As we near the end of 2016, we who are so lucky to live in community have much to be grateful for; most importantly: good, caring neighbors who are willing to actively engage in the process of creating great neighborhoods to grow up in, and to age in.
How can we best work together to meet our diverse needs? How can I be better at truly hearing you? By sharing my own vulnerabilities, can I help to create a “safe” place for others? When I see you take action, I too am inspired to do my part to create a fairer world.
In our communities, we practice and refine our communication skills, our ability to work collaboratively, and most importantly, to always treat all people with respect. We model a world we dream of for our children, and our children take it forth into the world in so many different ways.
May the holiday season bring you opportunities to appreciate what we have created together, and may the new year bring you and your family and community even more opportunities to practice these skills as we seek to build a more respectful and sustainable world.
With Much Gratitude,
I had drafted a piece for this month’s newsletter titled “abundance,” describing my community’s Harvest Festival and my gratitude for all I have here, in Nevada City Cohousing. But after the election, that no longer felt appropriate. I am, quite frankly, shocked and dismayed that a man that shows so little respect for people has just been elected to the most powerful position in the country. Apparently there are a lot of Americans that see the world very differently than I do.
I have spent my entire adult life trying to create communities that honor that everyone has something to contribute, that reduce our impact on the world’s resources, where we strive to treat each other with respect even when we disagree. This election appears to repudiate all that I have worked for and believe in.
The morning after the election, I read an email posted on Coho-L from Ann Zabaldo of Takoma Village in Washington, DC:
Last night, at 1:45 a.m., my neighbor Carrie and I packed up the projector and the computer (in the common house) and headed home…You might consider the emotions I might be feeling at that juncture…would be sadness, anger, confusion, bemusement, bewilderment, anxiety, depression, etc. Instead, I felt profoundly lonely.
…when I woke up this morning at 5:30 a.m., I was profoundly grateful. I live in cohousing. Now, it’s not just that I have all my neighbors so I won’t be lonely. It’s something bigger than that. A lot bigger.
Cohousing allows me to tackle the issues I want to tackle. I’m not waiting around for “The Government” to deal with issues around aging. Or the challenges single parents face (and two parent households, too!). Or, environmental and energy challenges. Or, latch key kids. Or any of many dozens of other social challenges facing society today. I have a blueprint for how to tackle these issues: Cohousing Communities. I don’t have to wait around for a government program. I can just keep building more communities.
So on this morning after the night before, I am moved to say how grateful I am to Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett for giving me this blueprint. From the day I read the first paragraph in the first edition of “Cohousing” I have never wavered in my belief and commitment that community has the power to change the world – one cohousing community at a time.That’s a gift, Katie and Chuck. Thank you.
WOW! Thank you Ann! That certainly made my day.
And I agree, we must keep creating healthy communities that teach people to work together, only better and broader. We must make sure our communities are not isolated islands, but rather beacons of hope of how people can work together respectfully, spreading love and hope rather than anger and fear. May our communities sustain us so that we can be even stronger advocates for a more just society for everyone. We must not let this election discourage our efforts. The one thing we can count on now is there will be no financial assistance from the federal government for the foreseeable future to create more affordable housing, protect our environment, or slow climate change.
It is up to us to keep moving those efforts forward as best we can. And I still believe, we can do that best in community.
Always Stronger Together!
– Katie McCamant, CoHousing Solutions
Imagine a community where neighbors know each other, kids play outside together until it’s time for dinner…and when that time comes, dinner is cooked and ready on the table.
“Calling the kids in for dinner can be challenging, because they’re having so much fun they don’t want to come home,” Carlyle Miller said about her two daughters. “So carving out that family time can be more challenging, but we’ve found ways to deal with that.”
Durrett said he and McCamant couldn’t have imagined raising their daughter in another environment.
“Parents can provide only so much guidance and fulfill only so many curiosities. But what Jessie learned from playing with lots of kids just outside the door, what she learned from lengthy conversations with their parents, endless sports with neighbors …. If people only knew what cohousing offered their kids, they would be there,” Durrett said in an email.
By Katie of CoHousing Solutions | Nevada City Cohousing resident
As the days grow cooler and we clean out our summer gardens, my community here in the Sierra Foothills soaks in the abundance we reap. We’ve harvested apples and pears from our 10-year-old fruit trees. We’re still getting greens out of the garden, but the tomatoes are done for the year.
This weekend we celebrated with our annual Harvest Festival. We began with a workday, deep cleaning the common house and sprucing up the outdoors. In the afternoon, we had crafts on the terrace where I specialize in wreaths made from the grapevines on my porch, decorated with leaves and herbs from the garden. Making or updating your grapevine wreath has become part of the Harvest Festival Tradition. But alas, no one can concentrate on making wreaths until they’ve attempted the ever-popular donut-on-a-string contest.
