getting off the ground
From: Don Westlight (
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2001 11:18:34 -0700 (MST)

Shelly DeMeo, Greater Hartford Cohousing <Tonka444 [at]> writes:

> Also, any inspiring stories of the dark times right before site
> acquisition might help our group and others in this difficult stage.


Hang in there.

Site selection is really tough, one generally thrashes around for a year
or so, and when opportunity finially does knock it is a glass half full
and half empty.  Nobody wanted to give us a city park either... we kicked
around fruitlessly until we discovered a parcel which had not gone on the
market yet.  We then had to decide more or less instantly, and while the
site has been a challenge in that it has two streams and protected
songbird habitat, it is beautiful and I believe we are doing it justice.

For me one of the hardest parts of getting a coho community going has been
saying goodbye to good friends along the way.  In a way, building a
community is a step by step process of trading horizon sized open ended
dreams for a few very specific dreams.  Every time our group made a
substantial decision during the development phases, one or more parties
took the opportunity to leave.  In particular, the choice of site, and the
terms of the bank deal were two watershed events where people, some of
them very good friends, simply left.  

This is a normal process, and in the face of it, we have built our
community, as have many other folks around the country.

I never did write a poem about site selection, but I did one about bankers
which I've appended, and as a postscript, we did get through it --
Cascadia Commons finished fourteen homes last August, and twelve more plus
the common house and shop will finish in March of this year.  We've still
got some available, but with a commute from Portland Oregon, I'll leave
the decision to you ;-)  Let it suffice that building a coho community is
possible to do, and that new people come along, but the only way it
happens is through sheer determination.  When one is in the thick of it,
the main thing is to keep on going and spread the work as evenly as

        Cheers and good luck


                        Don Westlight
                        Cascadia Commons Cohousing 

[August 1999 - Don Westlight]

Ode to Bankers, 

Why is it bankers never say no
always, one more condition
        one more form...
advice from this or that

Always polite
        "we'd love to help you."
several odd months later
        "we'd love to help you."
but no signatures
        only pending meetings

I, for one, am tired of waiting
        aren't we all
waiting for bankers feels 
        like a bad drug
I am not surprised
        by the letdown

I want a new damn bank
        a year ago.
I wonder what it is we need
        how many more times 
can we do this?

The saddest thing one can say
        of any dream
is that it became in the end
        a financial matter.

The precedent is clear
        we can have our dreams
or our money
        but doubtful both
I'd love to serve "banker on a stick"
        in the end, it is only an image

whatever happens
        we have come so far
Yes I'd like another "helping of banker"
The last one was too gritty.
        The one before that, stale.
Anybody got antacids?   


PS. Thoreau grows on me as time goes on.

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