Re: Common House as a lifeboat
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Tue, 25 May 2021 14:51:01 -0700 (PDT)
We have a (or several?) generator(s) that keep our pumps going so we
have water and sewer in a power outage.
The excess from that keeps some things in the common house going--heat
and electric in the great room, kitchen, niche (and maybe one more
room?) Wifi. Refrigerator. Lights.

We have a massive gas stove that cannot be run without the safety hood
which runs on electric. It is too much to put that on our generator,
so we have two electric burners next to the stove that are on the

We wonder if a bigger generator would have been a good idea? I think 3
households now have their own personal generators as well.

During our worst power outage (three days I believe) we also ran
extension cords to many homes to power their refrigerators.
Although it was a winter storm our homes are super insulated and were
warm enough for sleeping.
There was a moment of panic when one generator failed and we couldn't
flush, but that was quickly fixed and now is tested regularly.

[We also have a "plan" to be very friendly to the neighboring coho in
a bigger disaster, because they have many trainer archers so we hope
they will share food from the forest with us. They also have done many
larps and so know how to evade vampires. I expect their "plan" is that
our community, which is near the entrance to our shared land, will be
their warning system when the hordes try to take over.]


On Tue, May 25, 2021 at 5:23 PM Bryan Bowen <bryan [at]> wrote:
> CoHousing Houston, Heartwood Commons Tulsa, and Treehouse Village
> EcoHousing are all doing levels of this. Really depends on your climate and
> what disasters you face. I'd say generally that these measures include:
>    - Providing battery or generator back up to critical common house
>    circuits (maybe home ones or emergency site lighting)
>    - Making sure the CH retains cooking capability throughout
>    - Protecting WiFi or other communications as much as you can in the CH,
>    including cell phone chargings, etc.
>    - Hardening the CH (or safe rooms in units) to tornados, designing to
>    withstand hurricanes or freezing temps, etc.
>    - Making it so you can "island" the CH so it has good "passive
>    survivability"
> The biggest factor in disaster resilience is knowing your neighbors, so
> cohousing starts with a leg up. Having some social infrastructure in place
> is a good way to make sure everyone is covered when bad things happen.
> - b
> BRYAN BOWEN    |    PRINCIPAL   |    AIA   |    LEED AP
> *caddis collaborative*
> 1510 Zamia Ave #103
> Boulder, CO 80304
> 303 443 3629
> On Tue, May 25, 2021 at 3:16 PM Kay Wilson <kwilsonfisk [at]> 
> wrote:
> > Some years ago when we were relatively new, we packed large (30 gallon?)
> > plastic tubs with enough "gruel" to feed everyone for something like 2
> > weeks. We used a recipe that someone found for the gruel, which I think
> > consisted of a mix of dried beans, rice, and vegetables. I think the gruel
> > is supposed to last something like 20-30 years.
> >
> > Kay Wilson
> > Meadow Wood Cohousing
> > Bremerton, WA
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l-bounces+kwilsonfisk=
> > [at]> On Behalf Of Dean smith via Cohousing-L
> > Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2021 12:14 PM
> > To: cohousing-l [at]
> > Cc: Dean smith <deansmith4 [at]>
> > Subject: [C-L]_ Common House as a lifeboat
> >
> > Has anyone considered equipping their Common House to serve the community
> > through extended natural disasters.  I’m thinking of situations like a
> > major earthquake on the west coast, extended loss of power, utilities
> > disruptions (water, sewer)..  What might be good goals for such a plan and
> > how would one implement it?  We are in our design phase now and what should
> > be be planning?
> >
> > Dean Smith
> > Sunnyside Village Cohousing
> > Marysville, WA
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(The Rev. Dr.) Elizabeth Mae Magill
Pastor, Ashburnham Community Church
Minister to the Affiliates, Ecclesia Ministries

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