Williams Oregon Community Proposal
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 93 05:24 CST


COHOUSING-L Sysop's note: The proposers not themselves on Internet; this
article was received from a net connected friend of theirs.  It is a
long statement of their proposal, 290 lines long total.    To follow up:
Write or call: Kevin/Melanie, 130 4th Street, Ashland, OR 97520
                              (503) 482-7909
                           Two world traveling, skeptical,
     spiritual, self-employed, creative bohemians with
     incredible land seek a select, eclectic assortment of
     responsible, interesting people of any race, gender or
     sexual preference to live together forever and ever.
     We love children, mountains and wordplay.
                           What follows is, in a way, a
     glorified personal ad.  Hopefully, you'll be both
     patient and interested.  Read on.
       Why intentional community? We feel that certain
     social arrangements of the past -- the extended family,
     the tribe, the village -- offer lessons for combating
     the alienation of late 20th century life.  These
     "relics" of the past can be a clue to creating new
     forms that transcend the limitations of isolated
     nuclear families and individuals in providing such
     things as child care and emotional, intellectual and
     physical support.
       Our vision of community is one of living among our
     friends, family and co-workers.  It involves working
     and playing together, celebrating life and seasonal
     passages and addressing problems and solving them
     together.  For us, community provides for a more
     comfortable, interesting and healthy existence than
     living by ourselves in city, suburb or country.
       Rural co-housing (in effect a small, planned
     community development with separate houses/kitchens,
     community building and a commons) offers the physical
     infrastructure for achieving much of the above, the
     private spaces taking the rough edges off of unlimited
     interpersonal interactions.  However, we expect people
     to want to have a high level of involvement in the
       We would like to see the following: childcare
     provisions (and with the right people possibly co-
     parenting); intergenerational involvement -- children
     and parents of parents; a sense of personal and
     community responsibility; interest in progressive
     politics, feminist values, personal growth and self-
     examination, involvement in local and no-so-local
     issues of the day; playfulness; some land-based
     business, such as farming or cottage industry; self-
     employed people; creative people.
       What wouldn't work for us?  Dogmatic spiritualism,
     heavy or dependent use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco;
     survivalist with end-of-civilization illusions; people
     who are homophobic, racist or mysogenistic; people with
     a history of violence or abusive behavior; growing or
     selling of drugs.  The OCA,  Ronnie Reagan, Pat
     Buchanan or Rush Limbaugh need not apply.
       We are committed to using consensus process in our
     community, at least for important decisions.  We feel
     it is the best method of decision-making because it
     allows all opinions to be aired, a synthesis of
     different ideas and needs can be formed, and solutions
     can be agreed upon which look toward cooperation and
     participation of all parties.
       The land we've bought is in the Williams valley of
     Southern Oregon.  We chose Southern Oregon because land
     is relatively inexpensive; there are a variety of
     cultural activities in the area; and we are out of the
     immediate impact of large urbanized zones, but we can
     still go to San Francisco or Portland -- a half day's
     journey away.
       Our lovely site lies at the foot of the Siskiyou
     Mountains.  A tributary of the Applegate River,
     Williams is a minor agricultural region of farms and
     ranch land surrounded by mixed conifer forested
     mountains with Grayback Mountain (over 7,000 feet) at
     the head of the valley.  Our land is in the flat part
     of the valley with south facing views of the mountains
     across our meadow.  The 43+ acres includes a 5 acres
     spring-fed reservoir, about 10 acres of field and
     meadow, with the remainder primarily mixed pine and fir
     forest with some oak and madrone.
       The "town" of Williams has a post office, general
     store, care, gas station, a few other small businesses,
     library, public elementary school and a parent-run
     alternative school.  There are a large number of
     "alternative" people living in the area.  Sources of
     full employment in the valley are minimal.  The closest
     towns are Grants Pass (20,000 people, 30 minutes away),
     a retirement community and whitewater rafting capital;
     Medford (50,0000 people, 45 minutes away), which has a
     large wood products and canning industry, the largest
     city of Southern Oregon; and Ashland (16,000 people, 60
     minutes away), a cultural center noted for theater,
     tourist and college economy.
       The land is at 1500 feet elevation, getting
     occasional winter snow.  The frost-free period is
     usually considered to be May through September.
     Summers are sunny and hot with occasional
     thundershowers.  Spring and fall are variable,
     alternating periods of rain and lovely balmy days.
     Southern Oregon is known for its orchards, especially
     apples, pit-fruits and pears, vineyards and livestock
     ranches.  Our fields are primarily a silty loan with
     sandier sections and some subirrigated acres.  The
     field/meadow has been dry farmed in the past.  Most of
     the land has been maintained for its timber potential,
     but has not been recently cut.
       The land is fairly private, both from the county
     road and other dwellings.  It has good access roads,
     three good wells and access to another spring/pond area
     -- all of which have done very well in prolonged
     drought conditions.  The reservoir, built in the '20s,
     is used for swimming and fishing (nativized bass,
     bluegill and trout).  On the land is a contemporary,
     over 3,000 square foot house with 5 bedrooms and a
     large garage, an 800 square foot workshop and a 1500
     square foot mobile home.  The land is zones so that we
     can legally have 8 dwellings.  There are potential
     homesites at the edge of the meadow or in more private,
     wooded locations.  Fire protection services are just
     minutes away.
  WHO WE ARE (or Were)
       Melanie's story:  In my early years I danced,
     investigate psychology and spiritually and way very
     involved in anti-nuclear politics, especially
     nonviolence preparation, group facilitation and direct
     action.  My "working" career has been in law,
     bookkeeping and small business administration.  My
     current interests are: healing myself to enable another
     pregnancy and participate more in dance, gardening and
     building; designing and managing our building projects
     and business affairs; cultivating new friends in
     Southern Oregon and potential community members.  I am
     38 years old.
