One Hundred Sixteen: Good Old Fashioned Toil


“Light is the task where many share the toil.”  – Homer

Saturday, April 26th

One of my favorite parts of living in a cohousing community is the work party. My neighbors and I spring into action, drafting a dozen or so jobs that we can sign up for and accomplish in a day. There is no possible way that I would enjoy this sort of work (or even get it done) if I was a homeowner of a private dwelling. Working together is rewarding and fun, and I always learn something new through being mentored by someone else.

I had presented my committee’s plan to do some lawn restoration work a few weeks ago at the general meeting. What we do on the Landscape Committee shapes the physical space we share, so it is more effective to communicate our plans so that we have more buy-in for the work-intensive things we do. “Fixing” a lawn seemed easy, but I found that I really knew very little about how grass grows and what it needs to withstand constant use. We picked the brain of our neighbor who works for a local parks system, but I still moved with trepidation on the day of the work party.

Our team of six gained momentum slowly. We rented an aerator, and once that got revved up, anyone who wasn’t running the machine figured out how to be of best help. Moving sandbags. Sifting soil. Leveling the playfield. It was an intense physical task. I jumped behind the aerator and was left with bruises on my inner arms and lower thighs from leveraging my body weight against the machine to move it. Then I got a juke of adrenaline from operating this power tool and aerated every square foot of lawn I could! With the cooperative effort we got the job done right on time.

Let it be said that the day before the work party I was on the phone (during a playdate that we were hosting) trying to arrange for someone to order a pallet of sand and have it delivered. The complicated part of working together is stitching together a multitude of very busy schedules. My community has learned over the years to set the work party dates far in advance, but life happens and people’s availability changes. We had the option of dropping the project altogether this time, but I forged ahead with the help of another  neighbor and we made it happen.

What could you get done if you joined forces with others?



Altered photos from Flickr Creative Commons; “Spring Grass” by Kitty Terwolbeck, “Grass” by Tanaka Juuyoh; and “Grass 01” by Saad Khurshid


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