Saturday, May 26, 2018

Val's Birthday Dinner

Val, who just moved to Prairie Hill from California with her husband John, celebrated her birthday with us tonight at Iowa River Landing. Val (dark hair) and John are in the left-hand corner here.

More pictures from Michele:


A New Water Feature at Prairie Hill!

Below is our bioretention cell, a project combining the planning of our engineer and the construction by Forever Green landscapers. It has been waiting for plants for the past several months. Now, finally, a rich variety of plants chosen to do well in this wet and dry location has arrived and a team of us worked together on Friday morning to get these into the soil, right before the rain last night!

About Bioretention Cells:
Bioretention cells are landscaped depressions that capture and infiltrate stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces to reduce water pollution and stabilize stream flows. Beioretention cells have an engineered and constructed sub-grade to ensure adequate percolation of captured runoff.

Bioretention cells can be used in most settings, including parking lots and residential areas, where soils don't adequately drain. They use plants that can tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions. Native plants are encouraged because they have deep roots and maintain soil quality and pore spaces.

 Craig watering the plants as they were ready.

 David, Nan and Donna getting the plants in their proper places.

David has just finished planting Queen of the Meadow, and is getting ready to plant the next one.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

More current photos from Michele McNabb

Donna continues to refine her front garden, utilizing a downspout to create a water feature.

Welcome mat in the common house

A plethora of chairs and tables for the dining area

Kitchen donations are coming in.

Marcia mapping out where the bio-retention cell plantings go

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I Feel 50!

 I don't know if it is waking up naturally to birdsong at 6:30 am, the glorious spring weather we have been having of late or what, but something in the air around Prairie Hill is certainly invigorating!

 Everywhere one turns, members seem to be spending time here. Attending committee meetings, giving tours to interested parties -- of which we have had a lot lately -- hauling compost or long lengths of hoses uphill to the recently tilled 50' X 50' common garden or threaded through a Common House window down to the street to water our young trees (outdoor faucets not turned on yet). Seeing Nan and Donna planting raspberry bushes and flowers around the site, or Barb and Del painting and installing bike racks in front of the Common House. Members dreaming of and selecting plants for their personal garden spaces, Common House residents waiting for their occupancy permits so they can move in. Planning and dreaming and making decisions. The energy level is palpable!

 From my vantage point up here 'on the hill' it's been educational to observe each day's incremental developments as a pair of duplexes go up right outside my windows, as well as seeing my future townhouse take shape. Such a lot of details that all must fit together to  make a whole. And that's the way our community is working: each one pitching in and lending a hand where needed. And we all sleep well at night!

Michele McNabb

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

More Windows, More Raspberry Plants & More Fun!

Now Upper Windows in new duplex

Raspberry Plants Heeled-In for Tomorrow's Planting

First Social Gathering in Common House Dining Room

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Looking Forward to More Fun!!

This post is by Marcia Shaffer, a current Prairie Hill Cohousing resident. The pictures are from several cohousing communities visited during the Regional Cohousing Conference in Colorado.

I attended the Boulder Cohousing Conference in mid-April. One of the workshops I chose to attend was one about having fun in cohousing, and a member of Nyland Cohousing gave the presentation. Nyland has about 135 members, which is one of the larger cohousing projects. Their entertainment committee had a budget of $600 a year. For each year they made a "save the date" list of 12-15 events that they planned to have. Here is a sample of the types of things they planned for: a lawn party, New Year's Eve party, game night in the park, cocktail party (adults only), pumpkin carving, Halloween parade, camp out, Easter egg hunt, Memorial Day barbecue, dessert potluck and game night, ice cream for breakfast, slip and slide (in the summer), Gong show and an annual camp-out in a beautiful park. This sounds like a lot of activity and works out to about one a month. To pull this off they would have one member who would volunteer to plan one of these events and the person asked others to help.

They also had a number of clubs. For instance they had a hot tub club. The community bought the hot tub and then the club members did the maintenance. They also had clubs for poetry reading and one that planned films.

Besides all of these fun activities there were more events. A real popular program was an evening of slide pictures of members involved in activities through the year. They also had house concerts. For these they invited musicians in for a concert and passed the hat. This included jam sessions and drum sessions. The community rated the artists and the artists rated the audience. In addition each year they had an art project for all ages. One year they made mandalas. Another year they made peace cranes. Another project was touch stones made of cement with symbols pressed into them. And of course they had political forums in the common house, inviting the wider community in.

They talked of the T2AO of fun. This meant that you need to have Time and Trust to have fun. Also you need A (to ask) and O (to offer). These two things meant that you need to ask for what you need. For instance one renter wanted more singing. Singing was a huge success. We are spending a lot of time in meetings planning our community right now but we need to look ahead to see all the fun we are going to have.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Living and Building Community

Below is an article from Johnson County Livable Community's recent newsletter. I can't manage to reproduce the nice graphics here, but at least here's the text. It is by Carolyn Dyer, ICCH board of managers, and edited by Sadja Pals, JCLC.

Prairie Hill Is Iowa's First Cohousing Community

After six years of planning, the first residents have moved into the Prairie Hill Cohousing community, located along Miller Avenue in Iowa City. By summer 2018, 16 homes will be occupied, five homes will be available for new members, and more buildings will be under construction. When complete, the community will include 36 attached, owner-occupied homes with various floor plans, green open spaces, and a Common House for shared activities. While first-of-its-kind in Iowa, Prairie Hill is like most of the 150 cohousing communities in the United States---it is developed by the people who will live there based on values important to them. The original members determined they wanted to live sustainably among people of all ages and of diverse backgrounds, and to share talents, resources and responsibilities for maintaining the community.

Sustainable living for Prairie Hill involves building super-insulated, modest homes that meet the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. LEED, as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council, "provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings." Prairie Hill is also located so residents can minimize use of private cars and still easily meet their daily needs to reach the University of Iowa, downtown Iowa City, businesses, stores and restaurants. The nearly eight-acre community will be managed to conserve most stormwater on the land, and half of the property will feature gardens, an orchard, a prairie and open space.

This first cohousing community in Iowa has attracted members from the Iowa City area, many areas of Iowa, and several families from California.