Our Labor System

East Wind is a community fueled by the needs and visions of its members. The work here is incredibly varied. East Winders may participate in anything from agricultural work on the ranch, gardens, and in the woods; to childcare, cooking, food processing, and housekeeping in community; to office work or production in our factory, among virtually endless other possibilities. A great number of things must come together to keep a community of our size fed, clothed, sheltered, comfortable, and financially secure. We expect all members to contribute their fair share, taking age and ability into account.

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Fran, Celina, and Lauren with newborn Izora Rose in the process of freezing surplus strawberries

East Wind minimally assigns labor to its members and each member is largely free to choose their own work. The exception to this is a rotating monthly assignment of HTA (hard to assign) labor, consisting of kitchen and dining hall cleaning duties.  HTA shifts are once a week for two hours, and there are about fifty shifts to complete each week which means that not every member will have an HTA shift every month. There is also an industrial quota set on a weekly basis which requires members to work a certain number of hours in our nut butters business or making rope sandals (the number cannot be larger than eight and is usually lower than four). East Wind Community and its businesses have no employees. Each member is an equal owner. 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 or 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 recorded in a digital database and publicly displayed. Elected managers may choose to not allow a member to claim hours under their labor area for an amount of time if they see the labor system being abused, but this is a very rare occurrence. Members are able to bank hours each week by working over quota, and these hours can be saved up indefinitely. For example, a member may work 50 hours one week and 20 the next to maintain an even labor balance.

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A ‘scoop’ sheet which all members use to record their week’s labor

Obviously, it is 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. Because there are only seventy five people living here it becomes evident when a member is having difficulty contributing. Through our Legispol policies, a member can be called to be transparent about their labor if enough members desire it.  If a member falls below -105 hours (three full weeks of labor “in the hole”), 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 may be difficult for some newcomers to plug in at first, long term members are usually looking for help and are glad to direct visitors towards useful labor. Most find their own niche in community in due time.

East Winders are free to focus their time and energy in whatever ways they feel make the best contributions 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 initiative in the areas that they feel comfortable pursuing. The unique talents, skills, and visions of East Winders can manifest in any form that we individually or collectively desire.

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Airik turning the compost piles

East Wind’s labor system allows self-motivated individuals to thrive. Most East Winders find work in community deeply satisfying, in contrast to employment experiences outside community. We are able to pursue our own interests and use our skills to better life for ourselves and our friends.  When our fellow communitarians put in a hard day of work, the results are visible, and we are all able to enjoy the benefits.  These benefits may be a hot cooked meal, a fixed automobile, or a successful business transaction. This daily sense of symbiosis, cooperation, and purpose strengthens our sense of community and our appreciation of the individuals we share it with.

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Boone making cheese in Foopin

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 an agreeable way. 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 to the community as a whole. Maintaining an intentional community and providing for the needs and desires of seventy 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.

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