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Spreadsheet Geekery (How To Woo Me With Chore Charts)

July 31, 2012

Am I great at making spreadsheets? No, not particularly. Not a clue how to do the math-based ones with functions and whatnot. But creating this sign-up schedule for our anti-foreclosure doorknocking was fun. I said it — FUN. Before your eyes glaze over completely, here are 5 reasons why I think tools like this are crucial for dope feminist horizontalist organizing.

1. Defining tasks aids transparency and learning. It’s like watching someone cook up an amazing moussaka, being like WTF How Did You Do That, and then they hand you a detailed recipe. And give you their phone number so they can walk you through it the first couple of times.

2. Signup sheets provide choice and accountability. You choose your task, and everyone else can see that you chose it. The person acting as Shift Coordinator can call you and remind you that you chose it, the day before you’re supposed to do it.

3. Listing the work makes it feel more manageable. Some people may not find relief and joy through lists, but I am the opposite of those people. Look! You can make sure everything can get done! It’s like a dotted-line map leading to the buried treasure of accomplishment and satisfaction!

4. You can describe the work however you want. Sometimes a little game or private joke can transform a boring chore into a delightful duty. I completely made up this Garlic & Onions allegory for no reason, but now I’m all rarin’ to go on the follow-up work. Don’t let them burn!

5. Counteracts Cliquey-ness. Related to #1. Sure, when the people you organize with are the people you live / party / smoke / sculpt / read / march / dance / sleep with, you can text each other on the the way to the doorknocking meetup and be like, Hey did u rmembr 2 print maps or shld i??? But if you want new people to feel well-oriented without having to penetrate the inner core of Cool Kids, spelling things out in writing can be a plus.

* * *

What organizing tools warm the cockles of your feminist heart? Where have you seen good ones employed? Some of my favorites have included: a massive chore chart, complete with a weighted points allocation system, for a 33-person live/eat co-op; a cartoon chore chart handmade by my housemate Noa (I still remember that the symbol for cleaning the [dish]rack was boobs); and the collective housekeeping signups used at the end of Goenka Vipassana retreats. I swoon over such systems! Seriously; skip the jewelry and just offer me a gorgeous spreadsheet. I will immediately go on a well-planned and -executed date with you.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. leorasf permalink
    August 1, 2012 8:29 am

    OY YOU ARE THE HOTTNESS. that’s all this made me think, for real.

  2. August 1, 2012 10:46 am

    too much, too much. i can only dream of the day you and i will collaborate on an illustrated signup spreadsheet with accompanying soul and hip-hop soundtrack.

  3. leorasf permalink
    August 2, 2012 6:34 pm

    ooooooh your are too dreamy Kloncke! not allowed to be so dreamy so far away!

  4. simon permalink
    August 3, 2012 7:25 am

    Hello, from the anti-eviction movement in Chicago! Saw your comment mentioning anti-foreclosure work on a Black Orchid Collective essay on education, and then I saw this. Struggling with similar questions about distributed accountability and skills! About to make an address list for canvassing tomorrow, and I’ve struggled with how to make everyone feel able to take on that process (and other anti-foreclosure-specific knowledge, like reading paperwork) given barriers of education, computer access, free printer access, and language/literacy. it would be great to chat about what y’all have figured out and what we’ve figured out.

    Our group is at What’s the group you’re with?

  5. August 3, 2012 5:07 pm

    hey simon! yes, it would be great to set up conversations between our groups on this! our ‘spoke’ of the coalition wheel, the east bay solidarity network, meets on mondays, and the whole coalition meets on fridays — maybe we can do a group skype one of these days. we just tried to do one with a group in atlanta, take back the block, had some tech difficulties but it brought up some interesting political questions about defending against foreclosures, and whether it reinforces too much the ideals of private property, rather than using the crisis as an opportunity to repurpose more empty homes and re-envision social housing.

    i’ll email you and we can talk more! thanks for sayin hey. :)

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