Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deciding to Join — Mary-Anne Clancy

In mid-July, almost a month to the day of our first Open House, I asked David how he’d rate our chances of joining Belfast Cohousing as equity members. We were driving home from our first potluck and general meeting and he took his eyes off the road and turned to me.

“70 percent”, he said.

It would be another month before we signed the paperwork and handed over our check, but that exchange on Route 9 was the first time either of us put a number on something we’d known almost from the first.

"That was fun, ” I said after the June Open House. “I really liked the people we talked to.”

“They seemed genuine, ” agreed David. “Everyone was very gracious. ”

We’d been drawn to Belfast Cohousing by the concept of a group of people dedicated to sustainable living and community farming. Who made up that community was the question. The answer began when we walked through the farmhouse door.

Jeffrey welcomed us, spending much of the next hour explaining the project and answering our many questions with humor and no reservations. Lindsey, Allison, and Sawyer took us on a tour of the land, soldiering on despite the slugs that squished between Lindsey’s feet and her flip-flops.

When it came time to visit the prototype, Abby jumped into our car, ignored the dog hair, and answered even more questions. After the presentation at the prototype, Coleen took the time to show us the architect’s drawings and explain the various housing units, even as it became evident that tour time was up. Outside, Chuck talked to us about how impressed he’d been by the process that cohousing used to make decisions. Abby and Geoff lingered in the parking lot and continued to talk to us, despite having two small children who were more than ready to go home.

The July potluck, general meeting and open house further convinced us as we met and talked to Judith, Wendy, Hans, Marion, Jim, Steve and Barbara, Elizabeth, Paul, Craig, Jon and Joline, Mike and Margie, Bill and Sarah. We began the two and a half hour ride home, exchanging stories on who we’d talked to and what they’d said.

I was struck by how a close-knit group who obviously enjoyed being with each other had taken the time to make us feel so welcome. David was surprised by how open the men he’d met had been about their concerns and the risk they were taking. Those concerns had been paramount in our discussions, but once we knew that others shared them, they began moving into the background.

The following week, we had lunch in Lubec with Geoff, Abby, Noah, Clare, Mike and Margie. We came away with the overwhelming feeling we were going to join. Reading the operating agreement and attending the clarity session were almost superfluous.

It was then that I remembered a phrase from The Waking by Theodore Roethke: “We think by feeling. What is there to know? It is the best explanation I know of how we made our decision as quickly and surely as we did. Now, when people ask me how we came to join Belfast Cohousing, I say: “Do you know Roethke?"

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Theodore Roethke

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