Annie Lehman, PDX Commons (Portland OR)
Editor's Note: Annie Lehman has joined the Coho/US Board of Directors. Welcome to Annie!
Having never lived in an intentional community (college doesn't count), I don't know what it will feel like when I move next April to PDX Commons, a senior (I prefer to say boomer) cohousing project currently forming in SE Portland. I do know I will be surrounded by people who want to live in community and who think intelligently about the world around them. I've spent the last two years getting to know these folks (and others have worked for years before I entered the picture) to build this community and the building.
What do I love about this?
I love the intentionality and thoughtfulness that goes into most decisions. Yes, it sometimes drives me crazy but also shows the degree of contemplation and consideration folks bring to the process. I love surrounding myself with people who care, often deeply, about world affairs and toilet paper holders. Who are willing to attend endless meetings not because the love meetings but they believe the power of the group decision making is greater than the individual if we are to share a harmonious life and home. Who value respect, inclusion, tolerance and peace.
I grew up in the sixties and have always hated rules and bureaucracy, but here I am creating one. Do I have fears about this? Unequivocally, but I also know this group will tolerate differences and slippage from nonconformity. We are even working on a policy to review and change previous ones, and we are not even living together yet.
Our recent election convinced me - if nothing else - how critical it is to surround yourself with compassionate people in times of stress. People who may not think like I do but are willing to listen and bring an open mind to differences. Folks who want to be supportive of one another, who are go-getters, capable, and compassionate.
As someone who ran a neighborhood association for years and had difficulty finding even a cochair to share with me, I value and look forward to this next phase of my life to sharing intimacies and my day-to-day life with this group of does, joiners, achievers, ponders and meditators.
At a recent gathering, we went around the room and said something we were all looking forward to when we move into our new homes. The thing that came up the most was the ability to connect easily with others. Being able to walk outside your door and find someone to have a conversation with, go on a casual walk, plan an outing, or share a meal. All without having to pick up your phone, send a text or arrange through email. Doesn't get much better than that!
As for Coho/US Board participation, I'm hoping my years of being a nonprofit consultant [http: www.zimmerman-lehman.com) and policy wonk will help me grow the organization, increase awareness of this wonderful resource for community living, and share with others this way of life.