Diversity in cohousing is not a new topic, but it is a conversation that is increasingly at the forefront of forming communities as the discussion has grown nationally in all aspects of contemporary life. This subject is not easy to approach, it requires lots of unlearning, listening, and often times uncomfortable introspection. It is not a topic that we can decipher alone, and takes the coming together of various groups and demographics to begin to understand the root of the problem, and how we can affect change in our own lives and communities.
Here at Washington Commons we have enlisted the help of Dr. Stacie Walton, better known as the Diversity Doctor, to learn how we can better create a welcomingly diverse community environment.
In our first meeting with Stacie, she emphasized intention and action. She queried us as to what results we really want. This led us to creating an action plan which we are now implementing. This plan includes strategically redesigning our website, initiating a list of organizations in our community that we can work with and share our message with such as the black Chamber of Commerce, the urban league and various service organizations. We are working to outline economic options for first time homebuyers and others with limited financial resources. We set up to focus groups to query in a neutral environment people of color who had participated in past site tours to learn whether our processes had could be improved.
"I personally think the most powerful thing that Stacie did for us was to engage us in a way that mobilized our intention. We have been desiring this but without any sense of efficacy. Stacie gave us the sense that we really could make a difference. That even small things could make a difference. She is also working with us on the topic of healing, resulting in profound realizations. I desire diversity, and my intention is to be welcoming. But, I have, in effect, a counter intention that and that is “Why would any people of color want to be with us? Why after all we as a culture have done to them?” I’m working on healing this and making myself truly open to engaging with people of color who I’m learning are very excited about engaging with us."
- Anne Geraghty, Washington Commons Community Member
We continue to work every day to create a more welcoming and diverse environment. We are listening, learning, and unlearning. With the guidance of Dr. Stacie Walton we feel like we are beginning to fully embody our mission statement: "Our daring effort to live well with care for each other and the environment, learn from each other, respect our differences, and make great community decisions."
Thanks for reading.
We are thrilled to introduce our two newest members who both share a history of cohousing and Sacramento. Bea, joining us from Flagstaff, was a resident of N Street Cohousing in Davis many years ago. Cathy, joining us from Sacramento, was involved in the formation of Southside Cohousing in Sacramento and is excited to be joining our community.
N Street Cohousing in Davis was my home for part of that time and I’m grateful to my friends there who taught me the joy and rewards of community living.
Washington Commons is now affording me the opportunity to come “home”. My heart has longed to be back among friends, water, fabulous bird watching locations and gorgeously blooming gardens in Sacramento. Living almost beside the Sacramento River, but steps from the Capitol, restaurants, arenas and with my new family at Washington Commons is my heart’s desire. Sharing much of daily life while having my own private home will be icing on my cake.”
I am a retired clinical social worker writing a book about my work with veterans at the VA, which was terrific, and VA mental health policy, which needs improvement. When I’m not writing I enjoy gardening, music, and the Sierra Nevada to ski, hike, and camp. I’m looking forward to the possibility of visiting some wineries with other members, having buddies to cycle our American River Bike Trail and sail at Lake Washington Sailing Club, just ten minutes from Washington Commons. It’s hard to beat an evening sail when the Delta breeze kicks in after a hot summer day in Sacramento."
WELCOME Bea and Cathy, it is a joy to be creating community together!
According to Erik's research, the hallmark of projects that succeed in creating cohesive community is ‘connection-centric design’. Erik identifies 2 types of connection-centric design: Overt and Covert. Overt design is represented in the physical features that create intentional engagement with your neighbors such as the common house, dining room, commercial kitchen, and guest and reception spaces. These are spaces which feature planned events such as community meals and meetings. Overt design facilitates intentional bonding.
Covert design elements, by contrast, are those design features that result in incidental bonding among community members. They don’t require community planning or intention to be effective. They work continuously, affect everyone, go unnoticed and don’t create undue annoyance.
What are these “Covert” design elements?
Erik left us with the sense of how beautifully our community is designed – both for planned events and unplanned, magical connections. Thank you Erik!