Monday, September 30, 2013

How Will We Top This Next Year?

Our fourth anniversary party was a huge success!  We had more than 35 people turn out for the house concert by new Zealand singer/songwriter Anna Van Riel.

What a wonderful treat that was.  Anna has a voice more beautiful than Joan Baez, accompanied by a Kiwi sense of humour and an amazing ability to sing in just about genre and any accent.

And she did this all while her two-year-old daughter, Matilda, was determined to steal the show, along with all our other singing, dancing toddlers at Pacific Gardens!

Then came the potluck, attended by more than 50 - or maybe it was 60.  I lost count.  I do know we almost ran out of plates and cutlery, which is saying something.

And what a feast.  We crowned it off with Myriam's beautiful, scrumptious cake, plus loads of yummy desserts, with everything from fresh raspberries and whipped cream to apple crumble.

We had speeches from founders, residents, and friends, including Chuck Durrett, the architect who brought cohousing to North America from Denmark, and who's working on cohousing projects in Vancouver and on the island.

I have only one worry, though - how will we top this for our fifth anniversary next year?


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our Kids All Play for Canada at Pacific Gardens

I'm sure you've seen the recent ads on TV sponsored by Canadian Tire about how important it is for kids to play.

They feature shots of kids in darkened rooms, eyes glued to their mobile phones or tablets, lying inert on a couch or in bed.

Apparently that's the life of a great number of children in Canada - but certainly not here at Pacific Gardens.

Yes, the kids do watch television - but usually in the company of others, both adults and children.

They play games, but they're the old-fashioned kind - scrabble, monopoly, cards - plus the new ones like Catan and Magic the Gathering.

Or else they're jumping up and down on the communal pogo-stick on our outdoor patio, swinging on the swings, and teetering on the teeter-totter.

When they're not doing that they're helping in the garden or taking out the compost or playing hide-and-seek both inside and outside the building.

It's an old-fashioned kind of childhood, with a constantly changing supply of playmates as children arrive, leave, go to school and come back from school.

It does mean that some of the places in our building are not the tidiest or the quietest or the cleanest.

Toys litter the atrium, the kids' room goes through cycles of neatness and chaos, and the patio outside the dining-room is littered with tiny bicycles and tricycles.

But I'd rather hear the shouts of children playing and trip over lego in the hallways than see kids lying on the couch texting instead of talking.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pacific Gardeners Like to Partay!

Wow! September has come and it's as if the folks at Pacific Gardens have woken from a long summertime slumber. There are so many events, work bees and what our irrepressible Roz calls "partays" that I can hardly keep track of them all.

We've already had one work bee last Saturday, where PGCCers tackled dust and dirt and weeds and windows with a vengeance, and were rewarded with a delicious lunch prepared by one of our newest residents, Carla.

Tomorrow night we're having an outdoor barbecue potluck - most likely the last of the season, alas - followed by an all-ages games night with Scrabble, Encore, and the big favourites, Catan and Magic the Gathering.

Saturday John and I will be at the Harvest Festival. Pacific Gardens will be joining other community groups promoting local food, permaculture, organic gardening, and sustainability.

There'll be great food and music, loads of displays, a petting zoo for the kids, a farmer's market, and hundreds of people attending the festival, which is held on Wesley Street in Nanaimo's Old City Quarter.

The biggest event of the month is our fourth anniversary party on Sept. 21st, with a concert by New Zealand folk singer Anna Van Riel, a special anniversary cake by our Myriam, and a visit by cohousing guru Chuck Durrett.

The following Monday night we're having a Mexican-themed potluck party to welcome our students.  Raul, one of our Mexican students, will play the piano and sing, and we'll definitely have salsa, if not tequila!

But we're not done yet.  On Sept. 25th, Chad and Susana will give a presentation on their tour this spring of cohousing communities on the west coast, and Bill and Sharon will do one on their visit to Prairie Sky, a Calgary cohousing community.

Finally, on Saturday, Sept. 28th, we'll have another work bee, this one starting with a hearty potluck breakfast to give us fuel for all those indoor and outdoor chores.

You never have to worry about having a social life when you're living at Pacific Gardens!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Musical Kettles at Pacific Gardens

People at Pacific Gardens like to share, it is true.  And that's a good thing.  But sometimes it can get very confusing.

Take for example, our musical tea kettles.  No, I don't mean that they sing, or anything like that.

It's just that they have been moving around like people in a game of musical chairs.

It all started when Roz moved out of Mia's place to an upstairs apartment (we also have games of musical tenants).

She'd been using Mia's tea kettle when she lived downstairs, but now that she was in a new place, she didn't have one.

No worries, I said.  We have two tea kettles in our dining hall's kitchen; one big one and one small one. Roz could take the small one.

I can't do that, said Roz, horrified.  People use those tea kettles all the time - how could she deprive community members of their use of even one tea kettle!

So Mia let Roz use her tea kettle until she could buy her a new one - actually, a used one from a thrift store, as is Mia's wont.

But that meant Mia wouldn't have a tea kettle of her own to make those all-important cuppas.

So I lent her my stylish stainless steel tea kettle.  But that meant I didn't have one.

In an act of wanton self-interest, I went into the kitchen and took the little tea kettle for myself, community members be damned!

And that's where the game of musical tea kettles now sits.  Roz has Mia's; Mia has mine; and I have the one belonging to the community.

It should get sorted out soon.