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Co-housing: 'it makes sense for people with things in common to live together' - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Co-housing: 'it makes sense for people with things in common to live together'
The Guardian
Schemes like this have been an established option in parts of mainland Europe since the 1970s – there are 200 senior co-housing schemes in the Netherlands alone, according to the UK Co-housing Network – but no one has successfully imported the model ...

Not A Group House, Not A Commune: Europe Experiments With Co-Housing - NPR (blog)

Cohousing News from Google -

NPR (blog)

Not A Group House, Not A Commune: Europe Experiments With Co-Housing
NPR (blog)
While still in architecture school, María García Mendez and Gonzalo Navarrete drafted a plan to re-design a high-density area of Alfafar, called Barrio Orba, using the principle of co-housing — in which residents trade and share space and resources, ...

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Marriage Aftermath

Laird's Blog -

Have you ever pondered the oddness of the term, "aftermath"?

I reckon you can conceive of it as what happens after you've totted up the pluses and minuses of a situation—which is a tender calculation I've just been going through with Ma'ikwe, after she announced eight days ago that our marriage was done.

As you might imagine, Ma'ikwe went through her own calculus in determining whether it was time to move on—and I believe she did this carefully and with sensitivity. While I'm not happy with her conclusion, I fully believe in her right to make this call. Good things don't happen from someone staying longer than they think is good, say because of guilt, obligation, or pity.

After I rode the first waves of emotional response on my own (and with the support of friends; I got a lot of email), Ma'ikwe and I began an email exchange that has been invaluable to me—which, ironically, showcased just how good our relationship can be—where we each got to explain how we related to events of the last month and the final sequence that led to the demise of our partnership. This was important because, right up until the end, I was viewing our challenging times as difficult, yet constructive—while Ma'ikwe was convincing herself that it was time to pull the plug. While painful, it was instructive to plumb the information buried in the gap between our perceptions.

I was grateful that Ma'ikwe was willing to frame the larger picture of her frustration and analysis with me, and to take the time to point out how my behaviors didn't work for her. After four days of this back-and-forth I was able to write:

As I sit with what you’ve experienced as my criticality, my narcissism, my resistance to your ideas, my inability to provide empathy when you're struggling, my failure to follow through on commitments, my inability to honor requests that matter a lot to you, and my competitive one-upmanship it’s a fairly grim picture, and makes me wonder at the folly (even irresponsibility) of presuming that I’m capable of being anyone’s partner. Looked at from this perspective, I’m humbled that you hung in there with me as long as you did. Thank you. Your loving me has been a precious gift.

Ma'ikwe had a complex response to this. On the one hand, it showed I was hearing what she was complaining about, and she wholeheartedly endorsed the idea of my continuing to do personal work in an attempt to address these behaviors.

On the other hand, she encouraged me to soften what I did with her rejection because she was only saying that I was a poor partner for her. Well, this is tricky ground to navigate with sure footing. While Ma'ikwe and I agree that we both could have been better partners, I think it's dangerous for me to slough off responsibility for what went awry (laying it at her feet instead). Better, I think, is to try to own all that I can and see what I can do with it. (Ma'ikwe will have her own version of this, but that's her business.) So I'm facing a large hill to climb.

While there are ways in which it's only possible to work on intimacy dynamics in an intimate relationship (and I'm not seeing a clear pathway to that given all the barnacles on my hull), I am hopeful that most of Ma'ikwe's issues are tractable in the context of friendships and relationships with clients—both of which I have in abundance. So I'm holding onto the idea that I can continue my work without necessarily putting another partner at risk.

I intuit that my main challenge will be remaining open for engagement, and not playing it safe. It's the work I need to address after doing the math. We'll see how it goes.

West Seattle Friday: Half-dozen highlights, including a barn dance! - West Seattle Blog (blog)

Cohousing News from Google -

West Seattle Blog (blog)

West Seattle Friday: Half-dozen highlights, including a barn dance!
West Seattle Blog (blog)
HEALTH CARNIVAL: West Seattle Elementary families are invited to a health carnival at the school tonight, 5-8 pm – details here. (6760 34th SW). BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS: The West Seattle High School girls play Cleveland for the Metro League title tonight ...

