Factoid: To signify the birth of a new building, Scandinavian iron workers, as early as 700 AD, placed a small tree atop the last beam before hoisting it into place
On April 26, in heightened anticipation, an estimated 100 invitees gathered to celebrate the final beam destined for Washington Commons. Painted white for signing by owners and builders, the steel beam would, suitably, go up in the elevator shaft. (Imagine all those proud little iron atoms buzzing around, giggling the way iron atoms do, making jokes. “Beam me up, Scotty!”)
Factoid: Captain Kirk never said ”Beam me up, Scotty.” (No lie. Look it up.)
For an ‘uplifting’ event, Washington Commons takes the taco (you had to be there). What a day! What a party! Anne, emotionally overcome, got teary. “It really was a profound day of love and appreciation for the construction workers and our professional team—and for what we are creating.”
Hard-hats off to our highly regarded construction superintendent John Randall. A construction superintendent from another MarketOne project attended our beam-signing just to see what John was up to. A MarketOne safety supervisor told Fran how proud he was that our building is going up so quickly. “And smoothly! No accidents, zero injuries!”
Chris, rising to the occasion to thank several construction workers, noted a pleased but bemused response. “It was probably a first for them! But such an upbeat atmosphere of inclusiveness! Everyone eating, gabbing, laughing, and signing the beam together, so energetic and happy.”
High-fives to the Social Team for topping expectations! Seeing everyone sign the beam overwhelmed Jenny. “This ceremony was an amazing way to celebrate our construction workers, UDP, investors, and Washington Commons members. I loved it!” she said, giving a shout-out to Bea, Carol, Lisa, Patrick, and Sandra. “And thanks to Nancy for the Oak Tree! And Cathy and Danny for helping plan the party! Plus Sarah from MarketOne for coming up with tables, chairs, and delicious food!”
Carol’s reaction: “Wonderful beyond belief! Just a delight to break bread (fabulous Mexican feast!) and thank so many individuals involved in our project. So inclusive! Construction crew, office workers, title company and bank officials—a once-in-a-lifetime experience!“
Summing up, Stu felt the beam signing enlarged his and Willa’s appreciation for their 6-year-long journey. ”It is not just members’ money purchasing a building. Our building is people: construction workers, bankers, lenders, friends, relatives. To see them come together and sign the beam expanded our notion of who is creating this better way to live. It’s not only the future residents!”
“Future residents meeting the workers building their homes is unusual,” agreed Danny. “And wonderful!” she added, beaming.
Factoid: Iron is found not only on earth but in the sun and stars.
Meet Our Newest Members!
Our most recent members, Terri and Laura, are both graduates of WCC's first Explorer University. Terri, who had been an explorer at WCC in 2021, stayed in contact, returned for Explorer U, and became a full member after completing the minimum 30 days. Laura, a California native, had also tested the Cohousing water and couldn't wait to dive in.
Hello, I'm Laura, a 60-year old divorced woman. I retired early after a 33-year career with AT&T. I moved to Cotati CA in 2016 after living in Durango CO and Alameda CA. I became interested in co-housing after hearing about it from one of my meditation buddies when I lived in Alameda. I’ve toured many of the communities in the East Bay and North Bay and I’m very interested in moving to Washington Commons. I subletted at a co-housing community last year, for 2.5 months, in order to see if I enjoyed living in community, and I loved it. It just solidified how co-housing is the right path for me. I had been on the waitlist for two communities, but I have found that once people move into co-housing they never leave 😊. I had a chance to be on the common house committee when I was subletting, and I’ve stayed on the committee after I left, so I bring that experience to Washington Commons.
My interests are movies, books, and meditation and I would love to talk to you about any of those things (I can talk about movies for hours). I’m an extrovert and I look forward to getting to know my future neighbors and doing the work to create our community connections before we all move in together.
"I was born in Detroit, raised in the (all white) suburbs, and escaped to Seattle as soon as I finished my undergraduate degree. I stayed for 15 years working in research labs at the University of Washington and co-parented a son who is all grown up now and settled in the Seattle area. I moved with my partner to Madison, WI, where we found a wonderful and welcoming community and I completed a PhD in the biology of cancer. In 1998 we moved to San Francisco where I continued as a cancer researcher at the UCSF Cancer Center. For the past 12 years I've been working at a small biotech company that is focused on developing genetically engineered viruses as a cancer therapy.
