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.
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!
And at least one group kept score! Is Ricardo explaining the fine points of scoring to a captive audience in one of the photos?
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!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 email@example.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.
For Goldstein, and others like him, intentional communities can be the antidote to a prevailing model of society that they find constraining or unfulfilling — a model that presents marriage, a house, 2.5 kids and a prosperous career as hallmarks of a fruitful adulthood. “When I look back on parts of my life when I have felt fulfilled, or where I’ve produced the most positive memories, they have always been times when I’m involved in some kind of tight-knit community,” Goldstein said.
“Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community. The physical design encourages both social contact and individual space. Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground, and a common house with a large kitchen and dining room/meeting room and other facilities.”
These characteristics serve to distinguish cohousing from other types of collaborative housing:
Non-hierarchical governance structure and decision-making