Katie’s Statement for CoHousing Inclusive

Katie was recently invited by the Institute for Creative Sustainability (a Berlin-based non-profit organization which has been active since 2003 to study and promote cultures of sustainable urban development) to make a statement for their new publication.

Their project, CoHousing Cultures (also the title of another book by the author, Michael LaFond) is publishing CoHousing Inclusive, to be printed in both English and German. They’ve invited 26 international cooperative and community-led housing experts and activists to publish a statement in the book. Katie’s contributory statement:

“In cohousing neighborhoods, we build relationships with our neighbors by working together on practical matters, whether that is a landscape workday or making dinner. As we work together, we build trust. Over time, we find our own edges softening, gaining greater empathy for each other, and this empathy accompanies us in the rest of our lives, opening our hearts to others. Living in community teaches us to listen more carefully to what others have to share. When our communities are truly successful, they give us energy and support to engage actively in the larger civil society to empathetically and respectfully address the challenges of the human condition.”
          – Katie McCamant, CoHousing Solutions

Pre-order the book on Amazon here.

Get a copy of the the first book, CoHousing Cultures.

Grateful for Community

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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.

As we ponder the state of the world this holiday season, it appears the art of conversation and dialogue is ever more important.

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,
Katie

Now What?

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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

Abundance and Living the Good Life

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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.

Culture of Appreciation


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.

After all, isn’t that what we all really want…..to be appreciated for our efforts?

Rituals in Cohousing

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Why I Love Cohousing — 10/24/15 Harvest Festival

One of the things I love about living in cohousing is how each community develops its own rituals and traditions. At Nevada City Cohousing, one of our traditions is our October Harvest Festival. We start with a workday in the morning, sprucing up the landscape and the common house (some deep cleaning). Then we take a siesta, followed by an afternoon of arts and crafts on the common house terrace. Over the years, I’ve become the specialist on grapevine wreath making, with wreaths made from the grapevine covering my front porch, decorated as you like with lavender, rosemary, seedpods and other plants from our landscape. Many people now bring last year’s wreath for a yearly update. Then we have a very competitive chili cook-off (vote for your favorite veggie chili, meat chili, cornbread and dessert). The day is topped off with square dancing in the common house and a fire pit on the patio. It’s a great multigenerational mix up with a little something for everyone. In recent years, the original organizers felt they were too busy to take it on, but the community rallied and new people showed up. After you’ve done something like this a few years, it really takes very little organizing if everyone pitches in on bits and pieces.  One of this year’s memorable moments was the trio of little girls delivering fresh baked cookies to the workers…who could resist them, or their cookies…

katie headshotKatie McCamant | Nevada City Cohousing resident
CoHousing Solutions President

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