Re: Getting The Work Done
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2012 10:08:06 -0800 (PST)
On Nov 12, 2012, at 10:59 AM, Thomas Lofft <tlofft [at]> wrote:

> Often what works best is leadership.It may only take one concerned resident 
> stepping forward with initiative to engage another resident to obtain a 
> mutual commitment, then each engage another member each with the simple 
> personal face to face request that 'we would like to get this done... will 
> you help us?'It worked in Liberty Village yesterday and six residents, owners 
> and renters, showed up to load two volunteered trailers with yard debris and 
> tree prunings to take them to the yard waste recycling center and in three 
> hours the job was done. 

For this kind of task it works very well. The task is clearly defined, time 
limited, and doesn't require community approval. We do these kinds of tasks on 
workdays, which have been very successful. We make a list and people choose 
which task they want to work on. Someone is there to provide instructions if 
necessary. Someone buys any necessary supplies the day before.

But for tasks that require research, solution design, and approval. the process 
is very long and the same people take these on over and over. I have at least 6 
on my plate at the moment. Yes, they are things I wanted to do but I'm stalled 
at needing someone else to do this or that that they said they wanted to do or 
at a decision point that no one wants to cross. 

I also find that when I have done a big task, I own it forever. People become 
identified with the dishwasher, the weeding, etc., and become the responsible 
decision-maker and  motivator of others. This builds up over  time until a 
leader type person is overwhelmed. Finding someone else to take over rarely 

The busy people are busy and the non-busy people have excuses. "I work 
full-time." "I have children." "I'm a single parent." Pointing out that other 
busy people also have these constraints doesn't move the mountain.

Advice to new communities, be very clear from the beginning how much work is 
required. Attendance at membership and team meetings is required. Meal 
participation is required (If it is). 

A lovely way to avoid work is to avoid knowing it needs to be done. Avoiding 
meetings is a great way to remain ignorant. Ignorance is bliss -- except for 
those who are not ignorant.

If cohousing is going to be cohousing, what is it going to be? Increasingly 
ordinary condos are adopting the features of cohousing. How far can each go 
until they meet in the middle? Is that what we want?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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