Re: Searching for a cohousing community that is satisfied with how its workshare is working. We want to learn from you.
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013 07:23:56 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 23, 2013, at 12:24 PM, Carol Singleton <quetzal4 [at]> wrote:

> Each committee (Common House, Landscape, 10 Acre Woods, Facilities (covers
> maintenance of common facilities including the pool/spa), Finance, Garden
> and Orchard) identifies Critical Tasks and the number of hours which they
> believe will take to complete these tasks. 

What I find takes the most time are things like writing policy proposals, 
recording and filing minutes for meetings, decision-making or proposal writing 
meetings, etc. Governance related discussions and decisions that take so much 
time -- what do you do about this?

Only a few people at Takoma Village participate in this, just as only some 
people focus on landscaping or cleaning, but it isn't recognized as work by the 
workshare people or by people who don't do it. Yet it is essential to community 

We have 43 units, 65 adults, 20 children. Moved in 12 years.

> Meals and meal clean up are not part of the Work Share program,
> but maintaining the kitchen is part of critical tasks.

This is a nice idea. We haven't separated these, except that deep cleaning and 
sorting our of unwanted stuff is done once a year. We have one group that cooks 
meals every Monday and they clean up well after meals. When they are on hiatus 
because no cook has signed up, the kitchen gets a mess. If we had a separate 
crew that maintained the kitchen, I think it would be easier for someone to 
decide to do a single, special meal.

The first time I cooked the turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving I had blisters 
on my feet from going back to my unit to get things that were not in the 
kitchen or I couldn't find at midnight when I started the turkey.

> 3.       Committees will assign Time Values (in 15 minute increments) to
> their Critical Tasks based on the critical nature of the task.  Time Values
> should add up to the committee’s overall allotted annual hours.  

I think assigned time values are very important. We did a sample few months of 
actual time tracking and it was so laborious and boring for me, and for many 
others. Having assigned values eliminates this tracking.

How do you allot a committee's annual hours? 

The Ecovillage of Loudoun County in VA does an annual labor budget when they do 
their financial budget. People pledge additional hours before new projects are 
started. A project can be taken on above and beyond the hours pledged but doing 
it this way ensures that everyone understands that this is Harry and Joe's 
extra work, not a community commitment.

One issue, for example, that I'm concerned about at Takoma Village is the 
landscape. We have a beautiful a landscape of traditional flowers, shrubs, 
grass, etc. Several people have moved in who are very big on vegetable 
gardening so we have expanded to 3 raised beds and some small-ground level beds 
for those. We haven't had the discussion about how much we have increased work 
required to maintain these but one or two people only work on the gardens. 
Other people who do planting have complained that no one wants to weed.

> 4.       Community members complete monthly signed statements certifying the
> completed Critical Tasks in order to get work credit, in accordance with
> Work Program Guidelines.

Do you bill if you don't get these statements or bill and then give credit when 
the slips come in?

How are these billed-- with regular monthly fees or a separate system?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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