I've experienced the ups and downs of the biotech industry, but I still love the science. Right now I'm part of a small team searching for funding to form a new spin-off company, which would be an amazing way to finish my career. (Broken record: I said the same thing 2 years ago, but this time we have more support and no COVID lockdown, though the current bank failures don't help).
Outside of work I can count on my 19 year old son and almost 17 year old daughter to make me feel irrelevant and give me plenty of chances to practice my listening skills. In my free time I like to get outdoors; also reading, walking, biking, attending live music performances and playing softball. I've played in the SF Gay Softball League for ten years and hope to experience at least one more Gay World Series. I've loved the concept of cohousing since I first read about it 25 years ago."
March 8 Site Visit Photo Journal
Hover over the images below for captions!
March '23 Construction Update
Our project is still on the “upswing,” in spite of the weather! As promised, the framing for all the floors is moving fast. A gigantic crane blocked the street for a day and lifted wood to the top of the third floor, ready to frame the units above.
Looking down on the building, you can see the large open space on the right, which will be our common dining room. Steel beams create a high ceiling free of posts, and the stairs rise from the lobby below. To the left is the large terrace with the outline of a garden planter box. The second and third floor framing is nearly complete, and the fourth floor is starting. In the background are the two gold towers of the Tower Bridge.
We have several 1 and 2 bedroom condominium flats available. Become an Explorer and join us on our next (April 15) site tour!
now put those two together – we can have fun and make an important contribution to reducing climate change emissions.
We learned about the City of West Sacramento’s existing bicycle network and plans for future improvements. Washington Commoners will have a great place to ride their bikes!
We learned that it’s a great time to buy an e-bike. The newer ones are lighter due to smaller more efficient batteries and motors. They include advanced computer technology and apps to help us navigate and track our progress.
We learned a little about the law. The California Vehicle Code (CVS) section 312.5 defines 3 classes of e-bikes:
We learned the key aspects of e-bikes to help us select our own transportation. Very likely, we’ll select bikes useful for getting around town easily and safely –comfort bikes are easy to ride about town; cargo bikes are for hauling; and three wheelers (trikes) are for those with balance concerns.
We learned about types of electric pedal assist:
We learned about e-bike batteries: Many modern e-bikes have the motor built into the crank area where you pedal (mid-drive). This provides good weight balance and integrated wiring. Some have the battery and motor on the back wheel hub (hub drive). This allows any traditional bike to be used as an e-bike and can offer regenerative braking.
We learned how to choose a great E-Bike:
A final thought from Peter Jacobsen, one of our presenters: “Bicycles are the most efficient land transportation humanity has ever invented, so implementing measures to increase bicycle usage is a good thing for society’s overall energy use.” “This is the way to keep your mobility – and enjoy doing it – without using a car!” Darell Dickey said.
Thank you to Peter, Darell and all of our presenters: Steve Rosen, Ken Bradford, Arlete Hodel and Jonathan Burke.
We learned and we were inspired!
Washington Commons Cohousing & SABA
Deb Banks, SABA & Anne Geraghty, Washington Commons
If you'd like to find e-bike dealers in Sacramento, Davis or Folsom, check out our curated list!
Have you met Jenny?
So, this woman walks into a bar. Well, no, not actually a bar. It’s Swabbies, a restaurant on the American River in Sacramento. She likes the place for its live music. She’s a fan of bands. Her favorite is U2. And if she could go back in time, she’d love to be rockin’ out to the Mamas and the Papas at the famous Monterey Pop Festival, and other favorites, like Simon & Garfunkel and Janis Joplin.
But she’s in Sacramento, where she always is (except when she isn’t— and we’ll come back to that). Sacramento is home. She grew up there. Both her dad and grandfather worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. As a youngster, she loved being with her grandfather in his white VW bug. “Awesome to ride in!” she’ll tell you. Some of her happiest childhood memories connect to family, like going to her grandparents’ house. Her grandmother made the best noodles! And she and her sister got to cut them up! Her grandfather made pancakes, and he’d take her to the park to feed the ducks.
Those family connections, they matter a lot. She’s become the family historian (and it’s kinda cool that on her dad’s side she’s related to President Andrew Jackson). And if Monterey’s Pop Festival isn’t back far enough on the time-travel itinerary, she’d like to spend a day with her family in the 1840s, coming across the country on the Oregon Trail. She loves genealogy. Also her dogs, reading, and photography (mainly landscape). And she loves to travel!