Cohousing concept moving forward in Qualicum Beach - Parksville Qualicum Beach News

Cohousing News from Google -

Cohousing concept moving forward in Qualicum Beach
Parksville Qualicum Beach News
This weekend, the Valterra Village Cohousing Planning Group is sponsoring an information night and Getting It Built workshop weekend with B.C. expert Ronaye Matthew and Margaret Critchlow, founding director of the Canadian Senior Cohousing Society.
Valterra group hosting cohousing weekendOceanside Star

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Traveling from Wet to Least

Laird's Blog -

The past two days I made the journey from LA to L.A. It took me two days just to expunge two periods. The vehicle for this odd odyssey was Amtrak train #1, the Sunset Limited, which I enjoyed end for end—all 1995 miles from New Orleans to Los Angeles (half of it traversing Texas). Although the route nominally runs from East to West, it can also be viewed as running from Wet to Least—if you think in terms of rainfall instead of longitude.

I offer you a play in five acts.

Act I: Louisiana
Monday morning we pulled out of the rain-washed streets of Carnival-besotted New Orleans (think king cake, pop beads, and street-grade sippy cups filled with watered-down daiquiris), and began to chug across southern Louisiana, where spring is already quickening as evidenced by the chartreuse yellow leaves of willows, and the gaudy red blossoms on a swamp-loving something-or-other tree that doesn’t grow in the Midwest. My eye was also caught by the vibrant lemon yellow of wild mustard in full bloom.

Traveling orthogonally to the drainage, our advance was periodically punctuated by estuaries and boat channels featuring huge derricks capable of managing the cargo of salt-water container ships. Often there would be an egret standing sentinel atop a piling as we lumbered by.

We rumbled through small towns sporting steeply pitched spires that marked the location of a brick-built Catholic church beneath. Rural housing was most often characterized by rusting metals roofs covering single story bungalows with pastel clapboard siding build on concrete blocks. The dominant greenery of February was alternately supplied by the waxy, dusty leaves of live oaks and long-needled pines.

While there was no sign of farming activity, the unplanted fields revealed the vein-work of deep ditches used to manage heavy rainfalls.

Before boarding I had fortified myself for the 46-hour sojourn with a muffaletta to go and a two-part dinner where I downed three dozen fat oysters in the prime of the season. I was so full of bivalves that I passed (reluctantly) on both shrimp étouffée and red beans and rice seasoned with tasso. You just can't do everything.

Act II: Texas
Our first stop in the Lone Star State was Beaumont, hard on Port Arthur (the birthplace of Janis Joplin), where the grass was greening up nicely and it was a beautiful day for after school soccer.

The pastoral scene featured black Angus cattle, sod farms, and the sinuous beauty of laser-planed rice fields. Along the tracks there were still swampy sloughs.

We eased into Houston at sundown (the first sunset on this limited-to-two journey). So endeth the wet day.

Somewhere in the dark, about halfway to San Antonio we fell for the old broken-down-freight-train-in-front-of-you trick, necessitating backing up and wyeing the train to find some alternate tracks (that didn't contain a broken down freight train). Perhaps that's why they call this route the Sunset Limited.

By first light we were chugging toward the flag stop of Sanderson, and already we were in country too dry to farm. It was all scrub vegetation and rock—not a tree in sight. In the night, somebody pulled the plug and all the moisture that we had traveled through the first day had been drained away.

The ground was not necessarily desert flat. Where it wasn't, there are numerous washes, or arroyos, that indicated where water flows on those rare occasions when it rains. The colors were muted: the gray/green of sagebrush, the white/tan of fractured sandstone, the yellow/green of prickly pear.

Just east of El Paso, we rolled by miles of nut tree orchards with geometrically precise plantings and completely barren soil (during the growing season water is supplied via concrete-lined irrigation ditches). Weird. It's scary to think what chemicals are used to eliminate any trace of green—even in February.

