On the Bikeway, Bike to the Sea, Northern Strand Community Trail

The following is a recounting by Bay State Commons member John Pustell trying out the ‘Bike to the Sea / Northern Strand community trail, which is only half a mile from the Bay State Commons location. Members look forward to using the bike trail more often. And also having access to local parks, and biking and hiking the trails in the nearby 2,200-acre Middlesex Fells Reservation.


Bike to the Sea

My twin brother is training for a marathon bike ride in NY, so he wanted a light ride and I said sure I’ll go along. I have not been on a bike in a long time, but I used to ride a fair amount. He uses a handcycle, a recumbent with three wheels, so I was sure I could keep up, And I mostly did.  More on that later.

It was a gorgeous day, barely a cloud in the sky and temps in the 70’s. We unloaded our bikes at the southern end by Everett Earthworks Park and were excited to get going.  We added some air to our tires, checked our water bottles, and were on our way. One thing I learned quickly—everybody is friendly and says “hi” when the dude on the handcycle says “hi” first.


Riding by the Bay State Commons Site

The path is in beautiful shape and the crossings are limited so we moved up to Malden center quickly. I will normally join the path in Malden once our Bay State Commons condominium building is completed.  After the center, we passed the community gardens where we saw many folks working them (looks like fun!).  As a matter of fact—all along the way, in Malden, Revere, Saugus, and Lynn good people were out picking up trash and straightening things out to make it better for folks using the trail. (Thanks all you volunteers!!)

We made great time until we hit the gravelly bits—starting 4 miles on in Revere—and then we slowed down a bit.  On the 3-wheel handcycle, Steve had to hunt harder for the smoother areas—and almost always at least one wheel was in the soft stuff.  He was working hard—but so, it turns out, was I.

But the trail is beautiful, shaded and NOT a road (no cars) so we did not mind too much.  We were having fun.  The Saugus River Marsh was lovely and herons and other waterfowl abounded.

The Bike to the Sea trail becomes rougher and narrower

At 7.4 miles (about where we crossed Lincoln Ave)—the route got a lot rougher and narrower. But my brother was “Going to the Sea” and was not to be deterred.  The path gets rougher here and narrower—and the old rails are still there next to the path—and then we came to the old railroad bridges across inlets.  The path bridge is planked—but it is exactly the same width as my brother’s rear track.  He’s a pro though. He went right on the bridge, trike perfectly placed and we went across. (I could not have done it.)

The path narrowed again, not even as wide as his rear wheels are spaced. My brother kept on and in ½ mile (only lightly scratched by brambles) we broke out onto summer street. Deciding a little reluctantly that safety is the better part of valor, we took the roads to start back.  Summer Street to Western Ave—to Ballard to Lincoln. (I wanted to stop at Kane’s Donuts but my brother was the better man and said no).  We got back on the bike path where Lincoln becomes Salem and it was just a few miles back. We passed some of those same volunteers still working! (Thanks Volunteers!) We were soon back after a great ride (though I was more tired than my brother).

Looking forward to more at Bay State Commons

Once my family and I move into our new home at the BSC Condo, I look forward to many more adventures on this easily accessible and fun bike path in the future!  And maybe after I do a few trips—I’ll be better able to keep up with Steve!

Next post—walking my dog in the Middlesex Fells.

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In the twilight of fall, as daylight hours grow shorter, members of Bay State Commons Cohousing have been actively repurposing the concept of home is where the heart is. As we look to build a common building near Malden center, we continue to come together to grow our community. As the Thanksgiving holiday neared, two BSC members sent an email: ‘Our plans have changed. Would anyone like to have Thanksgiving together?’ In short order there were 18 willing participants, and on Thanksgiving we met at a home in Medford to share in relaxed conversation, delicious food, and a warm atmosphere.

Thanksgiving 2018
Around three dinner tables

Cheese wheel

Shortly thereafter we gave thanks to Cornerstone Village Cohousing for hosting our group in their common space without asking for anything in payment. We reciprocated by cooking a meal for 70 that included various lasagnas, salads, sides and many desserts, including apple-berry pie. It was the first night of Hanukah, so we lit the first candle on a menorah, and also celebrated members of BSC and Cornerstone who had December birthdays.

Thank you Cornerstone pie
Thank you Cornerstone
Gathering at Cornerstone Village cohousing
Gathering at Cornerstone Village cohousing








As we work together to build a common home in Malden, our hearts are full with thanks to everyone who has supported our project and encouraged us to make cohousing a reality. We have amazing guides, neighbors and friends who are a tremendous source of strength. Thank you!

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Try it, you’ll strike it! Sacco’s Bowl Haven, May 27, 2018

Outside it was a brisk, grey, slightly wet day – in other words, perfect weather for bowling! Inside Somerville’s Sacco’s Bowl Haven, thirty BSC members gathered for a couple of hours of bowling and socializing, fueled by pizza and lemonade. Our group was assigned four consecutive lanes in what felt like a cozy corner on the side away from the Flatbread Company. Each lane has comfortable seating and a table for six players. Behind this area, there’s a divider with a narrow counter where one can stand, watch the action, socialize and eat. The overall layout invites both bowling and hobnobbing, and there seemed to be an equal number of us doing either at any given time.

