Sunday, June 30, 2013

Doing the Dirty Work in a Cohousing Community

Sometimes there's just no way you can avoid doing the dirty work in a cohousing community, and Pacific Gardens sure needed it.

Weeds were taking over the gardens.  The compost bin was over-flowing.  Crayon and pencil marks decorated the walls.

Windows had a patina of grunge.  The new equipment for the playground had remained un-asembled for too long.

The window-sills needed dusting, the pot-holes in the driveway filling, and the dryer vents in the common laundry vacuuming.

Augggh!  It's bad enough having to do the housework in your own place, let alone in the Common House.

So how do you get people to do this stuff?  Well, it ain't easy.  We have tried several strategies in the almost four years we've been living here.

We drew up a Community Contribution list with all the chores on it, and the name of the person to contact if you were interested in tackling one.

Hmm. Not too many takers with that approach.

So, then we decided to have a Community Contribution System Team, whose members would gently - but firmly - encourage people to do their fair share.

Alas, no-one wanted to be a cohousing enforcer.

And then Kari came to the rescue.  She sent out an e-mail saying we were having a work-bee this weekend, and put up notices.

She asked for volunteers to provide snacks and drinks, as well as child-care. A list for what needed to be done both inside and outside appeared.

And here's the amazing thing.  With just two days' notice, on the first really sunny day of the summer, and a long weekend, people  turned out.

Not a whole lot, but the ones who did worked very hard, and the building and the grounds look fabulous. The day ended with a terrific potluck.

Not all the chores got done, of course - the crayon marks are still there, and some of the tasks requiring heavy lifting need a champion.

But the community - from age four-and-a-half to 81 - pulled together and gave our beautiful home some long-needed tender loving care. Wow!

It's another reason why I love living here.


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