“A profound feeling of joy came over me as we came together to break ground and celebrate.” - Anne G
Anne and other members reflect upon Breaking Ground, the long-awaited milestone we celebrated with ceremony on November 19, 2021. All but 4 member households were represented with at least one family member at the ceremony.
Not surprising at a ground-breaking ceremony, many members’ most vivid recollection of the day was the presence of the backhoe. Apparently, the fascination with earth-moving equipment never grows old and is NOT limited to little boys!
"New beginnings-from the ground up." - Evelyn
"About 30 minutes before start time, a semi with a flat-bed trailer with a backhoe on it came down G Street. He unloaded it--I thought it was just part of the ongoing work. Then the backhoe was positioned behind the stage---a perfect photo op!! It was not until the celebration was over and the backhoe was reloaded on the flat-bed trailer that I realized it had all been planned by Harrison Construction. What a great way to acknowledge the Ground Breaking of Washington Commons.” - Jae
“The machine operator from Harrison Construction drove the backhoe onto the lot and executed a few playful spins of the digging bucket before plunging the bucket into the earth to remove a scoop of dirt, symbolizing (or quite literally) breaking ground. The machine operator and the machine itself seemed as happy and excited as all of us gathered here on this momentous, long-awaited occasion.” - Carol S.
Members gather before the event, is that fog or rain threatening? Shovels are ready, excitement is palpable. The fog lifts and blue skies emerge. Racheli and Zvi were in Tel Aviv on the big day, but Rachel’s son showed up and shared the ceremony with them via WhatsApp.
“Yes…my darling son was there and showed me the ceremony via WhatsApp. It was exciting…” — Rachel
“With many thanks. The groundbreaking was one of the most exciting events ever in my book!” – Carol S.
“I remember arriving at the event kind of keyed up because it was threatening rain, and also, because the event had been planned before we knew it was ‘real’. Once I saw the porta-potties, I was convinced it was actually happening, and I felt quite relieved. The weather was fine, too.” - Fran
Member Scott Walker, always nimble on his feet, MC’d the ceremony with aplomb. For those present the Land Acknowledgment was a significant event. Sandra Lee who helped plan the groundbreaking explains:
“The Land Acknowledgment was given to us by Charlie Toledo, a Native American woman, who stipulated: 1). That it be read by a Native American 2). That the Native American who presented it give her/his background/credentials as a Native American. Charlie communicated with Lisa before the ceremony, instructing her to put the feather 🪶 on the ground and have a ‘lit candle’ present. These may seem like minor points but profoundly significant to Lisa and Charlie.”
“Without Lisa, we would not have had a Land Acknowledgment for our groundbreaking ceremony.” - Sandra Lee
“It was a magical day from reading the land acknowledgment, to climbing on a tractor, and celebrating in person with fellow members.” - Lisa
“The connection and joy were palpable on this great day! Two things that stood out among many touching moments was the wonderful First People’s Grounding and Recognition Ceremony, and Katie and Anne’s talks.” - Chris H
“When Mayor Pro Tem Ledesma gave his speech warmly welcoming our cohousing community into the heart of the greater community of West Sacramento, I felt such a sense of pride and inclusion as well as a sense of commitment to the surrounding community we would soon call home. I feel certain that we will indeed fit in and be an active and sustaining force in the community at large.” - Carol S
Bouquet from community to Anne symbolizing our profound gratitude for her vision, devotion, and dedication to creating Washington Commons.
The backhoe is a very fitting backdrop for these 2 women, each a force of nature in her own right. Anne Geraghty, the prime mover for the creation of Washington Commons on the left, introduced by Katie McCamant, the prime mover for CoHousing in the US. After acknowledging a long list of visionaries and supporters, Anne and the rest of the membership grabbed their shovels and received a hard-hat courtesy of Danny Milman of UD+P. So equipped, we assembled for the actual breaking of ground!
“We are planting our building on fertile ground that was a pleasure to dig in. While I regret we can't move all that beautiful dirt to someplace where we could grow some food, I find it fitting that our community will be rooted in a blessed place. I look forward to growing with my new neighbors.” - Becki
"The ground breaking was rewarding and very hopeful for us. It was great to see so many members in person." - Janet and Stu W
“The ground breaking ceremony was a great opportunity to see everyone in three dimensions and the green grass on the site was very cheerful. Literally a green field project.” - Tom
“It was a magical day from reading the land acknowledgment, to climbing on a tractor, and celebrating in person with fellow members. “I wanted to slow time down to savor every moment since we worked so hard to get there, and I knew this would be the one and only groundbreaking experience I’d have in my lifetime.” - Lisa
Lisa and Scott share a moment while Scott readies the champagne.
"There was really great energy at the event, and I am glad Anne got to spray some champagne!" - Scott
After many photo ops and much digging with shovels, a different celebration was in order. Following the spraying of champagne, groundbreakers went next door to our favorite eatery, The Treehouse Café, and feasted on the abundance they had set out for our event.
“As to the groundbreaking, it was a long time coming, but we made it. It was amazing to see what a determined and committed community can do. And we really ARE now a community. It was such a happy and thrilling event. I'm looking forward to January when the ground will start to move!" - Polly C
What a day we had! We were excited -- to see each other in person -- after all of these pandemic months and years. Members came from as far away as New Hampshire, Arizona, and the Bay Area. We were together celebrating this special day.
Scott did a fabulous job kicking off the ground breaking as the group's announcer for the day. We're lucky to have a natural, dynamic speaker in our community.
Our celebration began with a Welcome - Daa-nu’-yash -- from Lisa Walker, Washington Commons member and descendent of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon. She directed our attention to our feet, had us become in touch with the land, and imagine all the indigenous peoples that have stood here before us. She acknowledged that we gathered on the ancestral and unceded land of the Patwin, Maidu and Wintu Peoples past and present. She read a Land Acknowledgement created by Charlie Toledo, Founder and Director of the Suscol Intertribal Council of the Napa Valley. This acknowledgement sets the foundation for our community in the larger context of this place reflecting on how we came to be here and inspires us to live in solidarity, equity and justice with the Patwin, Maidu and Wintu Peoples.
“With open hearts, respect and gratitude to the all the ancestors, indigenous land stewards, and all those who are helping us to build our new village upon this land, shu’ nuu-xwanin-la, in the language of the Siletz Tribe – We Thank You.” Chris Ledesma, Mayor Pro Tem, spoke about what we are creating and how it embodies the City's vision for housing variety that meets the diverse needs of the community. He pledged the City's commitment to continue its work to create a vital urban center in what he called the "soul of West Sacramento"... the Washington District. We are thrilled to be a part of the dynamic community that is West Sacramento.
Our mentor and consultant, Katie McCamant, spoke eloquently about our journey to create this first cohousing community in West Sacramento and about the vision of our founder Anne Geraghty. Anne noted “We’ve had many setbacks and delays over the years but each one has strengthened our resolve and our confidence in succeeding."
AND WE BROKE GROUND!! On November 19th we had commitments for 27 units - the magical 3/4 reservation that we have been shooting for in order to get our construction loan from Five Star Bank. On Friday our latest member joined with her down payment check in hand, becoming the 28th. Welcome JoAnn Levy. We are over the top! A friend remarked on the palpable feelings of joy, love and caring of all the people that were there - both those who are the members as well as the many supporters. It was a special day.
We couldn't have done it without our professional team. We give thanks for our amazing development team that brought us to this day: