Re: Solar Eco-Village in Utah!
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 15:30:20 -0700 (PDT)
Charles and Janis -

That's a great vision you have for Utah Valley Commons. I've been
following the progress of your group for some time, looking forward to
a second cohousing neighborhood in Utah.

However, it does seem to me to be rather forward to be so specific
about all the attributes of the place before there's a there there, so
to speak... your website mentions consideration of several potential
sites, but I find it hard to imagine that every single item you list
will be possible and suitable for every site you select.

And how about if future members have different priorities or ideas..
will they be welcome? I might be reluctant to join a group that was so
seemingly certain about the plan for 40 homes when just a few
households were engaged.

What might be more illuminatory and enticing in engaging your future
members could be more depth to the vision and how it came to be. Get
people exposed to some of the process that leads to answer questions

* Why timber-frame straw bale, as opposed to Structural Insulated
Panels (SIPs)? Why detached vs. attached homes?

* What values are encapsulated in taking responsibility for your own
water source AND treatment onsite, and what limitations does this
place on potential locations for the community? (i.e. most urban
jurisdictions require sewer tie-in and have water rights tied up
already). If you found a site that was "easy commuting distance to
Provo" but didn't meet those specifications to the letter, would you
move forward with it?

* What kind of time commitment and resident education will be involved
in growing most of the community's own food, rather than the 1-3% at
most that is typical of most cohousing to date?

While your website has great pictures, the language slips between
tenses at points... i.e you say it IS a condominium association,
although unless Utah law is far different from most states' in this
regard, you don't create a condo association until the land is secured
and development is underway... your "Legal" page makes it clearer, but
it doesn't lead to greater engagement and commitment by talking about
all the different options to join the LLC or association.

I also wanted to flag where you say 'We also prefer land that is
"raw," and therefore uncontaminated with artificial chemicals and
toxic substances.' While it may be possible to find a site that's
never been mined or ranched or farmed with new toxics introduced or
old ones exposed, of course there are plenty of naturally occurring
toxics in land and water, and potential vulnerabilities to ones from
nearby sites.

You might want to enrich your website with more about the region,
unless you expect most of your members to be familiar with it. Why
would somebody want to move there? Help people fall in love with the
place, and then join you in refining your vision and matching it to
on-the-ground potential.

Will I be seeing any Utah Valley Commoners at the National Cohousing
Conference in Seattle this month? It would be great to explore your
vision further and see how partners in the movement can help you make
it a reality.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing

just off the phone from coaching a forming group in Southern CA that
found us via the Coho/US website, after spending a year trying to
figure out how to get started.

Reminding everyone to register today for the national conference for
the best rates, if you want to get some free Cohousing Coaching at our

Fresh from Saturday's Daily Acts Cohousing Coalescing driving tour of
North Bay communities, Petaluma to Santa Rosa, which I carpooled with
my Berkeley neighbor in a plug-in hybrid carshare vehicle, and toured
several potential community sites afterwards.

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