Sunday, September 6, 2009

You've become an Exploring Member, now what? — Elizabeth Garber

Since we have several new Exploring Members, I'm including a letter I wrote to Arielle earlier this summer after she and her family joined and had come to a first General meeting. She had written in to the egroup to say "We are so incredibly buzzed and excited, but now what? When are meetings and what can I do?..."

We have worked to minimize numbers of big meetings so more work can happen on projects and in smaller committees. The General Meeting is held on the second Sunday of the month on the same day as our Open House's so we can make a day of it and so long distance members can enjoy both . We have many other ways that members of the Cohousing community can get together for fun and projects. Some are planned events where we sign-up to volunteer at events to share about Cohousing (like the Common Ground Fair coming in September) and some are spur of the moment.

When we have interested families in joining the community we've put out the word for potluck suppers at the Farmhouse, or small group lunches at Chases and then walking the land. This summer we have had some wonderful camp outs on the land. Many things like this depend on someone saying, How about we do this?! and organizing it, checking with others on dates, and seeing who comes. A fun event coming this fall with be the Women and Girls Clothes Swap party and a pot luck with our new Austrian family comes to visit in November and I'm sure many more events will be created!

A good way to help keep this project moving is joining a committee. See what's a good match for you. If you'd like to join Membership and Marketing to help with getting the word out, you can contact Wendy and/or Denise. If you're interested in Process committee contact Jim. If you'd like to write something for the E-news, a new member profile or responses to joining, you can send that to Steve. If you want to join the Finance Committee contact Sanna or Margi. If you want to help plan and organize Open Houses, definately let me know!

If you want to learn alot more about what's happening nationally with cohousing go to the National Website. Several members went to the National Convention this summer and I think we are going to be getting DVD's of keynote speeches. Ask Wendy about this.

When I first got involved I looked for a project that I could take on and really make my own. I looked at something that could help take some of the weight off Sanna and Wendy and the Steering committee. Organizing Open houses and writing the press releases and posters seemed just right for me.

As you find out what is happening in the community see what area speaks to you where you'd like to participate and that is a good match for your skills. Steve saw the Website as a good place to bring his energy. Since he started he's add the Enewsletter, gotten us on Twitter, added videos and loads of gorgeous photos! In August, Coleen and I were simultaneously taken over with Farmhouse nesting instincts. She cleaned and organized and I found and hung art work. We met with Sanna beforehand, confered, checked over everything and then cruised.

We seem to be a community where people listen to what is next, check in with the right folks, and keep things moving. Our primary marketing focus is to create more ways to connect with families to give them a connection to our community is . Any thoughts, confer with Wendy and Denise!

The best way to strengthen our community and help us grow is to have fun together! A group of Cohousing families went sailing over Labor Day weekend, and two members worked on Sanna and Alan's boat so that it was ready so they could go sailing. Other members have gone kayaking together, gardened together, and moved heavy furnature into the Common house with speed, fun and efficiency! We'd played with Jeffrey's amazing bubble making collection of gizmos at the Belfast Street Fair and we have danced in the street together in the summer on Thursday nights as well as grilled hot dogs and cut watermelon to give away at the Cohousing booth.

If you want to see what our future cohousing homes look like you can peek at the spec house (our 1500 sq. foot house), designed and built by Geo-Logic, drive down Crocker Road (off Route 3) and see a new house just going up to the right down in a field. You can read on Geo Logic website information on their designs.

When I first got involved as an Exploring Member I felt that not only the community and vision had opened to me, but also the land. I got tall Muck boots (for tromping through tall wet grass last year) and started exploring the land every chance I could. I followed the Little River, explored the woods, found the two ponds, the gravel pit, the valley of enourmous apple trees (perfect for apple picking for cider pressing in October). I fell in love with the land, the flocks of geese flying overhead, and meditated next to the stream. In the winter groups of us cross country skied up the stream and snowshoed across meadows, and there was a sledding and skating party. A group of us met at dusk in the spring with Mike Shannon who taught us how to listen to the sound of the woodcocks' mating dance.

What's been great for me to realize, is that our cohousing community is not something I'm waiting for, it's something we are creating right now.

Since I wrote to Arielle to answer some of these questions, I lent them cohousing books to read, had a fabulous waffle breakfast with Arielle, Rob, Willa and baby Jem, and mentioned Wendy's dream that we have a blog some day. Arielle jumped right in and made it happen! Thanks Arielle and to all our new Exploring Members! Who knows what gifts you'll bring to the community!

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