Re: Question about "dining clubs"
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2013 06:37:35 -0700 (PDT)
We have a strong meals program and people need to ask the group before 
scheduling an event that overlaps with that program... that is, it cant be at 
the regularly scheduled times for meals, even if those meals aren't on the 
calendar yet, unless you ask the group...

Therefore, our challenge is not the same as yours. That is, the private stuff 
that happens here doesn't block our meals program (although some folk who 
engage in private events don't come to many meals).

We have some of our parents--not all are invited--doing a regular potluck. I 
don't know who is invited or how you get on the invite list, nor, if I were to 
ask, if I'd be allowed in.

We have a "chicken club" that you have to pay to join. (They raise chickens for 
the eggs.) For a while they were using the community email list to advertise 
chicken club activities, and not mentioning it was a private group. That 
totally annoyed me and I asked that it stop.

But in general, I think that we need to think about HOW to have private 
functions rather than IF we can have private functions. 

I don't want to live in a community that makes it so I can't sometimes meet 
with only my closest group of friends.
AND I don't ever want to be in a situation where a person has to stumble on 
that not knowing. So I wish for signs that announce PRIVATE EVENT other 
strategies to make it clear what is going on.
I wish for an environment that is not SECRET even if sometimes everyone is not 

Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe it is not possible.

***Three homes remaining! $173,000***

On Sep 13, 2013, at 5:33 PM, Jennifer Taub <jennifer.taub [at]> wrote:

> In addition to our community meals program (small, but seems to be working
> ok), we have two "dining clubs" that have formed. Each group is "closed" -
> members started on their own and have never opened the group up to new
> households. One of the groups started because we did not have a good
> community meals program at the time, and they wanted to eat more meals
> together. The other group formed much more recently, and is comprised
> mostly of younger families who recently moved in close together (although
> not exclusively). They follow this structure:
>   -
>   - 4-5 households belong
>   - Each household takes a turn cooking each week for the group
>   - No money changes hands
>   - Eating is in community spaces
>   - One of the groups has publicly invited others to join in via bringing
>   their own meals, the other group has not
> As we work to pull together more full community meals, these arrangements
> have three drawbacks:
> 1) Those who most enjoy cooking and eating together aren't available
> 2) The community's common space is in use (some of it)
> 3) Hurt feelings by those who are left out. Each group formed amongst
> themselves - neither was done openly.
> Our community is split on the issue. Those in the clubs, of course, love
> them. They enjoy the intimacy of the smaller group, find cooking meals for
> a more limited group far less intimidating, and some folks like that no
> money changes hands. Those who have more means will buy pricier
> ingredients, those with less means will cook more simply on their nights.
> Some other cohousers really enjoy being able to dine together bringing
> their own food (especially those with various dietary restrictions who
> often find the community meals won't work for them anyway).
> Those who were not asked to participate in the clubs and who find it
> impractical to prepare their own meals in time to bring their own food feel
> left out.
> As someone who has been working on and off for eight years to pull together
> community meals programs, I find these efforts really frustrating as I feel
> they "siphon off" energy for the community wide program. But when I bring
> it up I think folks think I just have "sour grapes" (that is true, too)
> because I have never been able to participate (despite asking if I can
> join). Our most recent retreat revealed that others also have hurt
> feelings. So it is tough for me on both these levels.
> My questions to this list are:
> 1) Does your community have anything like this? If so, how has it worked?
> How have you dealt with the resulting challenges?
> 2) What are your thoughts and opinions about such groups within the
> cohousing structure?
> 3) Are there any suggestions about how to divert that "meal energy" back
> towards the greater community?
> Thank you in advance, Jennifer Taub, Jamaica Plain Cohousing (Boston, MA)
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