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EBF Kitchen AHAS

The EBF Kitchen is an industrial kitchen certified by the State of California to be used by a household of 54 people for personal meals as well as large scale dinners for the entire house.  With a mixture of veterans of cooperative living (on campus) as well as people fresh out of the dorms, the group has one informal learning goal: to learn to cook and clean on one’s own. While there are specific goals within the job system, for my report I would like to focus on this goal and rephrase it slightly: how to cook and clean on one’s own in a kitchen that you share with a large number of people.
Replace “cook and clean” with any other activity and I believe that the cooperative kitchen represents an important overlap between University standards and student driven attempts to create a community that is authentic and individuated. Re-designing such a space takes mediating the concerns of students (who daily use the space to cook and clean for themselves and others) as well as the concerns of the University (an institution dedicated to pedagogy with several Federal and institutional standards to maintain). I believe this space is unique, especially from ones we have been discussing, since it is not simply a matter of applying pedagogy before deciding on technologies, but also a matter of considering individuated preferences for learning, an institutional direction for pedagogy, as well as a student created community with its own history of “norms” and what I might call pedagogies.
My research project will focus on how to cater to both of these interests. Namely, how to create a system that maintains university norms and allows students to manage themselves efficiently and cooperatively. On one hand I will be focusing, then, on the norms of the community, the signs they choose to post, and the job system they have created to teach this responsibility. On the other, I seek to understand the structure that the university applies to these learning spaces and discuss any physical changes to the space. Not only do I think this will help to make the EBF kitchen a more effective learning space for residents, but also to help create a paradigm for the communication between student communities and University policy.
I think this has been my greatest “aha” moment. I had been approaching the project mainly from my viewpoint and trying to apply my theoretical understanding of “cooperative living”. While this might be useful for understanding my own relationship to the community around me, it will not serve as any useful data for future action. I hope to really investigate the connection between University policy and student community needs on campus and lay ground work for more effective communication.
Some ideas I have been thinking about:
– having residents draw maps of the kitchen and looking to what they emphasize, what they leave out, and maybe also having them circle what is important
– evaluating research on commercial kitchens and other common dining areas
– collecting data on cooking times, cleaning times, and developing other quantitative measures of competency in a kitchen
– figuring out the university’s opinion the mutability of these spaces as well as if they see learning to live in a community as a learning goal of their residences
working with interview data from a New Resident, a Veteran Resident, and a stranger to the house in order to understand perceptions of the space
talking to the future staff about what they perceive the needs of the kitchen to be
Some things that I think prior to research that should happen:
– better shelving in order to hold all of the dishes in an organized way that is easy to use
– better signage but am unsure what type of signage works best, hopefully will see more examples on our tours
– more scheduled times to clean that are informal and not part of the system but sort of a time for everyone to join in, this could also work with cooking


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