East Wind's Labor System: A Labor of Love
East Wind is a working farm fueled by the needs and visions of its members. The work here is greatly varied; East Winders may participate in everything from agricultural work on the ranch, in the gardens, and in the woods; to childcare, cooking, food processing, and housekeeping in community; to office work or production in our factory, among infinite other possibilities. A great number of things must come together to keep a community of our size fed, clothed, sheltered, comfortable, and financially secure; but we do a pretty good job at keeping it all together and constantly moving forward. We expect all members to contribute their fair share, taking age and ability into account.
East Wind does not assign labor to members, with the exception of two hours of dishwashing or kitchen cleaning weekly per person (this is referred to Hard-To-Assign or HTA). There is also an industrial quota set on a weekly basis which requires members to work a certain number of hours in our nutbutters business (the number varies but is often somewhere between three and eight hours per week). There are a wide range of jobs within our businesses, including work in the factory (roasting, production, sanitation, etc), work in the warehouse (shipping and pallet repair), and work in the offices (general management, marketing & sales, accounting, etc).
Quota for all labor (industrial and domestic combined) is thirty-five hours per week, and twenty-seven hours on holiday weeks (which occur once per month). Jobs like washing dishes, cooking community dinner, and childcare are credited the same as jobs like milling lumber, building a barn, or hauling comptoil. Members record their labor on a weekly "scoop sheet" and all labor is then put into a computer system and publicly displayed. Elected managers may deny hours claimed in their branch if they suspect they were not rightfully earned, but this is rarely a problem. Members are able to bank hours by working over quota, which they can save up indefinitely and use for on or off the farm vaction at any time.
It is very important that all members do their fair share and truthfully record their labor. This system sometimes creates problems when individuals are suspected of not honestly recording hours or when individuals fall into "the labor hole". If a member falls below -105 hours (three full weeks of labor behind), he or she will be taken to a meeting to address the problem. Though the system isn't perfect, most of us love the freedom, flexibility, and independence it allows us. We are our own bosses, and we are free to choose the work that best suits us. Though it is sometimes difficult for newcomers to plug in at first, many East Winders easily find their own niche in community in due time.
Individuals are free to focus their time and energy in whatever ways they feel they can best contribute to community. Some East Winders choose to focus on a particular branch or projects that are of interest to them, while others prefer to vary their work day-to-day and offer a hand in many different areas of community. Some members prefer physical labor outdoors while some prefer to do work around the home and the office. This diversity of preferences and skills creates a good balance within community, and all work is equally credited and appreciated. Members are encouraged to pursue work that they enjoy and to take iniative. The unique talents, skills, and visions of East Winders can manifest in any form that we individually or collectively desire. Our beautiful ideology, infrastructure, accomplishments, and continued pursuits were all visions themselves not so long ago.
East Wind's labor system allows self-motivated and community-minded individuals to thrive. Most East Winders find work in community deeply satisfying (in sharp contrast to many employment experiences outside community). We are able to pursue our own interests and use our skills to better life for ourselves and our friends. We don't work hard to make money and buy material goods; we work hard to sustain our lifestyle and to provide for ourselves and our community. When our fellow communitarians put in a hard day of work, the results are visible and we are all able to enjoy the benefits (whether those benefits are a hot cooked meal, a fixed automobile, or a successful business). This daily sense of symbiosis, cooperation, and purpose streghtens our sense of community and our appreciation of the individuals we share it with.
East Wind offers individuals the opportunity to use their time as they please, so long as they put thirty-five hours per week into work that benefits community in some way, and meet industrial quota and HTA. East Winders of all types- from machinists to cooks to gardeners- are able to do what they love and develop skills in areas of interest while contributing greatly to the community as a whole. Maintaining an intentional community and providing for the needs and desires of sixty people isn't always easy, but it's a labor of love and a wonderful learning experience for all of us. East Winders over the years have displayed great self-motivation, ambition, and capability. The hard work and vision of East Winders, past and present, has made our community what it is today.