Before daybreak on Thursday, April 19th, four Truckee Cohousing members boarded planes in California enroute for Boulder, Colorado for the annual Regional Cohousing Conference. Our hosts were the cohousing communities of Silver Sage and Wild Sage, both located in North Boulder. Members in attendance were Jan Holan, Swenja Zeigler, John Stanec, Rebekah Capel and Daniel Schnurrenberger.
Thursday gave us time for nice hike up Green Mountain and a dinner with our gracious hosts, David and Melinda, parents to fellow Truckee cohousing member, Lorenzo Worster.
Friday kicked off with special “intensive” courses put on by various cohousing experts. We had several choices and it was great that we were able to divide and attend them all.
John spent the day with Bryan Bowen of Caddis Architects (and resident at Wild Sage Cohousing) who put together an all-day presentation on “Designing a Community.” Bryan should know, as he has participated in the design of several communities included Germantown Cohousing in Nashville. Bryan is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but his affable nature and humor made him an instant hit amongst the Truckee members. He even joined us for an impromptu dinner on Saturday evening, showing us one of his favorite micobreweries in downtown Boulder. We came away with a confident feeling that we’ll be seeing Bryan again on Truckee time during our design phase.
Rebekah attended an all-day session with Karen Gimnig entitled “Bridging Circles”, described as a structured discussion designed to help groups and individuals access both the emotional and the cognitive parts of the brain. Through the day, Rebekah and 8 other cohousing attendees both learned and practiced techniques in sharing values, beliefs and experiences related to various topics. As most cohousing members will tell you, living in a tight community requires constant, effective communication. Rebekah will be an excellent resource for our Truckee community in facilitating interpersonal interactions.
Swenja started off the morning with Jeff Lawhead with the topic of “Making Cohousing Affordable”. Jeff grew up in Arizona and completed his Master’s in city and regional planning at Cornell University, later serving in the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development in Washington, D.C. where he worked on public sector redevelopment initiatives. He currently lives in Aria, a new cohousing community in Denver occupying a former nun’s convent.
Jan spent his day with the big hitters in cohousing development, Katie McCammant and Jim Leach. Katie, along with her husband Charles Durrett wrote the cohousing bible – “Creating Cohousing”. Jim and Katie each have over 30 years experience in developing cohousing. Katie is also a current consultant with Truckee Cohousing, and will be guiding us through our own journey in creating the future Truckee River Village.
Compared to Friday’s program, Saturday brought rapid-fire cohousing presentations, and again – many choices. One of the highlights was a breakfast keynote presentation by David Barrett – entitled “Living Together”. David is clearly a visionary for creating better communities. His 30 minute talk covered many aspects of what’s right about cohousing – at one moment, introducing us to a community in southern Colorado where members craft beautiful end of life ceremonies culminating in the public cremation of deceased members. He got us all laughing when he invited us all to his own public cremation at a future date yet to be determined!
Sunday wrapped-up the 3-day cohousing conference experience with site tours to two additional cohousing communities – Hearthstone Village in Denver, and Harmony Village in Golden. Harmony stole our hearts with its beautiful adobe homes, engaging community members, and meandering wide brick paths that were laid by actual community members, taking over 1 year to complete. The final result was magnificent!
It was quite the whirlwind experience in cohousing, and we can’t wait til next year when we can send other members from Truckee to soak up even more information. This certainly has put wind in our sails, and with an 8 acre parcel currently under contract on West River Street, the timing couldn’t have been better!
Contributed by John Stanec