How to Start a Work-Party

Imagine this: One Saturday afternoon, six people arrive at your house bearing delicious homemade whole food potluck offerings, and they are sparkling with a playful Get Shit Done attitude. They are here to do your chores.

Here’s the list I’m preparing for the next time my work-party comes to my house:

  1. Wash the windows.
  2. Attack the ivy in my back yard.
  3. Fill a pickup truck with things for a dump run.
  4. Trim the tree in the front yard.

Everybody’s got a list of things around that house that need to get done. Single parents often just want someone to do the dishes, and a strong work-party can clean one whole house a week, or paint a house in a day. What’s on your list?

A work-party is a group of people who get together, usually twice or three times a month, to converge upon each other’s houses and do what needs doing.

Here’s how to make a work-party happen:

  1. Inspire one to six households to start a work party with you. Connect with people who you know who might be interested, reach out on social media, and talk to your local Middleway group. Share this article with them. With just two households working together, you can really make a pleasant difference in each other’s lives. Six households can knock out big projects in a surprisingly short time. More than six starts to feel crowded.
  2. Have a whole food potluck for your first meeting. No chores, just eating, planning, and enjoying each other’s company. At this meeting, the party develops and agrees on the ground rules, and sets their cycle of parties.
  3. Set your ground rules. Here are some recommendations:
    1. Everyone in the party goes to every house at least once. For example, when you start a party with four households, you’re going to go to at least three houses, and the party will come to yours once. Of course, after the first cycle, you’ll want to keep going, because it is amazing.
    2. Set your schedule in advance. At your first meeting, agree on the dates and locations for all of the parties in one cycle. So, in our example of four households work-partying together, they set the dates to have a party every two weeks, and their cycle would take two months to complete.
    3. Respect each householder’s needs and preferences, and make your own needs and preferences known. For example, you may need the work-party to be sober, non-smoking, and vegetarian. During your first meeting, get to know each other and take the opportunity to practice inclusivity and pluralism.
    4. Use non-violent communication, peer mediation, and consensus process to resolve disputes, rather than gossip, argument, cliques and sub-groups to escalate conflict.
    5. The householder is the Dictator and needs tell everyone what to do. These work-parties are all about making one person or one household very happy and relaxed.
    6. Learn and grow. At the end of the day, gather everyone together for ten minutes of feedback, asking what worked, and what the party can change to make itself even better next time.
  4. Follow through, show up, and get to work. One obstacle to doing things in the non-monetary economy is the strange phenomena that if a thing is “free” then more people are likely to flake out on it. Work-parties have no membership fees and don’t charge for services, so partiers need to appreciate the intrinsic value of the activity. Most importantly, feel the value of bringing joy into another person’s life. So, when you start a work-party and agree to converge upon a house – show up. It pays in pleasure.

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