resident participation in design
From: NKaten947 (
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 18:34:02 -0600 (MDT)
I wasn't able to send this out when this topic was on the list because I was 
in the process of moving,   But because this was such an important part of 
our development, I wanted to add Bellingham Cohousing's experience to the 
list.  Kate N. Nichols

At Bellingham Cohousing we participated in the individual home programming. 
We tried doing it on our own, but we weren't successful.  Then we hired The 
Cohousing Company to help us design our community. We really enjoyed the 
process. It was fun to sit down and discuss and dream about our houses with 
others who would live in our same house type. And we worked out designs that 
we felt would benefit all the other people who would live in that house type. 
It was also a good community building activity.  

It was our chance to add features that we might not have had otherwise.  I 
enjoy having my young daughter, Emily, sitting at the kitchen counter while 
I'm cooking so she can help with the cooking or just talk to me while she 
someone else wanted a small pantry in the kitchen; Mary emphasized the light 
that we need in our rainy climate. Chuck Durrett listened to our ideas and 
now we have pantries, "Emily's peninsula" in the kitchen and people walk into 
my house and comment on the wonderful light because of the additional 

The design development was the fun part of the development process after all 
the legal work, the worry about marketing, figuring out a development 
strategy, a budget- it was fun to sit down and talk about & dream about the 
space we might live in.

It is really a remarkable experience for me to walk into a village that I 
helped design.  We discussed sitting in the common house looking out over the 
wetland and Chuckanut Mountains, and now I can do it. It is delightful to 
enter the community and discover the view - that we wanted to be surprised 
by.  And to sit out on our porches on a sunny day & chat with people as they 
walk by. And we've already had our first dance in the common house - on the 
good, danceable floor that we wanted.   

The architects added features that enhanced our dreams.  Katie McCamant did a 
wonderful job with our common house. It is warm and inviting. The great room 
has wonderful acoustics and is light and spacious. It is more than I ever 
dreamed of.  We let Chuck choose the colors and our village is vibrant with 
color: pine green, dark yellow and barn red, with cedar shake on top.  It is 
wonderful to be surrounded by so much color on gray days.  

I think it really helps in marketing to be able to explain why a house has a 
certain feature and to understand the value of our homes. I also think that 
participating in the design process helps people become invested in the 
    We also used the individual house programming as a level of commitment 
and we had one household drop out, but others joined at that point so they 
could participate in the workshop.

It was a privilege to work with Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett. The 
experience that they brought to our project was invaluable. Katie was 
instrumental in moving us forward in the development of our project. Her 
knowledge and expertise helped the group make decisions in one evening that 
we had been struggling with for a year-and-a-half. In addition she helped us 
face the realty of what we could afford. And Chuck put his heart and soul 
into our project. We can feel the caring that he brought to our project.  He 
fought for the quality that we wanted. He listened to our ideas and made them 
a reality.  Both of them worked hard for our project with great integrity. 

Bellingham Cohousing is almost complete. We are waiting for some sunny 
weather to finish the exterior painting. And people are waiting with trowels 
and shovels to plant after the topsoil is spread.  We still have two 
three-bedroom homes for sale and one larger two bedroom. If you'd like to 
come visit us, please email Kate @ nkaten947 [at]

Larry Menninga
Kathleen Heft
Gretchen Waldenberg
Angus and Rommie McLane
Nancy Simmers
Mark Harfenist
Bill Hinely
Lesley Rigg
Marinus Van de Kamp
Paula Gilmour
David Longdon
Celie Lloyd
Anne Larson Casey
Even though I wasn't here for the initial planning it is helpful for me to
know that BCG members were instrumental in the design process and  tell me
how things came to be the way they are today.   Carol Butz

Kate N. Nichols, 
for Bellingham Cohousing

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