Board Members Visit Community on Bainbridge Island - Sweetgrass Board Members Visit Community on Bainbridge Island - Sweetgrass

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caption bottom“Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives to all that live.” -Sioux Prayer
Board Members Visit Community on Bainbridge Island

Board Members Visit Community on Bainbridge Island

By Mary Kay Walton | 26-Aug-2017 | 0

Board Members Visit Community on Bainbridge Island

Sweetgrass board members traveled to Seattle in August and visited Winslow Cohousing Community on Bainbridge Island. The community members were preparing for their 25th anniversary celebration coming up on August 12, 2017. A 30-minute ferry ride prepared us for the slower pace at Winslow. The taxi dropped us off in the parking lot on the periphery of the property. That’s as far as cars go. This arrangement encourages walking and talking to neighbors.

We walked down the path and to a shaded terrace where we waited for our host, Lori Arakaki, a resident of Winslow. The terrace was inviting, with benches, tables and chairs, pots of flowers and string lights. Lori showed us into the Common House. A long room with high ceilings had a handsome kitchen on one end, a large fireplace on the other, and round tables and chairs for community dinners.  Lower- ceiling alcoves held tables for six, a piano and a play area for children. A cozy nook for reading was at the top of the stairs. Downstairs was a children’s playroom.

We sat down to talk with Lori, who is a member of the Process and Communication Cluster.  All community members serve on one of five clusters:  Administration, Process and Communication, Grounds, Common Facilities, and Maintenance.   Lori filled us in on the history of Winslow and how the community is governed.  There are around 65 residents, of all ages. She and her family have lived at Winslow for 18 years. Why did she and her husband move there?   To be close to neighbors,  people that she and her family could depend on, and for their children to have playmates in the neighborhood. It has all worked out as she expected.  She and her family have close friends there.  Her children have grown up in a secure environment and have enjoyed having playmates living close by.

The community meets monthly in the Common House.  Residents share the principle of decision making based on choices that benefit the community as a whole, not themselves as individuals. Having that goal in mind helps to create meetings that are primarily civil and constructive. The meetings are led by leaders who are trained in facilitation and neighbors are motivated to maintain an atmosphere of good will.  Meals are served five nights a week in the dining room. People are free to sign up for dinner, or not– their choice.

A walking tour took us out among the homes, connected by meandering sidewalks. Flowers and shrubs and trees contributed to the beauty of the site.

It is a small property– five acres. Most of the homes are two-story. Lori recalled that 25 years ago they weren’t focused on accommodating seniors. If begun today, she said, the design would be different.

Our walk took us to the vegetable garden that supplies much of the food for Winslow. A senior resident was working on the elaborate compost system he had created. Lori reported that working in the garden is voluntary. Some people love it and some don’t.

When we left to hop the ferry back to Seattle, we both felt excited about the prospect of living in a place like Winslow.

Thanks to Ross Chapin Architects for allowing us to use photos of communities and homes designed by the Ross Chapin company.  These designs depict our vision of the Sweetgrass community.


About Mary Kay Walton

Mary Kay Walton is the founder of Sweetgrass and is a serving board member.

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