PDX Commons creatively celebrates new members and a full house
In the past year, PDX Commons went through a major turnover of homes — five homes sold to seven new members (including two couples). In some cases, the pandemic was a factor, but there were other reasons as well. This was our first experience with selling homes and selling during the pandemic — and in most cases, without using a realtor. We found it challenging, yet we successfully completed each sale and purchase by new owners.
We paired each buyer with a buddy who could help them through the process. We also developed a robust orientation program for new members. We held frequent happy hours in our courtyard during good weather, and new Commoners joined in to start getting to know people.
After all the homes sold and new members moved in, we hatched a plan for a big event to welcome them and celebrate our renewed community. Robin, our creative party planner, took the lead with help from Annie and Jo. The celebration was named “Friendsgiving.”
The first idea was to give a special gift to each community member. What could be cooler than a big mug with a head shot of each person on it, arranged in order of unit numbers? One of our in-house photographers, Tode, took all the photos in the courtyard one sunny afternoon. Two of our new members, Kay and Wahhab, know PhotoShop and designed the mugs. They were ordered and kept a secret until party night.
Next, the planners came up with the idea of once again displaying our paper timeline of the community’s formation. They enlisted key members to tell their part of the story at the event. Then the clever and sneaky planners broke all members up into six small groups, with at least one new member in each group. Couples were separated as well.
Each group was tasked with creating a unique meal plan and deciding where and how to hold their dinner. Groups received $10 per head toward the cost of dinner and the promise of a flourless chocolate cake.
Time to celebrate!
On party night, we all assembled downstairs to receive our gifts and hear the retelling of our history, which seems to be further embellished each time. Some of the new people shared how they came to join PDX Commons.
Next, the small groups got together to have their dinners. One group used a camping theme, eating outdoors with marshmallows and all; another group met at the food carts across the street; some simply cooked a delicious potluck meal, and some even made it a progressive dinner. Karen E. made the chocolate cakes for all the groups.
Everyone thought the small group dinners were a brilliant idea — they allowed for honest conversations that included the new people. Some groups had themes for their conversation and others posed a question like “What was a turning point in your life?” Still others played games like two truths and a lie.
We ended the party by coming together in the courtyard, each of us with a small glass jar holding a candle. Music came on, we mingled and toasted with our candles glasses, and a few people proceeded to dance the night away. It was a rare event to have the entire community together at one time. We all agreed it was a fantastic way to welcome newcomers to our community.
Cynthia, one of our new members, perhaps said it best:
What an amazing day and evening! The fabulous timeline honoring the elders … dinner in small groups with our new love-filled face mugs, and the pleasure of getting to know each other. A little wine didn’t hurt, either. The candlelight ceremony bringing us closer … beautiful, smiling faces, happiness to be together in this way, loving each other as one. Dancing, laughing, joyful freedom … thank you, thank you, thank you for creating this most memorable, barrier-breaking, heart-opening event.
Category: Rituals and Celebrations
Tags: Connecting, living in cohousing, new members, selling