Re: Dogs, clotheslines and other related matters
From: PattyMara (
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 14:45:53 -0600
Dear Marty and List,
>From Tierra Nueva Cohousing, on the central California coast, here is a
scattering of our experiences for the past six months of living in community:
 >>Public clothesline somewhere in the common area near the laundry room in
 common house.  Do you have one?  what are/were the issues around it?>>

We talked and talked and talked about clotheslines before we moved in.  There
is a small circle of folk in our group who use clotheslines, and are
enthusiastic about the energy saving aspects of not using an electric or gas
dryer when the sun is shining. I am a member of this circle.  Since we were
the ones who had the energy around it, we did the work of researching cost of
new clothelines, different shapes available, possible salvaging of already
existing lines, and of course, the location on site.  We brought all of our
findings to the group, made recommendations on style, cost and location, then
opened the discussion up to the members.  One or two members (neither of them
used clotheslines) had some issues on the spots we had chosen for the
location.  We compromised by agreeing that the locations be tried for six
months, then revisited if concerns still existed.  So, now we have a new
circular, single post aluminum clothesline outside the laundry room of the
common house and a traditional two post, salvaged clothesline at the far
western border of the site (next to our house, where there is a concentration
of clothesline users--we choose to walk the wet laundry a little farther).
One of the folks who originally was concerned with the circular clothesline
ruining his view recently commented that he actually enjoyed watching families
hanging up clothes, and is beginning to see it as a colorful addition to his

   >>Dogs - is there a fenced area where dogs can play together in your common
land somewhere?  what is the size?  any rules?  any issues, stories etc?>>

We've discussed a dog run/play area, but haven't created one yet, probably
because it isn't as needed as we thought it would be.  The cost of the fencing
would be an issue,  since there are other community issues that would take
priority.  Most likely if a dog run is decided upon, it will be financed and
built by the dog owners. And I would venture to say that it would have the
same six month proviso as the clotheslines.
 >>Veggie Garden - how is it managed - in general terms?  Do households have a
 private bed if desired?  Is all food for common use only?  do gardeners and
 nongardeners alike share the food equally?  Do kids have a space of their
 any problems with not enough food to go around? or TOO much food?!

Our community garden so far consists of a cover crop which we will be tilling
soon, and a big package of seeds that just arrived from the seed supplier.  We
also have two compost heaps in full operation, teeming with redworms.  One is
located near the common house kitchen, and the other on the edge of the site.
We'll soon be moving them to the garden site.  Visions for the garden so far,
are that it be a community effort (no private beds--we'll use our own yards
for that).  It will be managed by the garden committee--those folks who are
burning souls for gardening--and anyone who wants to work will be welcomed.
>From what I can gather from discussions so far the harvest will be designated
first for common meals, then surpluses given to the gardeners and then the non
gardeners.  So the bounty will be shared by all who partake in community
meals, then rewarded to those who do the work, then the non gardeners.  This
is all supposition, we'll see how it goes.  We do plan to designate a
children's garden for them to plant, caretake and enjoy.  We have a small
circle of avid canners as well, and plan to "put up" as much produce as we can
this summer and fall for future use and our emergency food supply.
 >>Meals - we still have a ways to go here in our planning, but any brilliant
 suggestions or funny stories would be great - the usual stuff:  how many
 nights do you eat together, how often do you cook, what percentage of the
 community comes?  how are kids managed (or not)? all eat at the same time or
 staggered? etc..>>

Our newly named community meals partnership "Comida Nueva" has organized our
meals to be 3 nights a week.  In February we are doing a potluck on Monday
nights, since we discovered that we still enjoy potlucks (we've had SO much
practice doing potlucks over the past 10 years), then team-prepped meals on
Wednesdays and Saturday nights.  In March we will do team-prepped meals on
Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday nights.  Then, we'll evaluate how it went, and
redesign accordingly.  For the first 5 months of us all moving in, we
organized a dinner group which then morphed into loosely structured teams of
volunteers who cooked whenever we wanted to.  So now we are trying out a more
structured approach.  With the 27 households, we've calculated that each adult
"can" sign up for 2 meals per month to either be on a cook/prep team of 3 or
on a clean-up team of 3.  We've learned that the job is way too involved to
expect the cooks to clean up too.  When small teams of 2 or 3 tried to do all
the work of planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and cleanup we experienced
some temper flares and burnout.  I enphasized the word  "can"  above because
we're trying not to legislate how often members work.  We hope that it will be
an enjoyable commitment that is not required, but rather anticipated.  We'll

What percentage of the members come to eat?  Well, it depends on the menu and
who is cooking!  On average, I would say 30 adults and 5 kids eat together.
But if a favorite menu is posted that is kid friendly, or exotic, or cooked by
a team that has done great meals before, then the attendance jumps to 40-50

We always have a vegetarian option, since we have a lot of vegetarians
here...and there has been some talk about a team of guys doing a big Meat
Night meal soon.    
 >>Landscaping:  Is the area in front of each home - facing common space -
 considered a private front yard or part of the commons in terms of landscape?
 Is it one unified, well-maintained landscape design, or do folks do whatever
 they want or don't want in front of their house?  Any stories about kid
 impacts on landscaping?>>

The area around each house, our private lots (small but present) are
considered to be privately landscaped areas, to be done by each homeowner in
whatever design they choose, or not.  The common areas next to pathways and
around common house and other areas like the parking lots, the orchard and the
garden are commonly landscaped, serviced by drip irrigation.  There are some
grey areas that are both privately owned yards and next to pathways so we are
just winging it to see what needs to be done.  Landscaping is taking a
tremendous amount of energy these days with mulching, juting and planting
parties/workshops happening most every weekend, all at a time when we are low
energy from move-ins.  But it is bonded, and required by the county for
completion so we are working to finish it as soon as possible.  

Kid impacts?  We have kids helping us moving mulch, planting and watering.  We
haven't seen any disturbances yet by kids and don't expect to.  We have had
one of our pathway lights taken out by a toddler (as we expected--the design
is rickety and in my opinion, not appropriate) but no damage so far to the
plants and bushes and trees that have been planted.  The kids have been very
patient with the grass that has been seeded in the village green/play area.
Until it gets established no one is walking on it, and the kids are anxious to
have a play area of their own. 

So that's it from Tierra Nueva.  Best of luck to you at Two Acre Wood, and
keep us posted about "your" through the looking glass experiences.

Patty Mara Gourley  




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