Trying our skills at Sacco's Bowl Haven!
Trying out our skills at Sacco’s Bowl Haven!
Candlepin bowling at its best
Candlepin bowling at its best

Among those of us who bowled, many (including yours truly) didn’t keep score. We just enjoyed knocking down pins and cheering on others to do the same. And if, by chance, our best attempts to topple a pin failed, so what! We pushed the button and moved on, as did the still-standing pins. Among other newsworthy details, it should be noted that at least one person arrived perfectly attired in a classic bowling shirt!

Someone is wearing a bowling shirt
Someone is wearing a bowling shirt

And at least one group kept score! Is Ricardo explaining the fine points of scoring to a captive audience in one of the photos?

Ricardo has us captivated
Ricardo has us captivated

And finally, near the end, someone with no shame obtained a device designed to deliver a ball down the lane more precisely than most of us can; but alas, in the end it, too, disappointed. Oh well. This was all the evidence (and excuse) some of us needed!

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BSC Meal-Planning Social with Jay Diengott, April 22, 2018

Yesterday’s meal planning experience reminded me of the axiom “home is where the hearth is”. True, we were in a commercial kitchen at the Melrose UU Church where nary a fireplace is to be found, but our group of sixteen brought a coziness to the space that was further enhanced by chef extraordinaire, Jay Diengott, who guided us through the preparation of a vegetarian, gluten-free meal. Jay started with an overview (documented in a 5-page handout) and then quickly moved on to food prep. Soon we were all participating as Jay directed the work-flow and kept up a running commentary, offering tips such as how to more efficiently chop vegetables (especially onions), pointing out that some spices and herbs elicit strong reactions (cumin and cilantro), and explaining that she chose quinoa for one of the salads because it is a complete protein source — always an important consideration in vegetarian cooking. Jay also demonstrated the use of two grating utensils, the mandolin and microplane. The main course was baked falafel, which generated a good deal of discussion about working with dried beans. Jay had soaked the chickpeas overnight and then used a food-processor to grind and mix them (still raw) with the other ingredients before baking. Dessert was candied pecans, a simple and delicious finish to a perfect meal!

Jay Diengott (jrdiengott@gmail.com) specializes in gluten-free cooking and today’s menu of cucumber salad, quinoa salad, baked falafel, and candied pecans was an easy and delicious example that provided an excellent opportunity to broaden our culinary skills! 

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Bay State Commons March Newsletter

In our last newsletter, we told you how our recent recruiting efforts had yielded a large group of prospective members at our meetings. A month later, many of those prospectives have already become associate members and are on a path to become equity members and commit to a condo in our 30-unit building adjacent to the Orange Line.

Things move forward with the permitting process with the City of Malden. We await our hearing date with city officials and feel confident that we will be able to navigate any bumps in the road to a groundbreaking later this year.

Anyone out there looking to really downsize? We still have all unit types available, though we are especially interested in hearing from people interested in studios. Getting a studio and making use of all the common space we will have is the most economical way to join our cohousing community! In addition to private units, the property is envisioned to have 5,000 square feet of expanded common spaces, including a meeting & work room, entertainment room, wood shop, yoga/workout studio, kids play room, arts room, music room, social room/pub, great room and large common kitchen and dining area that may be used for optional weekly shared meals. There are also outdoor decks on each floor, and a courtyard with green space that is envisioned to host gardening and other outdoor activities. There will be underground parking.
The site plan and unit availability page on our webpage shows more information about our 30 condominiums.

Please join us at these upcoming events:

Tuesday, March 20, 6:30–9pm, business meeting at Cornerstone Cohousing, 175 Harvey Street, Cambridge, MA. Please click here for directions.
Thursday, March 22, 7-8:30pm, Design Committee ‘Show and Tell’, a presentation of how we arrived at the design of our cohousing complex. Location TBD.

We now offer group childcare for our business meetings. Please ask for more details. And check out our Facebook page and our Meetup group!

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Bay State Commons February Newsletter

Bay State Commons west side of building schematic
3D printed schematic of building

Greetings from Bay State Commons Cohousing!

Things are moving quickly for BSC. We have entered the permitting process with the city of Malden for the Orange-Line-adjacent site we are purchasing at 368 Pleasant Street. At our business meetings, members have completed a series of decisions that will affect the structure of our 30-unit building. And thanks to recent print advertising and recruiting events, we have a large group of active prospectives, some of whom have already entered the membership process.

In a few short months, our membership will be full. So now is the time to get involved if you think cohousing might be right for you. Bay State Commons will be the first new cohousing community in Greater Boston in over 10 years, and it may be many years until the next one comes along. The site plan and unit availability page on our webpage shows more information about our 30 condominiums.
Please join us at these upcoming events:

● Thursday, March 1, 7-8:30pm, BSC Information Session! Cambridge Cohousing, 175 Richdale Avenue, Cambridge, MA. Please click here for directions.

We now offer group babysitting for our business meetings. Please ask for more details. And check out our Facebook page and our Meetup group!

