I think it might 
> encourage participation, and reward those who are working.   Also, might 
> result in leftover funds, which we could use to reduce our monthly dues.   
> Any thoughts?   Sincerely,  Laurie Friedman
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