After crafts, we gather for the highly competitive Chili Cook-off, along with competitions for cornbread, side dishes and dessert. Much tasting, trying again, and just one more try to make sure… Of course, the vegetarian and less spicy versions have an advantage, as everyone can taste those. Once the winners are announced, we quickly clear the floor for the dance. This is the one time a year we hire a band and a caller to lead us in “old-timey” contra dancing. I love to watch my neighbors of all ages dancing and playing together.
But it shouldn’t be underestimated how satisfying it is to work together with your neighbors to make the place look great. Now that we’ve had this tradition for many years, it’s amazingly easy to put on, everyone chipping in as they’re able. All in all, a fun and satisfying day, celebrating our bountiful harvest in so many ways.
Living in community may not be utopia, but it’s a pretty wonderful place to live…feeling full of abundance.
Join Gorge Cohousing the weekend of October 21st-23rd for a rich cohousing experience.
Free Cohousing Presentation on Friday the 21st, given by Katie McCamant of CoHousing Solutions and Chuck Durrett of McCamant & Durrett Architects. The Getting-It-Built Workshop on Saturday the 22nd & Sunday the 23rd requires pre-registration.
Visit www.gorgecohousing.com for more info on both events.
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Katie McCamant | CoHousing Solutions & Nevada City Cohousing
Living in community, we have an opportunity to create a culture of appreciation, or not. This doesn’t happen casually. I consider myself a typical cohouser, in that, if you ask me, I’m guaranteed to have an opinion. But sometimes we don’t need more opinions, we just need people to appreciate our efforts. In my community, Nevada City Cohousing, we found ourselves overwhelmed with too many opinions after move-in, ten years ago. Everyone wanted a say on everything. We had to consciously tell ourselves “assume best intent,” rather than questioning why someone or some committee did this or that.
It takes conscious effort to learn to appreciate that others have taken the time to think through some aspect of our community management, and that, thus, I don’t have to worry about it. Now I’m better at thanking people for what they do, rather than questioning why they choose that way to do it. I know they too are concerned about our community’s health, and have invested time and thought into doing what they’re doing. Rather than question their effort, I can make better use of my time by focusing on the areas I’m most involved in for our community, the landscape and finance teams.
I saw the payoff of this culture of appreciation recently, when I casually chatted with a neighbor in the pool as I walked by. Barry has been point person on our pool and spa team since we moved in 10 years ago. Residents do all of pool maintenance, including the daily testing, dealing with the County health inspectors and annual licensing. I thanked Barry for all his efforts as I walked by, and then thought to ask if he was going to “shock” the pool (we try to keep the chemicals as low as possible, but after a high-use weekend more chorine is needed). Barry asked when I wanted to swim. I love to swim in the dark pool just before bed, especially after a hot summer day. I said I’d be out by 10 pm, Barry said he’d shock it after that. And thus, my simple attempt to appreciate my neighbor’s efforts paid off with a change in schedule allowing me to swim later that day. This would have never happened in a condo pool, maintained by a hired contractor on a schedule. More importantly, people will always be willing to do more when they feel their efforts are appreciated, not questioned.
Creating Modern Villages Through Jewish Cohousing
Urban Moshav is a non-profit development partner for Jewish cohousing whose services include guided visioning, site search and feasibility, group formation, project management and much more.
Urban Moshav is currently facilitating the formation of Berkeley Moshav, a 20-25 household Jewish cohousing community in Berkeley, CA. They intend to be diverse in age, income, family structure, and Jewish observance and to have a kosher community kitchen.
Why Jewish Cohousing?
“Community is the core of both cohousing and Jewish life, and my intention is to marry these two forms of community. Jewish life can be a integral component of the “social glue” created in cohousing communities: Shared rituals, traditions, and celebrations can help residents form even tighter bonds, as people come together not only to have more community but also to nurture an ancestral and life affirming tradition. Conversely, living in cohousing can create a more nurturing cradle for sustaining and passing along Jewish rituals and traditions, for raising children who are connected to these, and for celebrating life together. I want to create such environments, where Jewish tradition enhances the community and the community nurtures Jewish life.”
LGBT Senior Cohousing Communities with Residential Care
Dan is the founder and Managing Director of eQuality Health Services, a company focused on providing guidance and assistance to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in finding supportive retirement, assisted living, CCRC, and nursing home options; in addition to building LGBT focused senior housing communities.
He served for 9 years as the single federal Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As a member of the Senior Executive Service and the Ombudsman, Dan issued annual reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and to Congress on his suggested improvements to the Medicare program.
Dan is partnering with CoHousing Solutions to build LGBT senior focused cohousing inspired developments in targeted cities. eQuality Health Services will also develop a benchmarking tool to evaluate senior communities’ policies and practices related to the inclusion of LGBT seniors, friends, and employees.
Dan splits his time between Provincetown, MA and Delray Beach, FL with his husband Scott.
He’s currently considering sites on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and along the southeast coast of Florida.