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Supporting sustainability at Bay State Commons: A snapshot of the ECo team

View of GreenBuild Expo

In November and December, the Bay State Commons Environmental Committee (ECo) supported BSC sustainability efforts by attending several expos and events, and considered different efficiency and clean energy options for the Bay State Commons project.

Sustainability at work: ECo team visiting GreenBuild Expo Nov 8th
Environment Committee (ECo) members Christine, Trudy and Elizabeth visit Solar Flower booth at 2017 GreenBuild

Several ECo members went to the Boston GreenBuild Expo on November 8th, where they visited company booths for a range of technologies, including electric vehicle charging stations, bike racking systems, new wall insulation techniques, and efficient building heat pump systems, among others.

On December 1st, several members participated in a tour of the new Bristol Community College’s net zero health and science center. The building uses a large ground-source heat pump system, solar hot water and solar electric panels, and has a tightly sealed building envelope.

Sustainability at work: BSC ECo members 'looking under the hood' at piping during tour
BSC ECo members ‘looking under the hood’ at piping during net-zero building tour
Sustainability at work: Scoping out solar parking canopy
Checking out solar parking canopy

Lastly, ECo and other BSC members plan to visit a new multi-family net zero project in Boston that has several features in common with our project. Although our project may not be net zero, we are envisioning a space that will be comfortable for members, have a reduced carbon footprint, and lower heating and cooling costs over time. ECo members intend to continue to support sustainability efforts, and have a lot of fun in the process.

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October workday supports cohousing community

A Cohousing Workday

BSC member weeding at Cornerstone
BSC member weeding at Cornerstone

Members of Cornerstone Village Cohousing have graciously opened their doors and allowed Bay State Commons cohousing to host meetings twice a month in their common house area. In order to show appreciation and give back to our hosts, on a Saturday in late October members of Bay State Commons cohousing joined the residents of Cornerstone for an on-site workday. There were many indoor and outdoor projects to tackle in order to prepare their common facilities, green space, and gardens for winter. This included trimming back plants of all sizes, raking, pulling weeds, painting, and sweeping.

Fun Fact

Cornerstone was a featured stop on a 2017 ‘Secret Gardens of Cambridge’ community tour, something Cornerstone’s urban gardeners are proud of.

Urban Green Space

It was a beautiful day to be outdoors. While working, people laughed, shared stories, and in many instances got down in the dirt and interacted with the green space, something that is generally uncommon in an urban setting. It was a great model for Bay State Commons cohousing members to see. Similar to Cornerstone, the future Bay State Commons site is planned to be in a similar semi-urban setting. Our project is also envisioned to maximize outdoor green space.

BSC cohousing member raking fall leaves
Raking fall leaves

Work-day participants also connected over a tasty lunch prepared by several Bay State Commons volunteer chefs. Overall the workday was a success, and we want to thank Cornerstone for their generosity in allowing us to use their common space for our meetings. They continue to support and inspire us as we move forward and envision our own future building and community green space.


Bay State Commons cohousing members in action

BSC cohousing member cleaning common work area
Cleaning common work area
BSC cohousing member adding a coat of paint to swing set
Adding a coat of paint to swing set
BSC cohousing member hedging at Cornerstone
BSC member hedging at Cornerstone
BSC cohousing member - Meal prep at its finest
Meal prep at its finest
BSC cohousing member enjoying a meal outside
Enjoying a meal outside
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November 2017 Newsletter Update – Bay State Commons Forging Ahead On Schedule

Model of the ground floor of the common house, mid-2017.
Model of the ground floor of the common house, mid-2017.

Bay State Commons Cohousing is forging ahead on schedule, and is looking for new members to join as we move towards construction.  We have finished the design sessions with our architects, who will now be converting our conceptual design to building plans which can be submitted to the city for approval.

Before the design is finished we have 15 “small” design issues to resolve at our meetings.   Do we want a fireplace and if so, a wood or gas fireplace?  How do we handle trash and recycling?  Do we want a metal roof?  Would a ground source heat pump work for us? Etc.

Near the end of 2017, we will formally apply for project permitting from the City of Malden. Between now and then, we have time to work out some final design details and focus on marketing. Of our community’s envisioned 30 units, we have now sold 14, and 5 households have expressed an intent to become an ‘Equity Member’ and commit to purchase a unit.

By the end of January 2018, we will execute our option to buy 368 Pleasant Street and become its owners. By early to mid-2018, we hope to complete permitting and construction financing. At that time, we would break ground and begin construction on our new homes. If all goes according to plan, the new community’s doors will open in mid-2019.

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting project, send us an email, or come to one of our every-other week planning meetings or upcoming social events to learn more and get involved!  www.baystatecommons.org or baystatecommons@gmail.com

Hope to be in contact!

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Bay State Commons on Boston.com

Peter Goldstein, the founder of Boston’s newest cohousing initiative, Bay State Commons, is grateful for the wider community. “Every single time that you speak to people who have been involved in cohousing, they will give you their hard-won pieces of wisdom about what to do and not to do,” Goldstein said.


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