The First Senior Co-Housing Community in Port Townsend, WA
We brought Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, the Program Director of Sociocracy for Alland a long-time resident of Pioneer Valley CoHousing Community in Amherst, MA, to Port Townsend to present a workshop on Sociocracy. He travels the world sharing this information with others. His dynamic and inclusive style helped keep us focused and engaged.
Governance: Establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of the governing body of an organization.
How did we get this far and how will we proceed? In the early days of organizing ourselves into a group ready to find a better way of growing older together, we began loosely using a system of governance suggested by our design architect, Chuck Durrett and his wife, development consultant, Katie McCamant that was based on consensus. Pat, one of our founding members, had already been introduced to a system called Sociocracy (aka Dynamic Governance), and began to search for additional information and education on this method that espouses effective group meetings, good decision-making, consideration of every voice (even the quiet ones!), efficiency, feedback and a continual moving forward. How does it work? Sociocracy is a governance method that makes collaboration, self-organization, and distributed authority practical and effective. It encourages participation and uses a pragmatic rule for decisions: don’t seek perfection, or consensus, which may be unobtainable. Instead ‘consent’ on a policy ‘good enough for now, and safe enough to try'. The system has taken us through many tough decisions in a relatively short time, most often resolved in one meeting. We were able to build our 28-household, senior co-housing development in just three years from start to finish. Sociocracy supports small teams with clear guidelines to get the work done, rather than a 'top-down' structure so common in large organizations. They are empowered to act on their own and know to ask the larger group for feedback if they are in doubt. The organization as a whole sets the vision for the group and smaller teams carry out that vision in their everyday work. Now that the ‘development’ part of our project is completed to our general satisfaction, we are going about everyday living in an intentional community of seniors.
Our members share thoughts about in the workshop:
“The presentation skills and proven experience of Koch-Gonzales will help to solidify our aim to be one of the top cohousing communities in the country. He answered numerous questions and provided good, reasonable paths for us to follow. I believe we will now streamline our decision-making process and eliminate many time-consuming procedures in order to provide more time for us to continue to be a fair and trusting community of those with a common purpose and aims”…Jim PThe workshop was an excellent kick start to move from Townsend Meadows (our development company) to Quimper Village ownership. It liberated us to be able to take tips from Jerry and learn how to do business another way…SherryI found Jerry to be very helpful. He clarified for me how it’s all supposed to work, plain and simple…SkipI feel relief! Our organizational process of getting the project built has often felt cumbersome. Jerry turned it upside down providing us with a more efficient way. I’m enthusiastic to use what we’ve learned. It will make decisions easier by spreading things out more. Jerry is a phenomenal facilitator, putting the process in motion for us to see other ways of doing things. In effect, he gave us ‘permission’ to have the small decisions taken care of in a better format. It sparked my imagination of how we can move forward in a more effective way…Janet
Please join us for
the FIRST Quimper Village Open House
Sunday, April 29th, 2018
Visit Quimper Village as we participate in National Cohousing Open House Day. Hours are from 11-4 and light refreshments will be provided. Parking is limited so please consider car-pooling with friends.
Diners delight in Valentine dinner. The tables were decorated with candy hearts and candles.
In 1983, John moved from Seattle to Port Townsend and never looked back. He says the last 35 years have been the happiest of his life, and it keeps on getting better. Soon after he moved to PT, he and Pam married. She might have something to do with his happiness… Together they owned Aldrich’s Market and lived above it. John got very involved in the Economic Development Council, Mainstreet, Jefferson County Land Trust, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, local charities, businesses, civic activities and local politics. He was appointed to the City Council and then elected Mayor of Port Townsend. When he retired, he was trained as a mediator and worked in the three surrounding counties as a mediator as well as a Small Business Administration advisor. Acting drew his interest, and he played a few roles at the Key City Theatre in Port Townsend as well as in small theaters in Seattle. In 2015, the concept of developing a co-housing community in PT came up, and he and Pam became part of the core group that founded Quimper Village. Thanks, John and Pam!
That is now, but how did he get here, and from where? From a very unlikely beginning, you’ll be surprised to hear.
John grew up in a well-established family whose Seattle roots date back to the 1800’s. His mother was involved in the Arts, befriending and supporting many Northwest artists and poets. But it was his father who was the dominant influence in his life. He was a member of the far right John Birch Society, the NRA, and a strong supporter of Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch-hunt. He wanted John, his only son, to follow in his footsteps and be involved in his right wing politics. (He has 3 sisters.) His overbearing father was relentless in his indoctrination of John’s political views. While he never felt comfortable being dominated by his father, John bought into the basic tenants of conservatism. He attended Georgetown Graduate School in Government and hoped to work for the State Department. During his application interview with the State Department, believing that the Department was politically very liberal, he attempted to win over his interviewer by spouting “fake” liberal political views. That didn’t last long, and he launched into his true conservative views, arguing politics with the State Department interviewer. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. While he was in college, John met his first wife. Together they had four children. They divorced before he moved back to Seattle.
