Re: Workshare
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2013 11:54:57 -0800 (PST)
On Feb 3, 2013, at 2:14 PM, Jenny Guy <jenstermeister [at]> wrote:

> We made the decision to give people with young children a break in an
> (unsuccessful)
> attempt to attract people with kids. Personally, I'm fine with being part
> of a... what's the phrase... de-facto senior cohousing, but some of our
> members really long to have the little ones around, and I'm fine with that,
> too.

If your experience is anything like ours, the kids and families show up toward 
the end after move in. The younger the children, the less time parents have to 
"iffy" ventures like cohousing. We had so many children at one point that some 
of us were in fear that one household with 3 under 6 was actually going to 
purchase a unit. We had more than 1/3 of our residents under 12 and it was 
overwhelming. We had only 4 in our pre-move in phase.

One key, which has been discussed here many times, is to include a playground 
area and a kids room in the common house. Don't plan these for when you have 
the money. Even building the playground as soon as you have the property. When 
parents and potential parents see that, they know that children are really 
welcome and the community will have a resource they need. We had a number of 
people who moved here because they were ready to have children and many did 1-2 
years in. (Several adopted.)

As wonderful as it can be to have them around, children are also extra work, 
money, and stress for the community. We pay sitters for membership meetings, 
for example, and buy things for kid's use that are not added only to the condo 
fees of parents. They also cause conflict over their behavior. Should they be 
allowed to jump on the furniture or run around the room during meals? How young 
can a child be allowed out with no supervision? Whose responsibility is it to 
watch that child? 

So breaks for parents do add up. The burden will already be big.

> So, should the sweat equity be by household, since investment is by
> household? We could break the 20 hours up into 10 hours of community
> activities (meals, meetings) and 10 hours of property management, and say
> property management is by household...

This is a hard issue. At one point I had given up on this one because we had 
households in which one person was very interested in living in cohousing and 
the other was not at all. Pressure on the uninterested would have resulted in 
neither being in cohousing. And the one who was interested was usually a very 
active member of the community if only to ensure that it was a good place and 
justified their interest.

Over time, almost all of these households have balanced out. The reluctant 
member has become much more active. And in some cases, they reversed their 
roles. After move-in, things change.

Allowing people to work for others, meaning donate hours, can relieve this a 
bit. Also consider what are the hours for. Usually they are for things that are 
unrelated to the size of the household and much more related to common elements 
that everyone either uses or profits from having. 

The common elements add to the commercial value of the houses and to the 
richness of the community. The hot tub is not used by very many people at all 
but when potential buyers are looking a the property, they are very impressed. 
I don't like watching the SuperBowl particularly, but I like watching the 
people who do like watching it. (They care so much about teams!) So having a 
big screen TV and a big dining room for them to gather in is a benefit for me. 

Each person has such things that are important to them. In the end, I think 
workshare should be per person.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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