Re: Words about Merlin
From: Caren Albercook (
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2004 11:20:29 -0700 (PDT)
Martie, That was beatiful, thankyou for sharing that
with us.  Caren

--- Martie Weatherly <martiew [at]> wrote:

> Liberty Village faced a devastating loss last week
> with the sudden death
> of our founder and dear friend, Merlin
> Porter-Borden. He was the one who
> heard about cohousing 15 years ago and never gave up
> or slackened in
> pouring his heart and soul into our community.  The
> best testimonial to
> the strength of the community he started has been
> how we have come
> together in the past week. I want to share some of
> that and then follow
> it with  the words I spoke at his memorial service
> about his role in
> Liberty Village.
> We came together that first night for dinner and
> have been eating a meal
> together every night since. The third night we had a
> sharing circle.
> There were about 30 people, mostly us with family
> and friends of Merlin.
>   We started slowly, with tears and remembrances,
> but as the time went
> on, we started including the things that ticked us
> off, too  - the way
> someone would say "ground source heating" and get a
> half hour talk, and
> then went on to the practical jokes he played. We
> talked, laughed and
> cried together for 2 and a half hours, and it was
> very healing.
> Our outside bulletin board has been most beautifully
> decorated with
> pictures of Merlin against a beautiful purple
> background, with fresh
> flowers and notes from friends.
> After the memorial service, we had almost 200 people
> back here for a pot
> luck. As usual, our community pulled it off without
> a hitch - picnic
> tables lines up, table cloths, flowers and lots of
> food. We reconnected
> with old friends and made new ones who knew Merlin.
> We are now facing our planning meetings for next
> year and are going to
> take time for people to share together in this
> family we have created.
> We will continue to support each other as we move
> ahead to fulfill his
> dream of building our common house and completing
> our community.
> Thanks to those who have sent condolences. Below is
> what I said at his 
> memorial service and it will give you a picture of
> him:
> Merlin has a tee shirt that he got at a national
> cohousing conference a
> number of years ago, the front of which says
> ?Cohousing? and the back of
> which says: the longest and most expensive personal
> growth therapy
> you?ll ever take!   For Merlin, after 15 years of
> personal growth,  he
> was still going strong. And you can believe that he
> was seeing that the
> rest of us were growing personally also.
> Merlin read about cohousing in an article that John
> Buetler wrote for
> the Common Market magazine in 1989. Merlin told me
> later that what
> interested him was that he wouldn?t have to drive
> his children to their
> friends? homes. He wanted his family to live in a
> community where his
> children knew everyone, where they could play freely
> with their friends,
> and where his neighbors worked together to make the
> community work ? in
> other words, cohousing.
> But Merlin wasn?t one to sit by and wait for someone
> else to make this
> kind of community happen. From that beginning idea
> in December of 1989,
> Merlin threw himself heart and soul into making the
> dream of cohousing
> become real.
> So with Tom Lofft and John Beutler, they started the
> daunting task of
> building a group and looking for land. It is amazing
> that in this day of
> large developers building cities out of large tracts
> of land, Merlin and
> his team kept following their dream, spending their
> Sundays looking at
> different parcels of land and having meeting after
> meeting after meeting.
> As an anonymous writer wrote about Commitment:
>       ?It is making the time when there is none. Coming
> through, time after
> time after time, year after year after year.
> Commitment is the stuff
> character is made of; the power to change the face
> of things. It is the
> daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.?
> That was Merlin.  The owners of the first property
> wouldn?t sell ? find
> another. The zoning for the Pride of Joy farm wasn?t
> right ? work with
> the county to write cohousing into the zoning. When
> we were digging
> wells, and the first five didn?t have enough water,
> try the sixth. When
> the sixth well didn?t work ? design another way.
> And he never gave up. He was never discouraged. He
> never complained. He
> never even seemed impatient. He just kept
> encouraging us to keep going,
> to work with the county, to have our dream
> community.
> So all of us who live in Liberty Village now, have
> him to thank. We
> wouldn?t be there except for him. We wouldn?t all
> have homes we love and
> a community that is family, not just neighbors.
> Liberty Village is just
> the best.
> But there is more. Merlin was one of the first
> people in this area to
> build cohousing. We now have six cohousing
> communities in the DC area,
> and he was the prime reason for three of them. He
> supported cohousing on
> a national level, went to conferences, put forth
> ideas on the cohousing
> listserve. He was always forwarding ideas to us ?
> read this about ground
> source heating ? here?s some more to read about
> consensus.
> Years ago when a woman with a disability wrote on
> the listserve,
> concerned that she wouldn?t be able to help her
> community enough, he
> answered:
>       ?People put into cohousing what they are willing,
> able and inspired to
> give. Of our 21 families, the range of effort
> expended ranges from huge
> to small, but we accept, gratefully, every small bit
> of help. We give
> without expectations for the level of effort of
> others.  The desire to
> help is nurtured in an environment of acceptance of
> whatever people are
> willing to contribute.?
> Merlin put in huge amounts of time. He was a member
> of the three man
> development team and reviewed the installation of
> all our
> infrastructure.  Before we lived here, when they
> planted the trees along
> the berm and they had to be watered, he actually got
> people up  to come
> out at 4:30 am to water them before it got too hot!
> He designed and put
> in a drip system for watering our trees (maybe to
> keep from having to
> get up at 4:30 all the time!). He designed our
> parking lot lights and
> did a large part of the work  He was on most of our
> major teams, came to
> meetings, took minutes, and was an administrative
> partner.
> Recently he spent hours reading about the problems
> with the sewage
> treatment system, talking to county staff, and
> commissioners and then
> explaining to us what it all meant.
> There are so many little things to thank Merlin for:
>  the system of
> moving our cars to clear the parking lots of snow
> (?first on the east
=== message truncated ===

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  • Words about Merlin Martie Weatherly, September 24 2004
    • Re: Words about Merlin Caren Albercook, September 25 2004

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