Finding Home

Submitted by Paul Born on March 11, 2011 - 2:06pm
WindSong Cohousing in Langley, BC

I had written a blog several months ago about cohousing and in it said I would continue to explore this idea. In my search I learned about WindSong Cohousing and, given that I was speaking at a conference on Early childhood Development in Langley B.C., I decided to visit.

Windsong

WindSong - feels like a Newfoundland Village

Allan and Howard
Allan and Howard
Allan and Lorna
Allan and Lorna in the common area
Gardens
Gardens are a priority here
Common Social events Calendar
Common Social events Calendar

You know those quaint Newfoundland villages where there are a patchwork of beautiful, bright-coloured houses perched high on a cliff overlooking the sea, laundry blowing in the wind? You know that feeling you get when you see pictures of these houses and think ‘my, would I like to live there’? That was my experience at WindSong – and that was before I’d spoken with any of the people there or learned how this cohousing project actually lives its values.

Not only are the housing units painted like a Newfoundland village the “hallways” are glassed in atriums, or should I say greenhouses as that is what they resemble. In fact, the whole place is beautifully designed with an amazing amount of common space.

Howard Stap was the first to greet me. We had set up a time to meet and even though I was nearly half an hour late (lost in Langley one way streets), he was warm and welcoming. Howard was with WindSong at the very beginning. He’d been inspired by his experience of living on a kibbutz and in a Hutterite community, and wanted to establish a place that lived out these communal values, so his wife introduced him to the concept of cohousing.

In the afternoon, Allan Skuce and later his wife Lorna joined in the conversation and continued to entertain and inform me about WindSong. Allan and Lorna are recent members, having just moved in a couple of years ago.

Here are some highlights of this amazing place:

  • To grow a sense of common there are many clubs at WindSong. Everything from Gardening, Library, Fitness to meal clubs. People participate as they desire.
  • Everyone commits to doing about three hours of community work a month in order to keep the common areas functional and clean (kitchen, Atrium, clubs room,) and to ensure the recycling program and the like are attended to.
  • To join the community, you place a bid on a unit that comes up for sale. Before your bid is accepted you need to attend a community meal and a social event, take a full tour of the place, and participate in an expectations meeting with a half dozen of the members. At the expectations meeting you are asked to say why it is you want to join WindSong.
  • WindSong was the first cohousing community in B.C. To get a better sense of the place and it’s history go to their website.

WindSong’s Vision and Mission statements will tell you a lot about them:

“Our vision is to create and sustain a multigenerational community where neighbours know, trust and care for each other. We do this by respecting the uniqueness of each individual, and by taking responsibility for our selves, our community and our environment. We celebrate our connections with each other and the richness of our diversity.”

“Our mission is to create, build, and sustain a close, supportive community. This community promotes a sense of belonging in its individual and family members, by providing common facilities and by encouraging open communication and full participation. It also provides an atmosphere of safety and respect for the diversity, privacy and uniqueness of members.”

I did not have a long tour of WindSong but spent enough time there to know I want more - more knowledge about cohousing, more visits to cohousing communities, and more discussion about this way of living. I think I could find a real sense of home in this kind of setting. On the one hand it’s just plain functional, a way of choosing your neighbors, but it’s certainly more than that. These are neighbors who have committed to intentionally build a sense of community together. They have committed to get to know each other and live together, to look after each other, to eat and play and work together and to form an identity together in this place where they live. I like that.

Comments:
Thanks

Thanks Paul,

It was a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to more collasboration. I'm glad that you put the vision/mission in here, because this gives a voice for the community as a whole; we agreed to this by consensus. I think consensus decision making is another hallmark of cohousing. This removes all sorts of polical manouvering and forming power groups. It often takes longer to make a decision (more discussion), but the decisions are much stronger and easier to implement once made.

In community,

Howard Staples - Windsong Cohousing