       Kevin's tale: Now 35, my profession is fine-art
     photography and shooting for photo stock-houses.  A
     native Oregonian, my forebears homesteaded very close
     to Williams in the last century.  My interests include
     contact improv dancing; art-doing it, talking it,
     seeing it;  history; politics; travel abroad;
     mountaineering; discussion; carpentry; ritual;
     community affairs; coffee; and romantic gossip.  Am I
     eclectic yet?
       We have been in a committed relationship for six
     years.  We share in common an enthusiastic but
     realistic belief in intentional community.  We have
     lived in less ambitious community schemes for over 12
     years, mostly in Santa Cruz, including exciting,
     political co-op houses and our own land where 4-7
     adults plus kids experimented with community methods.
     This land became too small for us once people started
     having children.  We share a commitment to progressive
     social change, both political and personal.  In so much
     as it is possible without becoming didactic zealots, we
     have tried to live our ideals.  Responsibility in our
     personal lives is am important and natural value;
     living simply and with low impact on the planet.  We
     have a rather personal sense of the spiritual,
     reflecting neo-pagan, inner journeying, nature-
     respecting beliefs.  We don't follow anyone.  We are
     interested in raising children in a supportive
     environment.  After the tragic loss of a newborn in
     1992, we are working on medical issues to prevent a
     repetition in the future.  We may adopt.
       We moved to Southern Oregon in 1992 to set the
     groundwork for a potential community.  We now live in a
     small house in Ashland, scheming.
       We're not planning to write our by-laws until we
     have at least a couple more families involved in the
     project.  Early members get lots of input.  Ideally, we
     would like to community to be owned on a completely
     egalitarian basis: one family/household = one share;
     one share = a fraction of total cost.  If we have 8
     households, we each own 1/8 of everything except our
     own house.  Questions to be resolved: What do we do
     while looking for those 8 households:  What if we never
     get the full number?
       The cost will be somewhere between $55,000 - $70,000
     per household not including the building of your house.
     A more detailed financial breakdown is available to
     those who are interested.  We recognize that we may
     need to hold several shares for some period of time
     while we look for more members.  We're willing to do
     this up to a point.
       Early members will choose among several legal
     possibilities, including condominium-style ownership,
     co-op, land trust or dividing the land into individual
     parcels.  We're initially open to any of these options.
       To keep the community intact, we will need to have a
     buy-out plan.  We favor one which is heavily weighed
     towards the viability of the community without being a
     rip-off to the individuals who need to leave.  Some
     ideas which are being tossed around are:
                           1. limiting future appreciated
     value to a certain percent per year;
                           2. allowing an extended period
     for buy-out to be arranged, at least 2 years.  During
     this time,  the household be rented (Williams is a
     desirable rental area);
                           3. limiting dollar amount or
     size of houses.  For example, you could build a 3,000
     square foot house,   but only 1,500 square feet would
     be included in buy-out amount.
       We feel strongly that it should be possible for some
     people to live in our community who do not have the
     resources to invest.  Rental, work exchange or other
     possibilities should be part of our agreement.  Other
     issues which will need to be addressed in our by-laws
     include: shared responsibility for land maintenance and
     community property; whether building code is required;
     possible design review; limitation on mortgages which
     could negate our buy-out arrangements.
       Finally, it is not our intention to offer employment
     or financial assistance to members.  You will need to
     have income from outside the community.  The land could
     probably support one or two people through farming, but
     it would be totally the responsibility of those wishing
     to do it.
       Still interested?  Or better, more interested?  You
     might want to see the place.  Here's the scoop.  Our
     home in Ashland is an hour away from Williams.  We
     don't plan to move to the land until we have other
     potential members to live there with us.  We hope this
     will happen in 1994.  You should first make a short
     visit of 2-3 days.  Please check with us in advance.
     That way we can meet you, answer your questions face to
     face and give you the guided tour.  After we move to
     the land, you will be able to stay with us there.
       After an initial visit, if you are really
     interested, we would want you to come for a longer
     visit/pre-trial period of 2-3 weeks duration when we
     can get to know each other better and experience our
     styles of living, working, talking.  We will make time
     during this visit to share ideas about the form and
     direction of the community, taking your suggestions
     into serious consideration.  On this longer visit, we
     would expect you to contribute to food and utilities.
     Consider it vacation time with some involvement in work
     projects such as gardening or building.
       Finally, if you decide this community could be your
     dream come true, we like you and feel that your
     involvement would work for all concerned, then you
     would be a provisional member for one year, with a
     review at 6 months.  At the end of that time, if
     accepted, you would be expected to invest and/or build.
     During that year, you would live in either the house,
     which would accommodate up to 2 families with a shared
     kitchen or the 3-bedroom mobile home.  You would pay
     rent or its equivalent during this time.  The probation
     period could be extended if either party is still not
       There should be a place for people who don't have
     money for buying in to rent or share special skills
     instead.  Nobody (except us) will be buying in until we
     have a firm committed group of at least 3 families or 2
     families and a couple of single people.
       Earlier in the process, provisional members would
     probably have full decision-making involvement in the
     selection of newer provisional members and in the
     writing of the by-laws.  By using consensus process, we
     are retaining the right to block any proposal or
     member.  Once a core group exists, provisional members
     would have input into decision-making, but no blocking
                           PARTICIPATE EARLY AND OFTEN IF
  Write or call: Kevin/Melanie, 130 4th Street, Ashland, OR
     97520; (503) 482-7909

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