By Todd Kettner on March 25, 2014


Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do for work, fun? Are you a long-established Nelsonite, or have you drifted here like many of us?

I was born in New York but moved here when I was five, when my parents fled the draft, and I grew up in the Nelson area. I left when I graduated high school and headed to Vancouver where I lived for 20 years, and eventually came back 7 years ago. I am blessed with a profession that is both work and fun. I work in the Performing Arts – music and theatre mostly and I teach both as well. Right now, I am teaching at a summer camp for kids.

When, and how did you first become interested in the Nelson Co-housing project?

I become involved very early in the group formation – almost four years ago. I think it was the second gathering of friends. I ran into Matt Lowe and we chatted about buying land together, growing food and having community. It was my dad that got me interested in co-housing. He was already familiar with the model when initial discussions started happening. But there were a range of visions within the group at that stage. It took patience for me to stick with it as the group and the vision evolved.

When was the moment / event where you thought ‘Yup, this is for me!’

I think it was around the fall of 2011, when we organized for Chuck Durrett (the author & architect we worked with through the formative stages of developing the architecture) to do a presentation on co-housing here in Nelson. I recall this as a real turning point. This was when the group really embraced the co-housing model. The entire group was really excited by Chuck’s presentation. That’s when I knew we were on the right track.

How are you participating / contributing to the creation of the Nelson Co-housing project right now?

I’m on two committees – Process and Coordinating. The former primarily develops policy (which isn’t as hard as it might be because other communities have been very generous about sharing what they’ve developed). The latter is the meeting point of all the committee Sherpas. (Sherpa is our term for cmtee chair – so “we don’t drop anything along the way.”). The Coordinating Cmtee keeps all aspects of the project in focus and aligned according to our “critical path” as illustrated on a master project chart. I also serve as the Critical Path Assistant to keep that chart updated as the project develops. As well, I facilitate meetings as needed, sometimes opening with a song or some other spice!

What makes you the most excited about moving in down the road?

I feel like we’ve dreamed up some foundational aspects we know we’re all going to do – have dinners, eat together, grow food, have opportunities to hang out with people of different ages. But what excites me the most are the things we don’t even know are going to happen – the potential for creative, meaningful, collective effort.

What makes you the most nervous about moving in down the road?

That would be the same answer as for the last question – the unanticipated unknowns! We’re doing our best to learn from the successes & mistakes of other communities, about the aspects they’ve found most challenging and how to best negotiate those ourselves. We on the Process Cmtee are working with a schedule of policy development to have a good portion of our policy tools in place when we move in. And we’re on track in that regard, but I also know there’s no way to anticipate everything! So I suppose it really just comes down to good ol’ fear of the unknown.

What have you learned about yourself during this process so far?

How much I have to learn about really good facilitation skills.

Describe a satisfying scene on the land 5 years from now.

We’ve just pressed all the apples into cider … we’ve got a little band organized and we’re having a big family square dance after a satisfying meal. The sun is low, the light is golden and the teenagers are off being naughty (but within reason). And over a glass of last year’s fermented cider someone agrees that “yes, they want to help me mosaic the front of the terrace!!”

Interviewed by Dave Lovekin