"The Unforeseen is what you have to look out for," a wise person once told me. She went on to say that this applies to any change, be it a new job, a new relationship or a move to a new home.
I imagined that "unforeseen" meant those nasty little and sometimes-large negative things that pop up unexpectedly. So when we moved in April from California to our new home in the Iowa City Cohousing community, I tried to prepare for that kind of "unforeseen" with equanimity. What I didn't anticipate were the positive unforeseens.
One of those delights was our "Weed Pulling and Ice Cream Social" last week. One of our neighbors, Nan, who grew up on a West Branch farm, organized about a dozen of us to pull the seed heads off fox tails and other pesky weeds for one hour and then to leave the mosquitoes behind to go into the Common House dining room for ice cream, frozen yogurt and an array of tasty toppings. Nan even laid out sample weeds and photos on a table ("leave the buffalo grass and blue gramma but get everything else."). It was a surprisingly enjoyable way to end the day -- there's not much more satisfying than hearing the sweet music of a fox tail squealing when you carefully pull it from its base before dropping it into a bag. The ice cream reward's not too bad either.
And that's not the only pleasant "unforeseen" we have experienced here this summer. We have helped to plant trees, organize a hugely successful open house, shared the monthly all-member pizza nights, viewed movies together both at Film Scene ("Mr. Rogers") and in our shared living room ("Black Panther"), participated in a festive sing-along in the Common House and played Scrabble with some of our new neighbors.
We've also gotten a taste of how vibrant Iowa City and the surrounding areas are. We have been introduced to the Farmers' Market, several fun eateries such the Leaf Kitchen and the Bread Garden, plus Prairie Lights Books and the best public library we've ever belonged to, walks along the Iowa River, being here for RAGBRAI and welcoming a dozen bicyclists to stay overnight in the Common House, Art Fest (where we saw Joan Osborne and Pieta Brown perform, free), and a magical afternoon at the Iowa Farm Sanctuary in nearby Marengo, where I got to rub the muddy belly of a 250-pound pig named Fern.
So even at my advanced age, I am learning that "unforeseen" needn't be shadowy or scary. It can mean actually having fun pulling weeds. And having seconds of ice cream with friends afterwards.
Friday, August 3, 2018
24 hours at Prairie Hill
7:00 PM I arrived home from a trip that had been cut shorter than planned, and soon T came up my walk to check that everything was okay. We sat on my front porch and traded stories for a little while.
9:00 AM the next day M texted to see if we could talk about the agenda for an upcoming meeting. She was at my door 3 minutes later. She mentioned that the porch flowers needed watering every other day, so I volunteered to take turns with her, a 10 minute job at most.
11:00 AM An email had been sent to the members from C and M. They were going to a movie that evening. "Would anyone like to come along?" I decided I wanted an evening alone so declined the invitation.
12:00 Noon I ran into V as my dog Buddy and I started on our noontime walk. She reminded me of the field trip to the animal rescue farm next week. Eight were already signed up to go.
4:00 PM An email was circulated among current residents with information about caring for our new hardwood floors. Research had been done, and Bona Pro was the suggestion. J "replied all" and said he had a Bona Pro cleaner and would be glad to demonstrate it to anyone who cared to see.
7:00 PM I got a group email from N. She had just returned from her family farm with bags of sweet corn. Anyone who wanted a few ears could stop by and get it while it was still fresh. I went down to her place, returned a trowel we had borrowed, picked up the corn and sat and visited on her porch for a short time. T came to get corn and stayed awhile, and M came by as she took her cat for a walk.
While one of the stated advantages of living at Prairie Hill is being able to share resources, it hardly seems an adequate statement. In the last 24 hours I benefited from shared concern, shared time, shared knowledge, shared tools and shared vegetables. I've never lived anywhere like that before.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Prairie Hill was a happening place last Sunday, with cars backed up on Miller Avenue from both directions! We had a cheerful and interested crowd going through all the buildings here and on up to the garden. Our best count on visitors is more than 350, for that many plates were used, and some folks didn't even get to eat since the food ran out! We were excited and gratified at the turnout.
We offered three different kinds of tours: a site tour explaining the outdoor sustainability features, a tour focusing on community, and one on green building practices used here. Above is Annie Tucker leading the community tour.
The kids room was a popular spot for children of all ages. Above is Donna Rupp captivating a couple.
And there were even younger folks.
There was music too. This picture shows our living room full of singers.
The Yahoo Drummers livened the upper site all afternoon on the porch of the stacked flat.
And there was food! Lots of it.
Some of the food came from the Prairie Hill Garden.
All in all, we're really pleased with this first open house. We learned a lot, and plan to offer open houses on a less grand scale frequently now. Our first Information Meeting of the month will be this coming Saturday afternoon (August 4) at 1:00, and will be followed by a tour of the site. Spread the word!
Thursday, July 5, 2018
We recently welcomed 20 new "residents" to Prairie Hill. They arrived a few weeks ago with bare roots and lots of promise. They are, in fact, 20 small red bud trees we bought from the State Forest Nursery and planted on the slope to the east of the stacked flats. Within 10 days they had sprouted healthy bundles of leaves and we knew they needed names to reflect their determination to thrive. The membership was asked to suggest the names of powerful women who showed the same determination.
The young trees were christened with the names of 8 women of color, 7 outspoken environmentalists, several authors, a medieval queen, an explorer, a jurist, many social justice activists, a poet, three moms of Prairie Hill members, and a dad (because we can always use a good man).
Members were asked to adopt a tree and see that it is well cared for. Be sure to come by next spring to see Jane Goodall, Amelia Earhart, Michelle Obama, Shirley Chisholm, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Coretta Scott King, Jane Adams, Rachel Carson, Wangari Matai, Damita Brown, Maya Angelou, Mary Agnes Chase, Sojourner Truth, Joan Baez, Boadicia, Rosa Park, Lily Bailey, Nadine Gault, Fay Davis, and Alfred Fawcett in full bloom!
Monday, July 2, 2018
Friday, June 29, 2018
Prairie Hill announces an open house celebration! Come join us!! And help us spread the word! Here are the details:
Prairie Hill, Iowa's first cohousing community, is now open! Come celebrate this major milestone with us at a community open house from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 29.
- Visit our cozy energy-efficient homes
- Learn about the sustainability features that make this project unique
- Tour the common house kitchen, dining room, kids’ playroom, and sunny guestrooms
- Nibble tasty snacks!
- Bring the kids! Games and fun for all!
Hope to see you there!
Prairie Hill Community Open House
Sunday, July 29
140 Prairie Hill Lane, Iowa City
Sunday, July 29
140 Prairie Hill Lane, Iowa City