Re: Affordable Rental Cohousing grand opening tomorrow: Petaluma Ave. Homes
From: Annemarie Goslow (
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 23:14:58 -0700 (PDT)

 As a resident of Petaluma Ave. Homes and a long-time lurker on this list, I 
thought I'd send a note about our experience so far.  I'm curious how the 
grand-opening will go myself (AHA is organizing it, not the residents), and 
also what other cohousers will have to say about the community, the process, 
the site etc.

We are in a very interesting position here.  Unlike most (all?) other cohousing 
communities out there, we have not had years of group building, meetings, 
decision-making experience under our belt before building and moving in 
together.  As far as the community aspects of this community, we've put the 
cart before the horse - it was built, we moved in, then we got to know (some 
of) our neighbors, and started to create committees to begin to make the many 
decisions we now find ourselves faced with.  Many decisions were made for us, 
especially physical ones (ie. the common house was built and furnished for us), 
others we've made (ie. what to plant in the garden) and others are crying out 
to be made (ie. how should meetings be conducted and decisions made anyway?!)  
The question right now is not so much how to keep the sense of group solidarity 
alive, but how to create it in the first place.  And that with half the 
residents not yet involved in the group.

In the few weeks we've been interacting and having meetings, there are already 
some interpersonal issues coming up, and no official way to deal with them yet. 
 (The Conflict Resolution committee hasn't met yet, the Heart committee only 
once... you get the picture!)  It is exciting to be creating all this, and also 
exhausting, which probably sounds familiar to anyone who was in on the 
beginnings of their community.  But in our case, we're all living together 
already.  I think it is new territory for everyone involved - whether they're 
experienced in community or not.

All that said, it is also an amazing project to be a part of.  We are in a 
beautiful site and town, and have a lot of people who want to make things 
happen, are excited about cohousing, and thankful to have found a way in when 
we couldn't afford to buy.  There are wonderful conversations starting, a 
gratitude circle, an impromptu mother's day brunch organized by some of the 
dads, happy children running around - I personally am very happy here, even 
with all the work yet to be done.

I do expect to be writing again soon with very specific questions, but this is 
all for now. :)
-Annemarie Goslow-Zwicker

> ------------------------------
> Message: 4
> Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 11:07:04 -0500
> From: Raines Cohen <rc3-coho-L [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Affordable Rental Cohousing grand opening tomorrow
>       (Sebastopol, CA):       Petaluma Avenue Homes
> To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-L [at]>
> Message-ID:

> Note from Raines:
> Sebastopol is in Sonoma County; North San Francisco Bay Area, a lovely
> little town "off the freeway" just enough to have some character, and
> I believe now the California community with the most cohousing per
> capita and tied with Davis for number of established cohousing
> neighborhoods, and leading in affordable cohousing, with a
> sweat-equity homeowner project across town, the 20-unit Sequoia
> Village, quietly completed by Burbank Homes this year. It is in the
> heart of the North Bay's "cohousing belt", with one cohousing
> community in each adjacent town/city to the North, East, and South,
> and forming communities with sites the next town over North and East.
> There are no openings at Petaluma Avenue homes at this time (as far as
> we know), this is just the official public "ribbon-cutting" completion
> ceremony. We'd love for any interested cohousers in the area to
> participate and report back on the feel of the place, the community
> amenities, and how they are going to keep the sense of group
> solidarity alive for people often struggling with basic
> survival/shelter issues. The developer has engaged Eris Weaver from
> nearby FrogSong cohousing in Cotati, an experienced group facilitator
> and trainer, to work with the community and provide group development
> services.

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