co op photo
Sophomore Elizabeth Bergland picks out her stuffed bell pepper to share with a fellow Reedie.
Sharing cookies and chores: the student co-op

By Margaret Boyle ’05

Fourteen Reed students have successfully converted a residence hall into a commune, allowing them to experience an intentional community while remaining on campus. At the “Food Co-op,” housed inside the MacNaughton residence hall, residents make daily dinners and a Sunday brunch, with each member taking a turn cooking and cleaning with a partner. They also share chores like taking out the recycling and cleaning the kitchen.

Sophomore Abigail Hurvitz-Prinz explains, “I’ve wanted to be a part of an intentional community like the co-op for a long time. When I was a little girl, I wanted to move onto my uncle’s kibbutz. This is nowhere near the same scale, but living cooperatively has been a really important part of my life at Reed.”

Many of the residents chose to live in the co-op for the opportunity to cook and share home-cooked meals and still be close to the library and other campus resources. “Not only do we cook really yummy food, we also get to share it,” Hurvitz-Prinz says. “And learning to cook for 14-plus people is a really great skill. Now when I’m just cooking for myself, I always make too much!”

“The vegetarians sometimes make funky, hippie foods. The kind that just don’t stick to your bones.” - cooper

“I’m a hippie and I eat fried chicken.” - levin

“You’re not a hippie. Real hippies don’t eat
fried anything.” - cooper

“It’s good to have a break to put your hands to work on something other than flipping pages,” says sophomore Parker Cooper, an anthropology major.

The responsibility involved in living in the campus co-op also fosters a unique sense of community, say residents. Elliot Levin, a junior sociology major, says, “People here are much closer than they are in other dorms. Because we work and eat together, we have to spend the time to really get to know and trust each other, and work out our differences. We’re really like a family; we go home and make dinner together.”

co op photo
Junior Eliot Levin inspects the evening’s garlic mashed potatoes.

Junior Lily Cool, a physics major and one of the founding members of the co-op, is spending her second year as a resident in the dorm. She explains that a group of students proposed the idea for the co-op at the end of her freshman year. She says, “It seemed like a good experiment. And so far, it looks like it’s working.”

Levin says you can’t help but emphasize the food: “Three or four days out of the week, I come out of the library around 3 a.m. and come home to fresh cookies. That’s just beautiful.”

End of Article

Reed Magazine February 2003