Sunday, November 28, 2010

What motivates a family to join? — Abby Gilchrist

We joined Belfast Cohousing for many reasons. We have lived on a farm half an hour from Belfast for the last seven years. Over that time, we have worked on it — completely renovating, and making the old farmhouse really efficient, fixing up the barn and other outbuildings, starting gardens — basically we have made it into the farm that we always dreamed of having. But, since having our two children, we realize how often we are in Belfast and how much time our children spend in the car. We have also found that we are isolated on our farm, having to schedule times to see any of our friends who live just a few miles down the road. With just the two of us and our two young children, it has also been difficult to find the time to do any serious farming, and we have had to cut our flock of sheep way down to a much more manageable six.

The more we thought about it, Belfast Cohousing seemed like a great choice for us. Only two miles out of town (a five minute drive), it offers us a wonderful mix of community, farming, gardening, woods, nature, the ocean, and convenience! Now we can enjoy having agricultural animals and the related chores, but not be tied down by them. Sharing the work with others allows us the chance to have more freedom in our schedules.

The children will be able to run out the door to play with their friends within sight of many community members. We feel it’s important for our children to be around many other children and adults, and this interaction will be very easy in our community — the homes will be in close proximity, and all connected by walking paths throughout the community. The common house will be a wonderful gathering space with a few shared meals a week (and we will only have to cook or clean-up once in a while!). We also picture many craft projects spread out on the tables in the afternoons, spontaneous plays put on by the kids, and sitting in the living room talking with friends while children run back and forth between us and the children's playroom.

Of course, the community aspect is the main reason we have joined the project. While we can see the many benefits that there will be when we move in, our family has already experienced many of them. Support and friendships, as well as help with projects like pickling beets. And perhaps there will be a big work party at our farm this weekend to help with our move! Coleen and Elizabeth have already given us a chance to leave our children with someone they know while we have had a few dinners in town.

Another reason we decided to join the community is to minimize our eco-footprint and impact on the environment by driving less, sharing resources, and living in a home that reduces heating costs by 90%. And did we mention what a wonderful, cool town Belfast is? It has a wonderful co-op, a very active downtown library, art galleries, a variety of music gatherings, and community theater. So, we are moving. It is sad to say good-bye to the life that we had dreamed of for so long, but exciting to be moving forward toward this new dream of ours.

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