1996 CA Cohousing Conference
From: MelaSilva (MelaSilvaaol.com)
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 18:28:33 -0500
   WOW!! Over 100 people attended our 3 day conference. We had a beautiful
facility, with a large auditorium where we also ate 5 meals, 3 rooms upstairs
for sessions, and a playground outside where we offered quality childcare for
the whole conference. We had 12 sessions, plus the slide show of best and
worst design features; a contra band and no host bar Saturday night; and even
a  Traditional Cohousing Leftovers Potluck at the last minute Sunday at noon.
We ate 10 dozen bagels donated by Noahs with 9# of cream cheeseand  9 # of
fruit salad,  10 pounds of  main dish salads (most a donation from the local
natural foods coop), washed  down with 10 gallons of juice and gallons of
coffee and tea, and finished it off with 20 # of apples, 15 # of grapes, 8
dozen muffins and 10 dozen cookies, also donated. Cohousers really know how
to eat!
    And talk! Our most popular sessions were "Making Decisions and Handling
Conflict", "Community Operations: Nuts and Bolts of Running Cohousing-
focusing on forms and formats", "Accomplishing Ideas in Designing for Low
Environmental Impact: Idealism meets Reality", and "Development Alternatives:
Group as Developer, Working with a Developer, Growing Organically". At the
closing session, Michael Black had everyone stand in a circle and we passed
around a wireless mike for evalutions. That always helps us close our
community meetings, and it was a VERY successful way to close the conference.
  For those of you who are organizing a session at a conference, many folks
would like to have handouts, even if they can't attend your session.
Presenters who had extras were much appreciated. Flip charts ready with main
points also really helped. Quickly breaking down into small groups was
poplular. Role playing by panalists at the "Making Decisons and Handling
Confict" session was VERY good. So were the forms and postings and organizing
stuff that people brought to share and show at the "Nuts and Bolts" session.
   We posted menus and made reservations at 5 restaurants for Saturday
dinner. People formed interest groups and went to dinner together. Sunday
afternoon we had tours of the 3 communities close by, Southside Park, N
Street and Muir Common. 
  We also posted a large map with colored dots showing the various
communities and whether they are occupied, under construction, have land and
/or architectual plans, or a group in the planning stage. It is fun and
 amazing  to see how quickly we have grown! 
  The planning started 6 months ago when David Mandel began  reserving our
great site, a band, bar, childcare, etc. He also got lots of donations which
enabled us to bring the cost down from $75 to $50 for groups of 5 or more,
low income folks, or panalists. It then took hundreds of hours by lots of
people to pull off this conference. If you have a conference coming up, DON'T
MISS IT!! It was very worth while for people in every stage of development,
and one of the few ways that those of us who live in different cohousing
communities get to know or even MEET each other.
   Now, back to the everyday world of cooking teams and work parties and

Mela Silva
Southside Park 
Sacramento CA  

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