When she wants to get outta Dodge, she really wants to see the world. The whole world. As a kid, she wanted to be an astronaut (loved seeing the space shuttle), and get a look at the planet! So, like, that didn’t happen, but she’s seen a lot of this world from ground level. She’s just so curious! Ask her about Cambodia. Or her destination for a special birthday (if you guessed Machu Picchu, you’re right!).
Since the astronaut thing wasn’t likely, by high school she knew she wanted to work in the medical field. And knew she loved photography. Voila! Xray tech! Happily employed by the Sutter Medical Center, for the past 22 years she’s written Radiologic Technician when forms ask her occupation. After starting off as an Xray tech, she enjoyed ten years as a CT (cat scan) tech, then five in Interventional Radiology, and now she’s with the Cardiovascular Lab, scrubbing in and assisting surgeons.
But, wait, we didn’t leave this woman walking into a hospital lab, she walked into a restaurant! And not Swabbies. She waked into the (drum roll, please) Tree House Cafe! Meeting her best friend there for lunch she’d walked past a sign: Washington Commons. And then on the cafe’s counter she saw postcards for Washington Commons. She’s just so curious, remember? So she asked what’s Washington Commons. The counter lady told her they were “awesome people” creating a community (take a bow, Anne!), and she should check it out. So she did.
In her own words: “Shelly gave me hope for a better future. To return to a time where I knew my neighbors and everyone was willing to help. I love this vision for my future.”
Meet your neighbor: Jenny Palmer.
Reflections on freedom
Then we got the news that the SCOTUS decided all my fellow citizens should be free to hide a gun in their pocket, not a freedom that I embrace. I found myself beginning to wonder if freedom might be over-rated. I questioned whether that sentiment would go over well with my new neighbors, so I decided to try again later.
The next day, I ran across following quote while reading Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, The Book of Joy, about the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu: ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space, lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and happiness.’ I love this idea that as long as I have some cognitive control, I can think whatever I want. While this conception has personal appeal, it also made me feel privileged and oblivious to the stifling oppression that folks around the world face. So, I decided to try again later.
And, today, as I got the email that the freedom remarks are due tomorrow, I found myself overwhelmed by the outpouring of rage on social media about the loss of reproductive freedom for so many women in America. I was reminded that it’s easy to take our freedoms for granted, so I decided to write something.
So, my thoughts on freedom do not cohere into a pithy newsletter contribution, rather, I am as perplexed as ever about freedom. Is it a state of mind or a state of being? Can we have too much of it? And perhaps, most relevant to Washington Commons, when does my neighbor’s freedom impinge on my well-being?” - Becki
“Your request brought to mind a cheerful song I often sing while ‘cat dancing.’ You need a cooperative cat who will let you hold him and dance around the room, at least for a minute or two. The song is ‘Free A Little Bird,’ and you can hear it on YouTube.” - Fran
“Freedom for me this 4th of July, is being able to lightly salt my salad one year after my heart attack (July 2, 2021).” - Patrick
“Thich Nhat Hahn’s gatha ‘Breathing in, I am home - Breathing out, I am free’ defines freedom for me. May all beings, visible and invisible, past, present and future be intimate with their breath. May they be home, be free…” - Sandra
“‘Freedom! Freedom! Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, I'm almost gone, a long, long way from home. When I need my mother or my brother, I can telegraph them from my heart. Freedom! Freedom!’ (Richie Havens, Freedom [Motherless Child]).
I'm dating myself with lyrics from Richie Havens. (No, I wasn't at Woodstock in August 1969. A story for another time.)” - Stu P
“‘It’s about freedom,’ I said. I was one of many speakers testifying in support of access to sidewalks by people with disabilities. The speaker before me noted our city council’s diverse makeup. She said to them, ‘Many of you wouldn’t be here if people hadn’t demonstrated for civil rights.’
Her statement brought tears to my eyes and the realization that the issue was about freedom — and fighting for freedom. Freedom to move about unhindered by obstacles. Freedom to go where you want to go... on foot or in a wheelchair. Freedom deserved by all.” - Anne
“‘Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,’ (Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee).
‘And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,’ (Declaration of Independence, 1776).
