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Today, I bring you a giveaway from SouleMama Sponsor, Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage. In the words of Abby and Denise:
"Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage is a self-developing community of 36 households creating an old-fashioned neighborhood of tightly clustered homes on 42 acres of farmland two miles from downtown Belfast, Maine. Homes are designed by certified Passive House Standards and will be highly energy efficient. Residents will own their own homes and share with their neighbors a barn, wood shop, and large common house. The common house accommodates overnight guests, children’s play space, community meals (optional), celebrations and organically-grown provisions. Our community’s mission is to be an environmentally sustainable, affordable, multi-generational cohousing community that includes land reserved for agricultural use and open space and is an innovative housing model for rural Maine."
You can keep up with news from Belfast by visiting their blog.
SouleMama: What inspired your project's beginnings?
Abby and Denise: In early 2007, four families sat down to start planning a cohousing community spurred on by a beautiful and well-loved dairy farm on the market. Since then, the group has grown to 27 households, purchased 42 acres of the farm, become a development LLC working with a project manager, the design/build team of GO Logic, and grown to a community of 27 equity members with a list of others waiting to join. In March 2010, the project received preliminary site plan approval from the City of Belfast Planning Board and is on its way to breaking ground in spring 2011. Project Manager and founder Sanna McKim is quoted as saying, “I’m personally excited about cohousing because it frees up time in my day to play with the kids, have a spontaneous glass of wine with a friend on the porch, and easily share meals and hobbies and resources…if we want. In fact, a friend who is moving into cohousing and I just bought a team of draft horses together for farming—something I just couldn’t have managed on my own right now.” The concepts of “peak oil” and the end of cheap oil are important motivators behind this innovative project, says McKim. “When we really looked at our dependence on fossil fuels for practically everything needed to live comfortably in Maine—home heating, transportation to work and school, even getting Hannaford’s shelves restocked every 5 days—an ecologically-minded cohousing community seemed like one viable and attractive alternative. Perhaps even an exciting model for the rest of rural Maine.”
Our group is inspired by its joint vision of living in a neighborhood where we know our neighbors—maybe better than some of our family members—and we can help each other out. It’s a safe and supportive place for kids to grow up; friends are close at hand and play happens easily, without the worry of street traffic, and without having to plan and drive to play dates. Our goal is to have at least 1/3 of the community made up of families when we move in. We’re inspired also by our vision of what a great place this will be for adult pursuits. Common interests and proximity encourage sharing of resources and ideas, allowing projects to sprout and grow; working together, members learn from the expertise of others in the community. We value the unique interactions that occur when several generations live alongside each other in a community setting, though we have yet to determine long-term strategies to maintain an intergenerational mix in our community over time. Our community is committed to continually seeking ways in which to lessen our impact on the Earth, and to encourage and support each other (and have fun) in developing those efforts along the way.
The Common House is the heart of the community. Unlike a traditional “community center” this building is what makes cohousing, cohousing. It is an extension of every resident’s own home and is a hub of activity. We will hold (optional) community dinners there 3-5 evenings per week, allowing more time in the evenings for recreation, homework and socializing. The Great Room is a gathering place for events, performances, educational offerings, and more. Other spaces include a children’s playroom, a teen room, living room/library, guest rooms, laundry and root cellar. The upstairs will eventually be home to such pursuits as yoga, craft/textiles projects, violin lessons, ping-pong and more.
SouleMama: Tell us about your community members?
Abby and Denise: Our community includes small business owners, educators, naturalists, an architect, a builder, alternative health care providers, farmers, physicians, artists, a software engineer, a Suzuki violin teacher, an HR professional, writers, nonprofit directors, retired professionals and children of all ages. Members joining presently live in a range of locations, from downtown Belfast to homes on 100+ acres to Boston area and beyond. To learn more about our varied creative and professional interests, visit the ‘Who We Are’ section of our website.
SouleMama: What motivates a family to join?
From a Family With Young Children: 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— 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 adventures and have had to cut our flock of sheep way down to a very manageable six. So, the more we thought about it, Belfast Cohousing seemed like a great choice for us. Only two miles out of town, it offers us farming, gardening, woods, and nature, but only a five minute drive to be parked downtown. We can still enjoy having agricultural animals, but sharing all that goes with ownership with others. The children will be able to run out the door to play with their friends within sight of many community members. We feel like it is important for our children to be around many children and adults, and this interaction will be very easy in our community with the walking paths through 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!) I also picture many craft projects spread out on the tables in the afternoons, and sitting in the living room talking with friends while children run back and forth between us and the children's playroom. Another reason we decided to join the community is to minimize our footprint and impact on the environment— 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—including a co-op of statewide fame, a very active downtown library, art galleries, a variety of music gatherings, and community theatre?
SouleMama: How can interested folks find out more?
Abby and Denise: On the 2nd Sunday of every month (2-4 p.m.), the community holds free family-friendly events open to the public at their temporary common house—a farmhouse on neighboring land at 45 Edgecomb Road in Belfast. All events provide the opportunity to meet families involved in the project, see a slideshow about cohousing, tour the prototype and learn more about the particular goals, benefits, designs and requirements for joining this forward-thinking community. A handful of homes are still available. For more information, please visit the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage website.
In the spirit of community in which they work and live, Belfast Cohousing & EcoVillage would like to give today, as their giveaway prize, to ONE winner:
a $75 gift certficate to any SouleMama Sponsor!
(some exceptions may apply)
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To enter, please leave a comment in today's post (one entry per person, please). Comments will close on Monday by 8am EST. Comments closed! Winners will be announced by end of day on Monday.
Thank you to Belfast CoHousing & EcoVillage!
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