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Waterloo Region Cohousing/Ecovillage

This newsletter is to provide updates for the Waterloo Region Cohousing Project.
We are in the preliminary stages of planning and welcome those who wish to build a sustainable cohousing community in Waterloo Region.
If you have any questions, please email
The Photo above is of Conover Commons, Washington


It was a pleasure meeting those who attended on Sunday April 3rd, 2016 for our third cohousing meeting. We enjoyed learning more about each other and the visioning exercise.

In this newsletter you will find:
  • Meeting minutes
  • Committee Information
  • April 30, 2016- The first annual National Cohousing Day
  • Save the dates for future meeting
  • Recommended Reading
  • Cohousing event - Planning Meeting hosted by SILC
 Meeting Minutes:
Date: April 3 2016
Time:  2pm – 4pm
Location:  KPL Central Library, Queen Stree,t Kitchener
Welcome to the 3rd meeting of the Waterloo Region Cohousing/EcoVillage Group
 Just like the last meeting, this should be a very participatory meeting, we want to hear from everyone
This is our group, these will be your neighbors, your friends, your extended family, we’re creating community
We want to hear from you, speak your mind, your truth, your feelings and again remember our groups guiding principals
  • Be present – mentally, physically and emotionally
  • Pay attention – listen to what other’s say focus on understanding the ideas
  • Speak your truth – share your thoughts and opinions openly and honestly, your opinion is valid as any one else’s
  • Be open to outcomes – try not to prejudge what is happening, you may limit your ability to perceive other insights and ideas
  • Create a safe environment – be aware and sensitive to the impact of what you say and do.  Create a level of safety for others to allow them to feel comfortable.  Point out any issues or concerns that may affect this safe environment.
Check-In- Everyone went around the room and shared why they are interested in cohousing or an update since the last meeting.
Get To Know Each Other Activities                                                   
What we’ve been doing so far…                                                        
  • We are continuing to spread the word and create partnerships
  • We have sent in the application to become a member of the Canadian Cohousing Network
  • We have 180+ people on our mailing list with all levels of interest
  • We’ve engaged Livewell Cohousing Group (Gary Morrison) who will be our guide for the process.  This non-profit groups helps facilitate cohousing groups come to fruition from ideas.
    • Right now he’s working pro bono for the initial stages
    • Next steps will be a workshop and securing land.  That’s when this will become a business relationship involving money
  • A smaller core group is meeting to help guide the larger interested group.
  • Dorota is the lead for the land search team and would like at least a couple other people to help with this (we’ll talk more about the teams in a moment)
    • If you see land or know of a commercial relator, please send the information to Dorota who is coordinating this team
    • Right now the idea is to gather the intelligence and have at least 3 pieces of land for us to look at, walk on together, and imagine the possibilities.  Then do the cost journey, analysis, feasibility together with Gary’s guidance.

How to Create Community – Road Map
  • Vision and Vision Statement which will guide our mission or purpose statement
  • Mission or Purpose Statement that will help guide our decision making
  • Decision making process and structure (sociocracy – a consensus based system for decision making in a system of self governance) learning how it works and while we’re doing that we need
  • Create a Legal Structure so that people can understand what their getting into and a
  • Membership Structure and process along with a
  • Financial Structure so as to as to be able to
  • Purchase land and throughout this process we will have
  • Have workshops to educate ourselves on decision making and working together as well as Designing and then Building together
  • All the while we need to keep creating and documenting as we go (our minutes, or guidelines, our bylaws/governance, our membership agreements etc…) and know that
  • People will come and go throughout this process so all the while we need to keep recruiting
  • Questions, thoughts, errors, omissions?  This overarching guideline or road map for creating community is in Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian.
So lets take the first step in our Journey together…
  • We worked on a Vision and Vision Statement
  • Alan provided a quick overview on consensus and sociocracy 
  • At a future meeting we will have in-depth workshops on this from a Sociocracy Facilitator
Sociocracy Overview  
To help get us started, below are samples of vision statements from other cohousing communities:

CoHo a cohousing group from Oregon Our vision is a cohousing community that is designed to encourage interactions between people and enrich our lives with the pleasure of cooperation and friendship. We care about the earth and are committed to environmentally sustainable practices and building techniques. Our multigenerational community welcomes diversity and values the input of each person.

Vision of Windsong Cohousing, Langley, BC Our vision is to create and sustain a multigenerational community where neighbours know, trust and care for each other. We do this by respecting the uniqueness of each individual, and by taking responsibility for our selves, our community and our environment. We celebrate our connections with each other and the richness of our diversity.