Act III: New Mexico
The Land of Enchantment is sparsely populated, and most of that is in the north (Albuquerque and Santa Fe). The train had flag stops in the sleepy little towns of Deming and Lordsburg, bypassing Las Cruces, Roswell, and Alamogordo.

There was still not enough water to spit.

Act IV: Arizona
Clacking along into the afternoon, it was on to Benson and copper country. Almost as soon as we crossed the state border mountains started replacing hills, as we threaded our way through the southern remnants of the Rockies.

Our second (and final) sunset occurred in the desert. The sun was spectacularly framed now and then in the notches between peaks. Auspiciously, the first clouds of the day (I'll bet there was moisture there) appeared in the western sky, offering us a rosy band above and alpenglow on the hills behind us. The mountain ranges on the western horizon turned to blue before we lost the browns and greens of the near foreground. Lovely.

We followed the last light into Tucson, where we gassed up, changed crews, and paused 90 minutes in front of the Maynard Market, a local watering hole.

So endeth the dry day.

Act V: California
This all unfolded in the dark. We glided by Palm Springs, Ontario, and Pomona, passing wraith-like among the palm trees and neon, stealing into Union Station before dawn. As we crawled through the city on our final approach, we crossed the completely canalized Los Angeles River. It's trickle at the bottom of a huge concrete causeway was the first running water I'd seen since Houston.

I'd worked up a powerful thirst traveling through so much dry country. The first thing I did when I got off the train was buy a cup of coffee.

Cohousing a Roma: anziani e giovani migranti si incontrano nel progetto 'Homefull' - UrbanPost

Cohousing News from Google -


Cohousing a Roma: anziani e giovani migranti si incontrano nel progetto 'Homefull'
A Roma anziani e giovani migranti si incontreranno nell'innovativo progetto di cohousing chiamato 'Homefull'. La curiosa sperimentazione, finanziata dalla Regione Lazio e messa in piedi dal Programma integra in partnership con la Cooperativa Sociale ...

More on the cover story: Louisville arts village on the horizon - Denver Business Journal

Cohousing News from Google -

More on the cover story: Louisville arts village on the horizon
Denver Business Journal
More than 40 people say they want to live in the artist co-housing community, said Emilie Parker, the organizer of Louisville Artists Cohousing. "We've got painters, ceramic artists, dancers, filmmakers, writers — several different kinds of writers ...

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Cohousing: The real sharing economy at its best, and a great example in Berlin - Treehugger

Cohousing News from Google -

Cohousing: The real sharing economy at its best, and a great example in Berlin
Some have called AirBnB sharing, but it's really renting. The real sharing economy comes to housing in the cohousing model, described by TreeHugger Meaghan as "a type of collaborative in which people eschew the alienation of typical subdivisions in ...

Divorce 2.0

Laird's Blog -

Ma’ikwe told me Friday evening that she wants a divorce. This is the second time I've had experience in the last 19 months and I didn't enjoy hearing it any more the second time. It's like getting kicked in the stomach.

One of my first thoughts was how clearly this development points out that I am only in control of my part of the partnership, and the commitments I make do not bind her. While I readily agree that we've had to handle some tough challenges on the way to death do us part, I've never found divorce an attractive choice. Yet Ma'ikwe can opt out—and has done so twice—regardless of where my heat is on the matter.

Here are some high and low watermarks of our relationship:
Oct 29, 2005             We became lovers
Nov 18, 2005            We decided to get married
April 21, 2007           We got married in a blow-out four-day wedding in Albuquerque
July 11, 2008             Ma'ikwe moved to Dancing Rabbit 
spring 2009               Ma'ikwe broke ground to start building Moon Lodge
2010                          Ma'ikwe discovered she has Lyme disease and had a debilitating year (a lot of pain and a lot of bed rest)
2012                          Ma'ikwe relapsed with Lyme and had another debilitating year
Feb 11, 2013             We had our first appointment with Kathy, our couples therapist, which continued for the next two years
July 14, 2013            Ma'ikwe announced that she wanted a divorce
Aug 26, 2013            Ma'kiwe agreed to try the marraige again
Nov 29, 2013            I moved out of Sandhill and started living in Moon Lodge with Ma'ikwe
July 14, 2014            We held a recommitment ceremony for our marriage
Oct 3, 2014               I strained my lower back lifting heavy boxes improperly
Oct, 2014-Jan 2015   I had restricted mobility (with a lot of bed rest) as I recovered from back pain
Feb 6, 2015               Ma'ikwe announced that she wanted a divorce