‘Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here,’ said Captain Parker, to those first farmers attempting to secure their rights. Engraved on the Minuteman Monument in the Lexington MA green where the first shots were heard.” - Tom
“As we approach this July 4th, I must say I am worried for this noble experiment that is America. We seem to be hanging by a thread, deeply divided, fearful of the 'other', and confused over facts and 'alternate facts.' In looking for a quote on freedom for this time, I found the following one by Aung San Suu Kyi's particularly poignant:
‘The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is the freedom from fear.’” - Barbara
“I value not only freedom of religion, but from religion. There’s lots more I value, including the freedom of women in our country to control their own bodies, health and destinies, freedom of movement and the freedom to be in our remaining unspoiled natural spaces.” - Chris H.
“This is a timely and thought-provoking subject. If not already taken, I would like to list this quote from Herbert Hoover as my reflection on freedom: ‘Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.’” - Carol
“Freedom to choose to live with people who are like-minded, caring, and who are committed to making our community and world a better place.” - Lisa
“Today, I must remind myself of the lessons from history about the courage and perseverance of those who fought against injustice, corrupt power, genocide, greed and countless atrocities toward humankind. To this end, today, I am inspired by the following quotes, both by Gandhi:
‘It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.’
‘The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.’” - Durriyah
“Talking with friends this morning, we can't feel as free as we did with Roe V. Wade in place. Could say more, but that's it for now.” - Willa
“Disney Plus first made the live recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway rap musical, Hamilton available on July 3, 2020. This deliciously irreverent version of our founding story (America’s) was a wonderful way to celebrate the Fourth just one month into our journey with our cohousing community, Washington Commons. I see parallels. We both have a vision statement based on universal/not nationalistic values, we cherish freedom, justice and equality, we prize diversity and want all voices to be heard. We are willing to commit and sacrifice to achieve our goal.
‘Immigrants, we get the job done!’ (Hamilton, 2015).
‘I’m just like my country. I’m young, scrappy and hungry,’ (Hamilton, 2015).
‘A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people,’ (Declaration of Independence, 1776).” - Lenore
Laughing yoga loosens body and mind at SuperWeekend.
Washington Commons has turned its attention to building community; creating the culture we want and deepening relationships with one another and the larger community we are joining. No permit required.
To this end, on May 13-15 WCC members from near and far gathered in person and via Zoom for a second SuperWeekend event. The weekend was devoted to 3 essential aspects of healthy relationships: 1) Effective Project Management, 2) Community Glue, 3) Good Process and Communication Skills. We kicked off Friday evening with a shared meal at our favorite local eatery, The TreeHouse Cafe. We would learn on Sunday that food is the #1 way of attending to 'Community Glue.’
Saturday morning, members were treated to a workshop with Danny Milman (Construction Project Manager) on options, upgrades and status of construction. We then topped off our "pot of good feelings" with lunch at Midway Bar, followed by some Non-Violent Communication (NVC) in the form of Laughing Yoga, led by member Durriyah. After laughter, a walk in the riparian woods along the Sacramento River north of our community led by Anne included some litter removal in support of SPIU (Sacramento Picks It Up).
Having worked up an appetite, members topped off the "pot" again at Burgers and Brew and joined in another neighborhood activity; Second Saturday Sacramento. Transit to and from activities was arranged by member, Jenny. As a long-time resident of West Sacramento and Sacramento, Jenny gave us the inside scoop on where to eat and what to do.
On Sunday the SuperWeekend continued as a hybrid in-person/Zoom event. Two workshops were facilitated by Sarah Arthurs of Prairie Sky CoHousing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She introduced Diana Leafe Christian's three aspects of healthy relationships as a framework for thinking about the culture and governance of the community we are creating. We explored these aspects with our future neighbors in breakout rooms. We examined the governance and project management we have in our established committees, and did a bit of team building within those teams by coming up with a motto or team song. One break-out room came up with the slogan for how we've accomplished so much already, "Hanging In, Hanging Loose, and Hanging Out." It was cheered by all.
Break snacks were provided by Allyce and Frances between workshops, and a catered lunch was served at the spacious West Sacramento Community Center after the workshops. The weekend concluded with our General Meeting. It was a full weekend, rich in shared enjoyable activities, which we learned creates oxytocin — the hormone that produces feelings of trust and gratitude. And that’s the ‘Glue’ to building community.
The SuperWeekend was brilliantly planned and organized by the talented SuperWeekend team of Rachel, Jenny, Cathy, and Evelyn. Thank you all.