Groundswell Cohousing – Chilliwack, BC Groundswell is a multi-generational confluence of individuals and families who choose to live in community for more socially and environmentally sustainable lives.
We broke out into groups to work on visioning. Listed below are draft visioning statements created:
  Sample Vision Statement that were created during the meeting: Notes:
a An inclusive community choosing to live cooperatively and committed to sustainability, stewardship, sharing and simplicity Caring, sharing, environmental stewardship, community, multi-generational, diversity, sustainability, social, justice, simplicity, interdependence, inclusive, creative
b Our vision is to create a sustainable community that is inclusive, inter-generational, and caring, and that involves shared responsibility and celebration.  
C We are a community that vales independence + connection internally and externally, founded upon honesty, respect, diversity, caring, sharing, of resource and responsibility.
The design of the community reflects our values, and desire to live sustainablity, affordability, simply and at peace.
Honestly, respect, collaboration, diversity, inclusion, sustainability, peace, multi-generational, stewardship, consensus, affordability, simplicity
Connection + independence in community that is supportive, design reflects values, shared resources+ skills, affordable living, learning from others, connection to larger community, sharing of responsibilities, valuing what each person bring to the table.
D A model community that accommodates socio-economic, generational, cultural diversity and provides the highest quality of life and collective living: environmentally, economically, socially and culturally in the region. -Diversity: including social, building, age, race, accessibility
-Community: Multi-generational, belonging, takes responsibility and shares resources
-Collectively a higher quality of life
Oversized common areas
Economically viable
Mature greenspace
Choice of cohousing would not create financial burden over individual house
E A diverse, multi-generational community of individuals and families, striving for a net-positive impact on their lives, the natural environment and KW greater community -Cooperation/sharing resources,
-interconnection (ex. Sustainable building design and community),
-sociability (potlucks, celebrations, socializing on site)
-multi-generational + Diverse (intentional efforts)
- sustainable/ecofriendly
-net-positive construction (generating more energy than we need)
-enriching place to live
-community (support+care)
-sustainable building design (passive solar design, solar panels, farm with a farmer, apiary)
-ability to have independence/privacy (ability of choice)
- it takes a village. Ability to show the kids and the next generational option of how to live
- shared commitment and responsibility
Community Teams Sign-Ups
The committees are:
  • Membership – creating membership structure for us.  What membership means, what financial commitment we need at this stage and on an ongoing basis and membership recruitment, etc…
  • Finance – this group will look at our financial need at various stages of development
  • Land Search – self explanatory
  • Legal – this group will be learning the possibilities of a legal framework and structure for our community and what’s needed to create and maintain it.
  • Technology – we need to be able to keep in touch, share notes, share decisions, work together on projects, keep track of meeting minutes etc… the technology team will be working on the best ways for our community to do this
  • Decision Making – this group will learn more about sociocracy and create guidelines specific to our community.  The group will also help facilitate an expert to teach a workshop to our group.
  • Social – this group deals with the social component of our community.  They are to create group activities for the meetings as well as functions and events for us to interact and get to know each other better.
  • Sustainability-  this group will look at ways for us to be sustainable in our buildings, our designs as well as food, energy, water, etc. (There was no sign up sheet for this one, so if you are interested please let us know via email)
  • Steering – this group overseas the agendas the meetings and helps keep our community moving forward
  • Ad Hoc – there will be ad hoc committees as needed, nothing you need to sign-up for now, just an fyi… that these will come and go as needed 
Now it’s time to work together in smaller focused groups to keep moving us forward
  • If you would like to join any of these groups, please email and include which committee you would like to join, name, email and telephone number. You will be added to a google group discussion and your information will be shared with other committee members

  • Your team will “meet” (however that looks) at least once before our next meeting and will report back to the larger group at the next meeting
  • As a team, you’ll need to decide how that meeting looks and is set up
  • As we proceed these teams will have their own meetings through emails, or gatherings or whatever the team decides to help work through the initial proposal that will be brought to the larger group for discussion, clarification, questions and eventually decision.
  • Community Teams may change and evolve based on stage of development and community needs. 
  • New community teams may be created as needed.  So if you have any thoughts, let the steering team know.
  • During different phases of development, different teams will be busier than others.
  • For the next meeting, each team will give a 2 minute overview of what they are working on and then 5 minutes for discussions, clarifications, questions, etc…
Committee Information:

Committee members will be sent a separate email with information about the committee role, member names and contact information.

If you missed the meeting and would like to join a committee, please email and include which committee you would like to join, your name, email and telephone number. 
April 30, 2016- The first annual National Cohousing Day
  • Cohousing communities are welcoming the public for tours and visits on this day to celebrate the joy of living in intentional, collaborative neighborhoods.
  • Wendy purchased two videos which called Within Reach + A New We
    • Within Reach is a couples journey to finding a sustainable community to live
    • A New We highlights 10 European communities and the creative solutions to many social, environment and economic challenges that exemplify the nearly infinite capacity for human community and self development
  • We could consider having a meet-up, potluck and let people know about us, as well as have the showing(s).
  • If people are interested in helping organize this event, please let us know by emailing . Thanks!
Save the dates:
  • Sunday, May 1st from 2-4pm.
    Kitchener Public Library- Central- Meeting Room D+E
The following meetings will move to the Grand River Unitarian Congregation - meeting room in the basement. 299 Sydney St S, Kitchener, ON N2G 3V8. Thank you to Michelle C for arranging this space!
  • Sunday, May 29th from 2-4pm at the Grand River Unitarian Congregation
  • Sunday, June 26th from 2-4pm at the Grand River Unitarian Congregation 
  • Sunday, July 24th from 2-4pm at the Grand River Unitarian Congregation
  • Sunday, August 21st from 2-4pm at the Grand River Unitarian Congregation
Recommended Reading:

Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities
by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett 

Creating a Life Together
By Diana Leafe Christian

Ecovillage at Ithaca
by Liz Walker 
Cohousing Event Planning Meeting
Hosted by Sustainable Intentional Living Community (SILC in Guelph)
The planning meeting is being hosted in Guelph by David MacAuley on Monday, April 11 at 7pm.  The intention is to create a big event and bring in big speakers to discuss cohousing, learn about decision making, hear about successes and pitfalls to building communities.
If you are interested in participating in organizing this event, please contact David at: 
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Waterloo Region Cohousing Project · 302 Westforest · Kitchener, On N2N3J1 · Canada

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