Our marriage has enjoyed many sublime and beautiful moments, and it's also been a gut-wrenching emotional roller coaster.

In this latest round of turmoil, Ma'ikwe first told me that she was again frustrated to the point of thinking about ending the relationship three weeks ago. Having reserved time with our therapist for Feb 3 (the day before I left on a four-week trip) I had understood we were waiting to work on her concerns with Kathy's help—which has frequently been a good idea. After one 90-minute appointment last Tuesday, Kathy was able to make another session available to us the same day. In trying to decide how best to use that opportunity I said my highest priority was using the time to give the best chance for us working through the issues that had brought Ma'ikwe to the brink again. 

With that request on the table, Ma'ikwe decided to meet with Kathy alone. While I don't know what they discussed in the second session, three days later Ma'ikwe announced that she was done. In retrospect, I reckon by the time we got to Kathy I was essentially a dead man walking and just didn't know it yet. 

I outlined in my previous blog some of the concerns that have been troubling Ma'ikwe lately and it all unraveled incredibly fast. The thing that hurts the most is that there was never much of an opportunity for me to address Ma'ikwe's concerns between her articulation of the issues and her unilateral decision to end it all.

I reckon staying with me represented too much slog for too little hope; she weary of trying to make it work and just needed to move on. 

One interesting pattern I noticed is that both times Ma'ikwe got to clarity about wanting a divorce, the sequence started right after one of us came out of a long stretch of compromised health, where the person in recovery wasn't capable of doing serious relationship work. Both times I was caught off-guard by the build-up of negativity and critical analysis. I don't know if that's merely a coincidence or a smoking gun.

When weathering the localized storm of emotional turmoil that was triggered for me by Ma'ikwe's first decision to end the relationship in July 2013, I got enormous help from EMDR therapy with Kathy, which has permanently helped me be less reactive. This benefit, fortunately, is still available to me today (thank god) and helped both to stay afloat with my feelings and to not spiral down into a very dark, and blaming place. I know Ma'ikwe has been doing the best she can and I know that I will not die.

Oddly, it has also helped that I'm currently reading Wyvern (a semi-obscure 1988 novel by A A Attanasio). It contains a fantastical exploration of being alone while at the same time being in relation to spirit, in relation to other humans, and to the universe. The protagonist is an illegitimate blond blue-eyed boy of mixed Dutch/aboriginal stock who is raised as a sorcerer (or soul catcher) in the jungles of Borneo, and the book is full of cosmological and existential questions as explored through the eyes of “primitive” culture. This story is powerful medicine for me right now.

The bottom line is that Ma’ikwe no longer saw her future as fruitful with me and acted decisively to move on. Loving her, I support her getting what she wants—even if at the extreme of leaving me.

Having gone through this particular hell once already, it’s not so devastating the second time. I know I'll survive. Though I've been rejected, I'm not beating myself up.

Yet whither now? Fifteen months ago I've walked away from my community as part of my recommitment to the marriage. Can I go back? Is that what I want? Is that good for Sandhill? I don't know. I was mainly at DR to be with Ma'ikwe; now what?

Ma'ikwe and I have to navigate our professional relationships moving forward and to what extent, if any, it makes sense to try to work together. It's confusing for me to know how much I can trust her commitments at this point.

I went all-in on my relationship with Ma'ikwe, and still got rejected. While not an ending I was looking for, I knew at the time that it wasn't a guarantee and I don't regret the attempt. I am not bitter.

