Purpose of a Work Day

Photo by Adam Johnson
Wild Sage Cohousing, photo by Adam Johnson
Photo by Pete Pages
East Lake Commons, Photo by Pete Pages
Nevada City Cohousing

Does your community have work days? Why?

That second question matters and may be worthy of review. In the broader culture of the US, there is a lot of focus on tasks, work and material accomplishments. This is good. We like beautiful flower beds, roofs that don’t leak and clean common house kitchens. The work does need to be done. But why do it together? Why not hire it out? Why not let each person contribute on their own schedule?

The answer for many communities is that work days, and even the choice to self-manage our property, are most importantly about relationships. They are about spending time together, the joy of collaboration, and the sense of connection we feel when we have accomplished something as a team. Working together can be one of the most powerful ways to connect as community. Connection in turn leads to joy, fun and laughter.

I’m curious about what it would look like if we focused first on connection and second on the tasks rather than the other way around. How would we organize ourselves? How would be frame the workday announcement? Would we include our youngest children, even though they may slow the work more than move it forward? Would we be careful to include rest and food in the plans? Would we carefully plan for tasks that are accessible to people of all abilities? Would we celebrate those who put their tools down to share a meal and invite those still working to do the same?

We might do all of those things, but most importantly I believe it is a matter of mindset. It is about looking forward to the day with thoughts of neighbors and togetherness more than the sparkly clean kitchen or the freshly mowed lawn. It is about looking back on the day and counting the smiles and conversations more than the tasks checked off the list.

The funny thing is, I believe when we do this, we actually get more work done. Joy makes us more productive. Collaborative spirit makes us prioritize the time in busy schedules. Community, after all, is the reason we moved into cohousing to begin with. How could we not celebrate that?

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