Bob & Claire Miller, Wolf Creek Lodge
Bob and Claire Miller are providing ideas and considerations on community cooperation to “get the work done,” in maintaining and sustaining their Wolf Creek Lodge cohousing community.
Cooperation and Fairness
Here are some "frequently asked questions" by members of forming cohousing groups:
• How many hours per month must each person commit?
• How do you account for the hours?
• Can people pay rather than work?
• What do you do about those who do not contribute their fair share?
The answers are going to depend on the culture of the cohousing community and the attitude of the individual responding.
First we ask ourselves "Is the work getting done at Wolf Creek Lodge?" The answer is an emphatic "YES!" Given that answer, we can take a somewhat relaxed, laid back approach to the matter. At Wolf Creek Lodge we do not discuss work hours or attempt to police them. We instead ask people to commit to membership of teams and contribute as they see fit.
Some people do more than their fair share and should probably do less. Others participate less than others and should do more. As individuals at the conference, Claire and I recommended taking a relaxed approach. Recognize that people's talents, motivations, capabilities and other obligations vary widely. Don't suffer angst about the contribution or lack of it from others. Celebrate and enjoy your own contributions and express your appreciation for the work done by others.
Now recognize that Wolf Creek lodge is a senior cohousing community. We are mostly retired and, although often busy, have more control over how we assign priority to work and recreation activities than those working and raising kids in inter-generational cohousing communities.
There is work to be done - from cleaning public bathrooms to preparing the annual HOA budget. This seems like a lot of work you say - I thought cohousing was all fun and community. We forget the work we did to maintain our previous homes. Then we did it all ourselves.
At Wolf Creek Lodge we have evolved a system based on "Teams". There are lots of these:
The Coordinating Team
Common House Management Team
Finance and Legal Team
Marketing & Membership Team
Landscape (Gardening Team) Team
Open Space Team
Safety & Security Team
Infection Control Team
Garage & Parking Team
Common Meals Team
We expect members to be on perhaps two teams. Where would you best fit in?
In addition to your work on these teams we expect you to be a member of a "Clean Team".
These are coordinated by the Common House Management Team. They have divided the Lodge into cleaning areas. A team is assigned to an area and is responsible for keeping it clean.
Would you like some flights of stairs, the oven in the common kitchen, the common room floor?
Let us know.
Common Meals Teams
We eat together three or four times per week. On three Saturdays it's a potluck. On other days the meal is prepared by a Cook Team. Members of Wolf Creek Lodge are "strongly encouraged" to be on a cook team once a month. Some great cooks will do more than one meal a month. You do not need to be a competent cook - there are many of these at Wolf Creek Lodge who are happy to have a team member who will do what they are told and express no opinion about the preparation of the meal.
Now common meals are a little different than other tasks at Wolf Creek Lodge. We have a "Common Meals Queen." You will not find this position documented in any consented agreement but you will notice a golden crown on a high shelf in the kitchen. If you fail to sign up for your monthly cook team be prepared for a regal nudge.
The maintenance team does many jobs themselves but will also contract with others when the necessary skills, capability or simply time is not available from the membership.
Among many other scheduled maintenance activities they arrange for the windows to be cleaned. You can also sign up to have the inside done as well.
"There's One More thing"
So you are on one or two teams, you are also on a clean team and do your monthly cook team duty. Well done, but there's one more thing. Once a quarter we have a "Community Work Day". Sign up for a job on the sheets in the Common Room and do one of the "extra" tasks to keep things looking good.