In addition to losing my wife, I'm losing my best friend—the person I'd been sharing my daily observations with. This is highly disrupting and I have no idea how I'm going to replace the comfort and groundedness that I derive from that level of subtle sharing.

Right now there's a large hole in my heart and it will take some time to figure out what it all means and how to adapt to my suddenly wifeless life.

Happy Birthday Ma'ikwe, Annie, and Ronald

Laird's Blog -

Today I'm composing a paean to three people who have been influential in my life—all of whom claim today—Feb 6—as their birthday. In descending order of age:

Ronald Reagan (born 1911)
While it's unquestionably impressive that he overcame associations with Bedtime for Bonzo (that 1951 standard for cinematographic anthropoid high jinx), and shilling for Twenty Mule Team Borax as the host (1964-65) of television's syndicated Death Valley Days to become the 40th President of the US (1981-89), I associate him mainly with the dubious distinction of championing the ill-fated Stars Wars defense system (otherwise known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was based on technology that didn't exist) and gutting the federal government's social support system—which was a kind of Star Wars-inspired magic act of its own ("These sick people are not really sick, and no longer need our help... ")

With the Gipper, I'm reminded of the Tom Lehrer lyric about movie star George Murphy, after he ascended to the US Senate from California in 1965 (predating Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger's electoral success in La La Land):

At last we have a senator who can really sing and dance.

I suppose, indirectly, that I owe Reagan for helping create the environment in which groups need to turn to professional outside help when overwhelmed by challenging internal dynamics. The fact that people are drawn to community for the right reasons does not necessarily mean they have the capacity to be productive members. Helping groups successfully navigate this kind of delicate territory has become bread and butter work for me as a process consultant. So thanks, Ron.

I reckon there's no amount of mean-spirited slashing of the federal safety net for disadvantaged segments of the population that can't be turned into an entrepreneurial opportunity of some sort. While I'd prefer that groups didn't need so much help, here we are.

Ann Shrader (born 1950)
My lifelong friend, Annie, is eligible for Medicare today.

She and I go back a long way—to before Broadway Joe Namath delivered on his brash promise to lead the New York Jets to victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas in Super Bowl III. We overlapped for three undergraduate years at Carleton College and then went on to start Sandhill Farm together in 1974. Along the way we had Ceilee: on a clear and cold morning in January 1981, she pushed out our vernix-smeared son and I caught him in the middle of our bedroom floor. It was a very powerful moment that bonded us forever.

Even after Annie left for Virginia in 1999, we have remained close friends. Partly, of course, because of the continuing Ceilee connection, but more than that we've traveled a lot of life together as fellow communitarians, homesteaders, and political progressives. I usually manage to get out to see her in Floyd VA for a visit a couple times of year, where we catch up on each others' lives, do some crosswords, cook together, do a home improvement project or two, and laugh a lot—while her yellow furball of a cat, Otis, deigns to tolerate me as an overnight guest on the floor of the solarium.

Annie is the active friend in my life that goes back further than all others, and is precious to me for that.

Ma'ikwe Ludwig (born 1970)
When I first met Annie, Ma'iwe had not yet been born. To put this further into perspective, Ronald Reagan died before Ma'ikwe and I become intimate partners. So there's some serious spaciousness between the eras in which today's celebrants have been operating.

While Ma'ikwe and I toasted her 45th birthday a couple days early (with an overnight stay involving a hot tub Tuesday night), today she's set aside a contemplative day of seclusion at a neighbor's intern hut (because I'm on the road and she's at home).

Ma'ikwe has been special to me for many reasons. That the least of which is that nobody challenges me like my wife when it comes to doing personal growth work. While that's certainly been awkward at times—and it's an adventure in the jungle of my subconscious figuring out how well I can meet her concerns—I'm dedicated to trying to be the best partner I can and appreciate the caring for me that her surfacing concerns represents.

In that spirit, she gave me some homework Tuesday, right before I hit the road:

A.  Mumbling on the Rise
Since childhood I've had the habit of talking to myself (sotto voce). I'm most aware of doing it when I'm trying to work through unresolved tension with others, yet I also do it when proofreading articles (or blog posts), when running through my To Do List (reminding myself of what's on tap for the day), and replaying impactful exchanges with others.