After college and a stint in the Army as a Mandarin Chinese interpreter, John became a lecturer about the dangers of SE Asia being taken over by Communists. He got involved in Republican politics, however he found that Seattle Republicans, led at that time by Dan Evans, were too “liberal” for his taste. He ran for a couple of offices as a Republican, but didn’t win. His interest in politics waned, and he entered the Real Estate business, with his office in the Pike Place Market. He worked with architect Victor Steinbruck to get an initiative passed making the Market an “historical district.” It passed and he soon became the Executive Director of the Market PDA, overseeing its $40 million redevelopment and transformation.
Through his involvement with the Pike Place Market, he met a woman named Michele whom he married. She introduced him to a whole new world of people – Liberals! Michele introduced him to her friends in the Arts world, and during his political conversations with them, he began to question his long-held conservative views. He later attended retreats at the Chinook Learning Center on Whidbey Island and became very involved with them, including trips to the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland and the Hebrides. He felt like he was born again, with everything he was learning making a great deal of sense to him. His transformation to becoming a hardcore Liberal was underway. After 10 years, John’s first wife relinquished custody of their four children to John, and he and Michele divorced, but his liberal views continued to gain strength. Then Port Townsend beckoned him, where he met Pam.
Now we’re back to the beginning, and now you can see how John got from there to here. ---Araya
Felt is a textile material that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Felt can be made of natural fibers such as wool or animal fur, or from synthetic fibers such as petroleum-based acrylic or acrylonitrile or wood pulp-based rayon.
PamC offered a class in the process for interested members. Hot, soapy water is needed to make the fibers adhere.
PamD, Cherie, SueC and Irene joined in with varied success.
Practice makes perfect!
Water, Water, Everywhere!
It rarely rains in Port Townsend, but it does drip a lot during the winter. And all those drips add up. And up. And up.
Quimper Village (QV) is located in a low valley meadow between two hills. To avoid the fierce tides and rips of what we now call Admiralty Inlet, natives used the gently-sloped valley as a portage path. When QV added our roofs and other impermeable areas to the valley floor, we had to install an elaborate – and expensive! – stormwater runoff control and storage system to cope with all the drips: swales to guide runoff, with drains to collect and convey it to rain gardens, collectors and a “big box of rocks” for underground storage. Any overflow would finally go into the city stormwater system, but we and the City want that to be a rare event.
This is our first winter, and the drip-drip-drip is testing the system. It appears to work on the large scale, but local fine-tuning is required. Some yard drains have been lowered a few inches; some gutter runoff needs local control; some ‘rain gardens’ look more like small lakes – ducks have landed on one – and others are dry.
As slightly dryer weather arrives, machines and shovels will make some adjustments here and there, and more landscaping -- grass, rain garden plants, bushes and some trees -- will help. But a little mud in our valley hasn’t mired our spirits. Life in the Village is good. ----- Jack
I’m the Trash Temple Meister
My domain, along with my partner-in-trash, Betty, is to keep the Trash and Recycle Temple clean and to make sure people are putting the right things in the right trash bins. Betty has let me take the lead on this, so I consider myself the Trash Meister. As I put out an email message to all the members of Quimper Village telling the trash pick up schedule, I feel this sense of power well up within me. I send off a second email this time with a colored chart showing which trash goes where. It’s beautiful. Then I go out and check the bins.
Crinkly plastic in the mixed recycle bin!! Someone is defying my authority. This calls for action. I fish the offending plastic items from the bin and make a rather artistic display on the common house counter with a sign, “NOT IN MIXED RECYCLE.” This should shame the scofflaws.
Three days later I go out and check the bins. DAMN! Someone has mixed a crinkly cup in with the proper plastics. I fish it out, and stand contemplating it. I could test my authority by asking for backup, more team members to establish a surveillance squad. Or a surveillance camera to catch the Perp red-handed. But that would require confronting the offender. That could become testy, and I have no means of controlling a violent offender.
All this power, and yet I feel confounded, helpless in the face of a few offenders. And I’m reluctant to resort to the nuclear option. ---JimD
(In addition to this current position, JimD is a retired parole officer...Editor)
Quimper Village Garage Sale Friday, March 23 – Saturday, March 24
8 - Noon
Our downsizing is your gain!
Come find your treasure at our 28-household, first ever Garage Sale.
See a wide variety of items for sale and meet some Quimper Villagers.
Two days only, March 23 – 24, 8–noon, each day.