While up in British Columbia on a skiing trip last month I took the opportunity to visit Heddlestone Village, a cohousing community in Nelson, BC. I had stumbled upon their website a few months back, as had a few other Truckee Cohousers, and was excited to to check out the town of Heddlestone which is in a community that is known for its outdoor play and enjoyment the seasons — including moving snow around — similar to Truckee. Further, from images I’d seen of their project, I was impressed with the architecture of Heddlestone. I met up with Tara, Andrew, and Teslin who were with Heddlestone Village from its inception. Tara and Andrew each had lead roles in making their cohousing a reality and were the perfect people to sit down and talk with.
Over the next 3 hours I enjoyed their hospitality and openness in answering my unending questions. Some of the main takeaways from the discussions centered around the importance of socializing. Playing together, drinking together, and breaking bread together are activities that are much more important, especially on the front end, than solely focusing on next steps and actions to continue the project moving forward. Both Tara and Andrew stressed the importance of site design and architecture in creating social interactions. They shared that many architects will try to talk you out of these seemingly unconventional design elements and it’s important to “hold your architect’s feet to the fire” when necessary.
Next I went on a walking tour of Heddlestone Village. They have the luxury of several and have big spaces for gardens and play areas for the kids. Everyone entering the community walked through the Common House to get to the central walkway which lead to 12 duplex units. As you walk into the central walkway, you are greeted with an amazing 5 foot tall mechanical flower sculpture that blossoms with the turn of a wheel. The Common House was well thought out with a commercial kitchen, dining area, reading room, kids’ rumpus room, laundry area, Yoga/ utility room, teenager hangout zone, and two guest rooms. The site plan was well thought out so you couldn’t help but run into your neighbors as you went about your day. A unique element that I appreciated was that each home designed their own short path from the walkway to their front door with stonework and clever artistic cement work to welcome you to their home. Snow clearing was a shared task, with each family taking on a week of keeping the central walkway clear through the winter.
My hosts then treated me a a lovely dinner and I continued to appreciate their insight and recommendations as we are getting up and going with our Truckee River Cohousing community. In the end, I felt that I had found the most patient, thoughtful, and… well perfect family to learn from as we dive into our project.
Contributed by Dan Martin