Perhaps another new group, perhaps Bellingham, WA
From: Greg Hope (
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2007 18:26:32 -0800 (PST)
Greetings to all! My wife and I are just at the stage of learning about cohousing, small houses, and everything in between. For the last couple years we have been exploring the northwest, principally Portland and western Washington (and even Vancouver BC!). Currently we are leaning toward Bellingham, WA, but the research continues and we are open to surprises. In addition to extensive web searching, our learning experience includes a recent visit with a group in Washington who are in the very early stages of planning, plus an upcoming visit with a group in San Diego.

Because cohousing is in our range of possibilities and because these projects begin with a shared vision, we gave some thought to ours and are sharing it here. Some things that are important to us, and that we hope are important to some likeminded people who have not yet found just the right project include:

-- Privately owned, detached homes with traditional cohousing features, e.g., a common house, a car-free neighborhood center, a community garden, etc. We have experience living in a neighborhood with an HOA and collective management of common property, but we are definitely not seeking condo dwelling or repurposed apartments.

-- The region will be generally progessive and preferably not far from a university or other educational center. We're fleeing from the land of SUVs and "family values" that look more like gated communities. For this reason, we're currently leaning toward Bellingham, WA.

-- The preferred property (not yet identified) will be close to a walkable community, with a market and other services nearby. This is a biggie. We would like to downsize to one vehicle and feet, and this does not seem as likely with a rural location.

-- Quality in design, materials and workmanship will absolutely prevail over savings in cost or a shorter time to move-in. We have seen the homes of Ross Chapin, Peter Bergford and other builders who take immense pride in their work, and this is what we're seeking. Small is great - inexpensive and fast are not. We also wish to support green building practices and this, too, trumps cost savings or speedy construction.

-- Diversity in culture, age, gender, lifestyle and other ways of being human are all important to us and we want to live in a community that embraces and exhibits variety!

-- We embrace many of the ecofriendly practices that we see in cohousing communities: recycling, composting, sharing, sustainable living, and we hope to find these values in the same people who value the significant elements listed above.

Some places we have visited and marveled at include the following. We have wished that we could "cherry-pick" the best qualities of each of these cases and somehow merge them into the neighborhood we're dreaming of.

Umatilla Hill
13th Avenue Bungalows
Orenco Station
Donovan Farm

We're sure there will be many who browse our list above and conclude that we're asking for too much in a single community. However, we're hoping that there will be a few people out there who shout, "Us! You're looking for us!"

Alternately, perhaps someone will shout, "We know a group you should check out." We're energetic, resourceful and have broad experience, but we prefer to not be the only "source of fire" for a development group.

Thanks to those who read this far and to those who have guidance to share.

Greg and Catalina
Vista, CA

Less work, more play!

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