Re: Post Move-In
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Sun, 10 May 1998 18:52:39 -0500
 From Lynn Nadeau at RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend Washington ( a 
couple of hours from Seattle). We are a "lot development" model, and 
members have progressively gotten around to building on their lots and 
moving here.  I have now lived on site for a year and a half, and I can 
make a number of positive observations. We have 20 families, with 10 in 
residence. When I moved over to the site, there were five other families. 
Even with this small number of families on site, I have had a very 
positive experience of the advantages of mutual helpfulness which come 
with cohousing. 

Most of it is "little stuff" but it makes daily life easier. Next-door 
neighbor is  away skiing and I see her solar-water panels on the roof are 
leaking-- something froze and cracked. Fortunately, I have a key to her 
house, know who installed her hydronic system, and am able to get service 
folks to check it out, turn stuff off and drain it so no further damage 
happens.  Take in a trash can, turn on the heat for someone arriving from 
Seattle after an absence. Yesterday I borrowed an electric lawn mower 
from one family, an extension cord from another, and a Japanese sickle 
from another. My garden bed is doing well, with a soaker-hose system 
another member set up for me. 

I've loaned camping equipment, and borrowed dishes. A neighbor and I are 
about to buy a push-mower together. I ran low on motor oil and borrowed 
what I needed. Help carrying a big piece of furniture. Delicious food at 
potlucks. Sharing my first spinach and bok choy. Receiving shrubs from 
folks who are leaving their old homes.  Caring for a geriatric cat while 
owners are on a month-long trip. Commiseration over the challenges of 
parenting, or house-designing, or work situations. 

A member in her late seventies went through terminal illness here. At the 
time there were just a few other families on site, but we took great care 
of her. One took care of all her finances, power of attorney, bill 
payments, etc. Another did all her food-coop shopping. Another made soups 
and organic grains for her. I did all her medical visits, driving her to 
out-of-town doctor visits, middle-of-the-night emergency room visits, 
emergency surgery, taking notes on what the doctors said, fetching her 
prescriptions. A couple of us took turns sleeping on her kitchen floor so 
she wouldn't be alone in her tiny house when she needed someone there.  
Her family, though not  far away, was estranged and not helpful. We were 
her family. We were who sat with her when she was dying. She felt content 
and cared for.

 And what connected us to start with, was the idea that we were in 
community together and were "supposed" to look out for each other. Social 
karmic investment. Taking care of her was a very community-building 
factor among those of us who shared the tasks. Common purpose.

We've also done a lot of "musical chairs" with our housing, as people 
sell their previous house before or after their RoseWind home is ready to 
move into. Currently we have one family taking care of property they have 
in Puerto Rico. House- and dog-sitting for them for the month is  a 
member who still is trying to sell his home in Portland. Another home got 
completed but the owners weren't ready to move, and now they are renting 
to members whose house sold quickly, but whose new construction here 
won't be done for a few more months.  Yet another Seattle family solved 
their interim "homelessness" by renting the old home of a now-resident 
family. And so on!

Maybe the key is not expecting a radically "peak" experience: little 
stuff can affect your quality of life too. I love being here, and look 
forward to the ever-increasing possibilities of interactions as more and 
more of our families get homes built and moved into.        Best, Lynn

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