Common meals - mandatory participation?
From: Pat Elliott (
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:33:22 -0700 (PDT)
Hi everyone,

Until a recent community discussion about common meals, most of us had thought 
our common meals program was working fairly well after almost two years of 
living here. At that meeting, we learned, to the surprise of most of us, that 
for members of two or three households participating in the program is painful, 
if not traumatic, whether as members of cook teams or eating at common meals. 
They would like common meal participation to be completely voluntary, which 
means they won't participate at all, or at least that they receive a complete 
exemption. And possibly others will decide to do the same. We had a community 
agreement before moving in that called for mandatory participation on a cook 
team once a month. While I sometimes have to nudge folks, generally all have 
complied except when folks are gone, ill, or otherwise unable to participate. 
We are a senior, retired community so there is lots of traveling, etc. Nudging 
would be difficult, or at least useless, with a completely voluntary program, I 
fear, leading to a breakdown or serious diminishment of the program. Many, if 
not most (though clearly not all) of us, agree with Katie M. that common meals 
are the heart of cohousing.

My question is whether other communities have a satisfactory "voluntary" common 
meals program. More broadly, I would be very interested in receiving 
descriptions or written agreements regarding other communities' common meals 
program and descriptions of how your program is actually working, whether in 
accordance with a community agreement or not. If you are sending a document, 
you can send to me at either pdelliott43 [at] or (easier to get 
right) pat6 [at]

Thanks in advance for your comments, etc. I apologize if this is well-ploughed 
territory for many of you. 

Pat Elliott
Wolf Creek Lodge

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