Ma'ikwe has observed that I'm doing this more these days and is concerned in two ways. First, does it indicated that I'm checking out more from the world around me, perhaps presaging cognitive deterioration? While I don't have the sense that that's happening, neither am I confident that I'd be able to detect it, so I've agreed to get some neurological testing done when I'm home next.

Second, although we have an agreement that I'll bring to her things that need processing between us (when I'm upset and working on it alone does not untie the knot), she's always found it hard to believe that more of my mumbling isn't about her, and now that the frequency is increasing it's even harder.

This is tricky to unpack cleanly, both because my orientation is to first try to resolve tensions internally (rather than starting by expressing my upset to Ma'ikwe and making a request) and because part of my process for determining what I want to do with my feelings is to explore them internally first (during which I don't need to be so careful what I say). I think I'm being respectful and Ma'ikwe feels left out. But then, am I being respectful? To what extent am I fully aware of the feelings I'm mumbling about? How sure can I be that I'm keeping my end of the bargain to bring forward my issues?

B.  Unsure that I Have Her Back
When Ma'ikwe is struggling with something that I'm not involved with (for example, when she runs into bumps in the road as Dancing Rabbit, Inc.'s nonprofit executive director) there's delicacy about how I offer support. While I have clarity about emotional support being a higher priority than advice about nonprofit administration (which she may not be interested in anyway), I have a tendency to move too quickly into what I imagine to be the emotional reality of the other players, and how there might be an innocent explanation for how the matter looks to them.

Commonly enough, Ma'ikwe simply wants me to be present for her emotional experience, and not so damned concerned with what others might be going through. Sympathy should start at home.

C.  How the Spirit Moves Us
For the entire time I've known her (especially the last decade), Ma'ikwe identifies as having a strong spiritual side, especially in relationship to the Earth. While this is something that has slowly been growing in me as well (though I'm not necessarily touched by the same literature or the same rituals in the same way) I've come to understand that it's disappointing for her that we have not bonded more strongly over spiritual inquiry and expression.

D.  Avoiding a Hearing Aid
Starting somewhere about 20 years ago, I've been gradually losing hearing (especially in the high frequencies) in my left ear. I've had this diagnosed by audiologists as irreversible nerve damage, and mostly I've learned to cope by being careful about room acoustics.

It has, however, been a steady source of irritation for Ma'ikwe that I regularly mishear what she says and I have to ask her to repeat statements. Certain environments with high ambient noise, such as parties and most restaurants, are brutal for me and I just steer clear of them when I can.

What I haven't been doing is taking into account how hard (and disrespectful) this has been of Ma'ikwe, who has to constantly deal with my disability when it would be a relatively straight forward thing to minimize it with a hearing aid.

I made a promise to get a hearing aid in the context of moving in with her 15 months ago, but I haven't yet done it. Part of this is money (the little boogers are expensive and need to be replaced every three-five years), and part of this is vanity. For a while we thought the cost of a hearing aid would be covered by Obama Care, but it turned out we were wrong, and we need to get serious about budgeting for this.

You might say, I'm finely hearing how much this means to her.

Cohousing e bioedilizia, se ne parla sabato a Poggibonsi. Appuntamento all ... - Valdelsa.net

Cohousing News from Google -

Il Cittadino on line

Cohousing e bioedilizia, se ne parla sabato a Poggibonsi. Appuntamento all ...
Cohousing e bioedilizia, se ne parla sabato a Poggibonsi. Appuntamento all'Accabì Hospital 06-02-2015 DISAGI BIOEDILIZIA VALDELSA POGGIBONSI | CobioCasa, gruppo appena nato di futuri cohouser, organizza per sabato 7 febbraio alle ore 16.30 un ...
Cohousing e bioedilizia: se ne parla a PoggibonsiIl Cittadino on line
A Poggibonsi importante appuntamento sul cohousing e la bioediliziaSienaFree.it

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