|Re: Wonderful MAC Conference Yesterday||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Raines Cohen (rc3-coho-Lraines.com)|
|Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 06:38:58 -0700 (PDT)|
Sharon Villines <Sharon [at] sharonvillines.com> wrote 3/21/2010: > Ask Raines about the > rubber duckies. All I'll say is that they involved a top hat, > auctioneering skills, and a quacking good time. Actually, I have no auctioneering skills whatsoever. My RAFFLE-eering skills, on the other hand, is what I believe Sharon was commenting on - I got to exercise some of them at the last national conference as well. As to her mysterious reference to our amphibious friends: I was simply attempting to illustrate a point in the debate around the definition of cohousing: "If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck," I commented. It was just coincidence that at this point a dozen rubber ducks spilled out of my coachman's cap, buying us a little more time to get our raffle prizewinner-recording process ducks in a row before calling numbers. As part of the conference planning team working closely with Mid Atlantic Cohousing (MAC) to put on the event, I'll refrain from overall evaluative comments on the event (we are doing a debrief Wednesday evening, and would welcome any input from participants beyond what they already shared in their evaluations). I can report that I had a great time (to near the point of exhaustion, alas), and was impressed by the quality and quantity of conversations going on in the bookstore, out on the lawn, at the reception, and in the hallways, as well as on the community open houses/tours that followed. The University of Maryland Architecture building interior was eerily reminiscent of the one where we had last June's national conference at the University of Washington in Seattle. It was great to reconnect with local leaders like Liberty Village's Ron Petralito, who served on the Coho/US (then called The Cohousing Network) board with me a decade ago, as well as current national board president Lisa Poley of ShadowLake Village, and Dene Peterson, ElderSpirit founder,Takoma Village's Steve Pretl (a key association volunteer early in the last decade) and of course Zev and Neshama from Nomad Cohousing in Boulder, Colorado, the powerhouse movement couple who shepherded the organization's transition from regional support group to national umbrella nonprofit. As I mentioned in the closing, "We stand on the shoulders of giants." If only every region had a group as organized and active as MAC, I believe we would have twice as many communities established and in formation as we do now, more events taking place, and an easier path for community seekers. While the programming and attendees were primarily One seeker I met at the conference has already followed up with me for cohousing coaching around her quest for community, based on a conversation we had there Saturday. She wrote "The process for seekers is daunting. The e-list, magazine, websites, and conferences/activities present a very appealing lifestyle but the door in is not evident. I would love to connect with and network with others in the same process to share information and find some ideas for a more effective search." She is open to resettling in a wide area, and has identified nearly 40 cohousing neighborhoods that might meet her needs. It is worth noting that to her "on paper they all look alike with slight variation of location, numbers, housing, etc." The challenge she faces is that while she is working, she feels she doesn't have the time and money to travel, explore, and learn -- especially given the low turnover rates in many cohousing neighborhoods, which limit the odds of a home becoming available when she's looking. Back to the conference, though - she reported she had "good conversations with folks from Eastern Village (in Silver Spring, MD) and Takoma [Village] (less than a mile away in Washington, DC)." But she asks, "Given I live and work in DC, should I limit my search to those two communities because I can relate to them now even though I have not at all decided I want to stay in this area (and probably don’t) or to live in an urban community (don’t think I do)?" Another community she considered in the region, ElderSpirit, the only senior cohousing East of the Mississippi, has a long waiting list - and plans for a second nearby aging-friendly community are now on hold given regional housing-market-financing challenges. >From many other conversations at the conference and over the last decade, I know she's not alone. Some of the solutions I'm exploring include: * Regular conference calls for community seekers -- a support group, a place to compare notes and get group guidance on experiences, approaches, and resources * Promoting regional get-togethers through groups like MAC, the Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA), and Cohousing California. * Web tools that make it easier for seekers to find each other (and in some cases, to become a forming core group), rather than just finding communities. * A network that makes it easier for traveling cohousers to get opportunities to speak about community living, both for established communities and future cohousers. We regularly do this with East Bay Cohousing -- both touring visiting cohousers around area communities, getting them to share about their best practices and community challenges, as well as the joys of community living. * Workshops designed to help people experience cohousing before moving in -- both in established communities and in places like The Shaker Mill Farm Inn, a Berkshires (NY/MA border, near Tanglewood) retreat center I got to visit just before the conference, where the proprietor (who brought family and friends to the MAC conference) is eager to inexpensively host people seeking and forming community. I'd welcome any thoughts about what folks here think would be relevant, as well as any conference feedback. Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach http://www.CohousingCoach.com/ Planning for Sustainable Communities (at the Hub at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA)
- Wonderful MAC Conference Yesterday Sharon Villines, March 21 2010
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