Re: Does your community clean all the common areas yourselves?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2018 07:53:42 -0700 (PDT)
On Oct 5, 2018, at 8:45 AM, Eris Weaver <eris [at]>

> I should probably mention that MANY of us pay someone else to clean our
> individual houses. If I don’t even clean my own toilet, why would I sign up
> to clean the common toilet?

I feel the same way but we do have people who like to clean and like to clean 

HUMAN CAPITAL is what will determine the nature of your community. What you can 
do, what opportunities you can take, depends on your membership — their skills 
and interests. A organizing expert once said, you don’t organize because it is 
a moral or ethical thing to do — god will not get you for this. You organize so 
you can get to work on time. So you have time to make the bird houses you love.

When we did our first round on what jobs people would like to do, I was 
surprised at how many people believed they had no skills that would be helpful 
to the community!!!! These were professional, well educated, competent people — 
who had no skills?

As the round proceeded, one woman, a lawyer for the ACLU, was delighted to 
finally find something she thought she could contribute — she loved cleaning 
bathrooms. A clean toilet was her pride. Who could guess that? Then an army 
psychiatrist who worked odd hours stepped in to say she also like to clean 
bathrooms and it was a perfect job for her because she could do it any time of 
day. Even at midnight after work. The rest of us breathed a sigh of relief. We 
have benefited from that for years and years. You can’t hire an in-house 
bathroom cleaner.

I have been intrigued for years by the story from one community that had 
community sings after dinner on many nights. Why? Because they had a member who 
could and would go over and start playing the piano when she finished her meal. 
Others joined in to sing. That’s the kind of thing you can only have if there 
is someone in residence who loves to do it.

We have another member who organized maintenance and workdays for years. She’s 
a list maker. Detail is her natural focus. She kept a list and made a chart for 
workdays with the name of the task, who to ask for directions and information, 
location of any equipment or supplies, and a column to sign up for the task. 
Someone sat with the list to conduct traffic and help people choose tasks. This 
would drive me crazy. Totally bonkers. She did it for a few years and then 
passed the established process over to other people who have maintained. It has 
been a godsend. And no one else had been able to do it, even if they had 
thought of it.

DYI doesn’t just mean cleaning. We recently acquired two people who are happy 
to organize social events from their computers. It’s something they can do at 
work or at home taking care of the baby. We have many more meals because we 
acquired some people who love to cook. Our kitchen process is more organized 
because a woman who loves to cook is also in public health and looks at 
kitchens from a more institutional experience.

It all depends on your members and what they want to DYI, or as one of our 
members says, Yankee-Do.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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