Re: Commitments to community
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2016 13:35:33 -0800 (PST)
I’ve said this before but will say it again because this is such a problem in 
cooperative ventures with no definition or enforcement of cooperation.

After 15+ years of reading the list, participating in food coops, school coops, 
churches, college faculties, etc., and various schemes to increase 
participation, I believe that hours and money are not the answer.

Almost every time we have asked for hours or money in special circumstances — 
emergency or desired extra — we have gotten it.

It’s much more important for me that people take responsibility for maintaining 
the community. Pay attention. Don’t make work for other people. Leave it better 
than you found it. Do something nice for a community member a few times a month.

Assume a task that needs to be done on an ongoing basis so others don’t have to 
even think about it. Take charge of the sump pumps, the lawn mowing, 
straightening up the kids room, posting minutes on the website, etc., and do 
the job dependably and without reminders.

A person who takes responsibility for the parking gate, ensuring that 
maintenance gets done and calling for service when necessary. Regular 
maintenance is a annual contract but it has never worked that the service 
people automatically show up. And when they don’t, the gate will break down a 
few weeks later. No one can get in or out. She is on it the minute she is 

How much time does this all take? Probably a few hours a year. But I don’t even 
have a car and I bless her. The letter carrier blesses her because then she 
doesn’t have to carry mail from the other street — a one block walk. Garbage 
pick up and recycling can back up very fast if the gate doesn’t open.

When the community is on the whole functioning responsibly, I feel safe. 

It took me a long time to get to this.

Rob Sandelin once said, how can I judge the value of 8 hours cleaning the 
trails (they have woods) and holding a half hour ksession with our children 
talking about ethics? (They have a philosophy professor.)

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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