Re: Question about "dining clubs"
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 11:27:11 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Joanie,
I guess we assign different connotations to the word "sacrifice".  If I give 
freely and lovingly, then it's not sacrifice, as far a I'm concerned.  
Sometimes I might see it as an investment...  I'm giving a lot now, because I 
can, and later someone else will (hopefully) give when I can't or won't.
So, living in community requires giving, but actually giving that feels like 
"sacrifice" often breeds resentment, as well as a feeling that we deserve some 
special privileges, because we give/sacrifice more than others.  Is there any 
of us who can't immediately conjure up an image of such people??

I've always felt that communities with self awareness should limit giving by 
individuals, for the purpose of balancing to some extent power issues, but also 
so that people who come across as resentful because they view themselves as 
giving so much (or too much) should be encouraged (or even made to) give less.

On Sep 17, 2013, at 8:51 AM, Joanie Connors wrote:

> A comment about the idea of "sacrifice" as asking too much, that only
> nationalistic entities ask you to sacrifice for the greater good.
> Every relationship requires sacrifice - whether it be a child, a spouse, a
> sibling, a good friend, we sometimes give time, resources, sleep, to make
> sure they get what they need and feel supported.
> Every community requires sacrifice, whether it be picking up litter,
> cleaning the kitchen, volunteering for blood drives, helping with
> elections, and so on. It's not a bureaucratic demand, it's a necessity that
> we all contribute.
> Relationships and community give to us, so we need to give back. They
> cannot survive without us giving of ourselves, not mindlessly, but with an
> eye to talents, resources and needs.
> If you benefit from living in community, the well-being of that community
> should matter. Giving back may require a sacrifice.
> On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM, Sharon Villines
> <sharon [at]>wrote:
>> On Sep 17, 2013, at 9:48 AM, Racheli Gai <racheli [at]>
>> wrote:
>>> Assuming that community-wide common meals are a benefit for all is
>> assuming that we're all the same, and that our needs are all the same.  For
>> some, getting together with whoever shows up is fine.  For others, this
>> isn't the case, and one of the benefits of cohousing, IMO,  is that it
>> affords other options.  I can get together with some of the people I really
>> care to hang out with and have a meal.  Common meals always seemed to be a
>> noisy and hurried affair to me, and at this point in my life I prefer to
>> hang out with the people I have deeper relationships with, have real
>> conversations, ...
>> The problem, I think, is the on and on with the same people in a place
>> where you are clearly visible or known to be meeting whether it is the
>> common house or not. And that people have to "ask" to join. The idea that
>> they have to ask, already signals an exclusive group.
>> Did you ever send invitations to everyone when there was an opening? If
>> you didn't, that is another signal that some people, at least, are not even
>> invited to join.
>> Exclusion except on the basis of interest is an arrow in the heart of a
>> community.
>> We had this problem when our Soup and Simple group started on Monday
>> nights. Even though the group was open to anyone who wanted to sign up for
>> a cook team in the rotation, only those people who could eat the food that
>> the other people cooked--totally high carb--could join. Only those who
>> could eat or cook on Mondays could join. Only those who wanted to accept
>> the terms of the meal could join.
>> Because the Monday night dinners existed, all other meals stopped. The
>> people who wanted to cook cooked on Mondays. There was no core enthusiasm
>> left to initiate meals at another time. It was siphoned off.
>> The night chosen was also the night almost all of  our teams and the board
>> meet on rotating Mondays. The meal interferes with people being on time for
>> meetings, limits meeting places because the dishwasher running and the
>> people talking in the kitchen make it impossible to meet in a corner of the
>> dining room.
>> Then the core group did unintentionally become a "cabal,"  but since they
>> talked together for at least an hour every week, they talked out issues
>> amongst themselves and had common understandings when they worked on teams
>> and in meetings. It was like a single person trying to negotiate with a
>> couple -- it's two against one. In this case 30 against a few. The group
>> reinforces each other's sense of reality. Even the definitions of topic
>> needing discussion.
>> I had a heated conversation with a member once who insisted we had
>> discussed an issue in a membership meeting and agreed to a certain action.
>> "WE AGREED!" The topic had never even been on the agenda. He finally
>> realized that the "community meeting" he was remembering was the Monday
>> night dinner. It had become "the" community meeting for a lot of people. He
>> also believed that Membership Meetings were only for actual proposals and
>> decisions. Discussion should happen elsewhere. See any relationship here?
>> Over time that group has been smaller and less stable. Not meeting in the
>> summer. A small group in the late spring. Changing members in the winter.
>> So they are less of a defined group and less of a dominate force.
>> I'm sure the members of the group don't see themselves as a group or as a
>> cabal but if it had continued we would have had to do something to change
>> it. That doesn't mean eliminating the group but making some changes.
>> Perhaps having Monday meals only from January to June, or September through
>> November and Jan to May. Or Mondays in the fall and Fridays in the spring.
>> Or low carb in the fall and rice, beans, bread, salad, and sugar in the
>> spring.
>> Sharon
>> ----
>> Sharon Villines
>> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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