Re: Common meals - mandatory participation
From: Jessica Gaitan (
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2014 17:29:35 -0700 (PDT)
Until recently I lived at Liberty Village in Libertytown, MD. Our common
meals are voluntary. During the summer, they're all cookouts/BBQs/potlucks.

During the fall, winter and spring, there's a quarterly schedule. Residents
send their not available dates and the scheduler sends out the schedule
with a team of 4 people assigned to each meal, which works out to about
twice a week.

The cook team can choose to cook, buy pizza, or trade dates with someone
else, or even cancel if need be, though usually the meal becomes a potluck
if they let the community know in time. Cook team buys the food and cleans
up, though attendees usually help with the clean up somewhat.

Attendance ranges widely, but whenever it gets sparse, an email is sent out
asking for more participation and usually it spikes back up. The cook team
usually sends out a menu the day before and we notice if they don't send
this reminder of the meal, attendance will dip.
We have an online calendar with reminders set up as well. Residents are
asked to let cooks know if they will be bringing guests.

Something vegetarian is almost always served.

For me, I had such cumbersome dietary restrictions that I often couldn't
eat any of the meal. Sometimes I did anyway (obviously only the items that
weren't a danger), sometimes I brought my own item to eat.

Mostly, this system has worked. The money and work tends to balance out. No
one is interested in making it more complex. We have about 15-17 households.

-- Jessica Gaitan
(who now lives in Enright Ridge Ecovillage in Cincinnati OH, where all our
common meals are potlucks.)

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