Monthly Circle

Ostrom’s seminal work on shared governance (i.e. self-governance) demonstrated that effective regulatory systems often include educational, co-managerial, rehabilitative, and participatory decision-making components designed to maintain positive, long-term relationships.

– Daniel DeCaro


Chore Wheel provides many useful tools and structures for supporting communal life. However, there are limits to what can be accomplished with formal systems alone. Like two wings of a bird, structure must be balanced with culture for communities to succeed.

The following is a description of a possible community practice, separate from the Chore Wheel tools themselves. Ultimately, it is up to the specific community to develop cultural practices that work for them.

The monthly circle is a simple and accessible practice used to pro-actively cultivate shared understanding among the residents of a house, and to better equip the residents to navigate the conflicts and differences of opinion which inevitably arise.

The circle is led by a different resident every month and ideally lasts about 90 minutes. Circles have the following simple structure, which can be easily modified to suit different needs:

1. Sharing Personal Roses, Thorns, and Buds

First, residents go around in a circle sharing personal roses, thorns, and buds for the month – things which went well for them, things which did not, and things they are looking forward to in the future.

2. Sharing House Roses

Then, residents go around in a circle sharing house roses: positive things which happened in the house and among the residents.

3. Sharing House Thorns

Then, residents go around in a circle sharing house thorns: concerns about the house, such as negative patterns or problematic developments. The goal here is less to criticize individuals and more to build a consensus around shared expectations. For groups using Chore Wheel, this is a good opportunity to discuss potential changes, such as editing the chore list or changing chore priorities.


During this go-around, there is usually more back-and-forth discussion as people seek clarity around issues discuss possible resolutions. It is recommended to share house thorns in advance, so that others have time to prepare their thoughts and responses.

4. Sharing House Buds

Finally, residents go around in a circle sharing house buds: general hopes and aspirations for the future, such as personal goals, visions for the house, or hopes for the development of current events more broadly.

5. Closing the Circle

At the close of the circle, a different housemate volunteers to lead the next month’s circle and sets the date.