Combining Conversation, Community, and Chores

If you want to build community, within your family or neighborhood, the absolute requirement is frequent, unplanned encounters in combination with structured meeting times. One or the other is insufficient.

A list of fruitful ways to spend time family members and neighbors. By fruitful, I mean ways that will help you learn about the other people.


  • Conversation
  • Listen to book on tape/ baseball game and comment
  • Read aloud and comment
  • Sing
  • Story game—each person tells a bit of the story before passing it on
  • Tell stories
Sunday is a day of rest. That's a good day for the kinds of communal recreation that takes all your attention. So after Mass and a lovely lunch, try these:
  • All sports and games
  • Attend concerts / listen to music
  • Fly kites
  • Ride horses, bicycles, drives in the country
  • Visit museums / art institutes
  • Watch good films / plays
  • Water sports & activities
  • Winter sports
But on other days, I (and perhaps you're like me) don't have much time for the kind of encounters which demands all my attention and participation--eating at restaurants, playing games, "hanging out," the kinds of meetings where you leave all your work behind. I find it kind of stressful to "hang out" when I have half a dozen things to do at home. One solution is never to see people except on Sunday. Another solution is never to finish some of your tasks.
But here's a better third solution.
Many of the things we have to do, get done while we listen to music or putter about in silence. But they can be done while you spend time with other people. So I keep difficult paperwork, strenuous labor, and solitary activities (like crosswords, letter writing, reading) for the times I am alone. I save the following for when family and friends are around. I find I am less antsy about "what I need to do" when I am doing it already and able to lend an ear to my friends and family. And then--why schedule special times "to hang out" when you're already talking to them?

Chores that Facilitate Conversation
Food prep:
  • Grate lemon zest.
  • Make & decorate cookies.
  • Peel garlic and store in bottles of olive oil.
  • Peel / core /pare potatoes / fruits / vegetables.
  • Pit cherries.
  • Shell eggs.
  • Shell peas.
  • Snap beans.
Chores & Activities (either you are doing it with other people or everyone is doing it)
  • Clean & oil small tools, pocket-knives, etc.
  • Clean up after dinner
  • Clean musical instruments, restring, etc.
  • Clerical work--like stuffing envelopes, folding booklets, etc.
  • Cut, curl, braid hair
  • Draw, color, paint
  • Hoe garden
  • Iron
  • Knit / crochet / needlework
  • Make rosaries
  • Mend & Darn
  • Oil boots
  • Practice knots
  • Quilt
  • Shine shoes
  • Sort & fold laundry
  • Tie lures (fishing)
  • Wash dishes
  • Whittle
Help me add to this ongoing list!

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