Sunday Jane’s Walk: Planting and Growing Community in the Heart of Regina

This Sunday might be the busiest community outreach day to date for Prairie Spruce community members. You’ll have 4 opportunities to interact with community members this weekend:

  • Dave, Faye and Jean will be doing a presentation at the Regina Unitarian Fellowship @ 10:30am
  • Dave & Lois will be at the 50+ Celebrate Showcase & Tradeshow.
  • Myself (Ruth) and André will be leading a Jane’s Walk

And of course, we’ll have some folks at the Information Centre in case anyone drops in too.

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But this blog post is about our Jane’s walk in Canterbury Park…

Prairie Spruce Commons will settle into a place recently re-imagined and re-developed.

The location (land) on which Prairie Spruce Commons will be built has been home to many people and communities before us.  All on Treaty Four Territory.

Now an emerging medley of retails and residential, this neighbourhood of just under 8 acres was once the Property of the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle, and for a while hosted a large community garden project of Grow Regina.

This is a neighbourhood in the heart of the city where it will be possible to rely on bicycles, car-share and pedestrian modes including strollers, walkers and wheelchairs too.

The newly built retail and residential developments are integrated into the history of this place. The Bishop’s Court, St. Chad’s College, Anson House (the official residence of the secretary of the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle), St. Cuthbert’s House, and Harding House are each designed in the Collegiate Gothic style.

The entire site and its five original buildings are Provincial Heritage Property and have received Heritage Awards in the Exterior Renovation category. 

The land on which Prairie Spruce Commons will be built, it seems, has never before had built structures on it but from 1994 to 1998 was part of an extensive Community Gardens project of Grow Regina. 

Prairie Spruce Commons now has a compelling opportunity to plant and grow community in the heart of the city.

Come and join André and me for a Jane’s Walk of our neighbourhood on Sunday, May 3rd from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.  We will meet at the PSC Information Centre (it’s the little building with flags on it).

Ruth

  

May 3 Presentation at Regina Unitarian Fellowship

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Prairie Spruce Commons is looking forward to presenting at The Unitarian Fellowship this Sunday May 3 at their 10:30 am Sunday morning service. In preparation for the presentation, I looked over their statement of principles and listened to a podcast of a recent service where a Unitarian minister addressed those principles. I am excited by the similarities of their principles to ours:

“The Regina Unitarian Fellowship affirms and promotes the following principles: the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

A few words stood out for me from my research. Unitarians have a vision of a better world. Connection, belonging and relationships are important to them. They recognize hospitality and care, not stones and glass, to be what their community is built of.

The principles of Prairie Spruce Commons are: “being respectful, caring and sharing”. We carry these out in how we make decisions and how we do relate and will relate to one another on an everyday basis. Unitarians value working through difficulties with respect and compassion. They affirm the use of the democratic process. We use our consensus decision-making process to listen to everyone’s voice and to generate decisions that everyone can support.

Sustainable living is important to both Unitarians and Prairie Spruce. They value awareness and actions that support the interconnected web of existence. Our building design incorporates many sustainable features, both in the building itself and in how we plan to live in our home, such as reduced ongoing use of resources and use of the communal garden.

The way the Unitarians spoke so lovingly of their symbol, the chalice, really warmed my heart. It was described as a living flickering flame cupped in a beautiful container. It was likened to the spark of life within all beings which need oxygen and care to be renewed. This chalice can be a beacon of hope.

Our symbol is the prairie spruce tree. The spruce tree is also a living being, needing the natural elements and nurturing to flourish. Given these, the spruce tree can provide that green hopeful presence in the wintry times of our lives and a cool refuge when things heat up. We are lovingly surrounding our spruce tree with the container of our nurturing community. Our beautiful built-to-last building is merely the visible expression of our values. We are each, the Unitarian Fellowship and Prairie Spruce, building a sustainable and respectful community which values each individual at the same time as espousing values that are based on the collective good.

Thank you to the Unitarian Fellowship of Regina for inviting us to talk at your service next Sunday. It is fitting that these two communities who share visions and values are opening up a dialogue. I expect that we will have much to contribute to each other.

Faye

Global TV – Take Two!

Global News Regina visited our Information Centre over Easter and we got a great spot on the news last Saturday.

http://globalnews.ca/video/embed/1948216/

They liked us so much that they decided to do a more in depth story for this coming weekend. So this past Monday, Raquel Fletcher and her camera crew came to a community potluck at Lois’, for a second round of filming and interviews. Needless to say, it was a super meal! Raquel even said she was tempted to move in just for our cooking.

Global promised us that a longer feature on cohousing and Prairie Spruce will be on  this Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 as a part of Global TV’s Focus Saskatchewan. Definitely tune in to watch, and let us know what you think!

Joanne

P.S. For those of you who are thinking I was not very nice as I didn’t bother to get the camera person’s name….well you’re right and I do feel bad.  It was a bit of a faux pas… but in cohousing fashion, at least I didn’t forget to invite him to have supper with us!

Curling Terms Heard at the Prairie Spruce Blender

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As Joanne relayed last week, we had a great time at the Tartan Curling Blender last weekend. Here are some of the common curling terms we learned about while playing out the end of the season. Looking forward to doing this again next year!

  1. Hard – a term often yelled by the skip or third calling the sweepers to put their best efforts into sweeping the rock to keep it on course; or an expression from the skip or third who just likes to see their teammates sweat; or a measure of the surface tension of the ice as it rapidly encounters the posterior of a hapless curler who has lost their balance.
  2. Hurry – a synonym for “hard” yelled by the skip or third calling the sweepers to put their best efforts into sweeping the rock to keep it on course; or a measure of the pace with which some curlers make their way up to the bar after the game to top up their liquid courage in preparation for their next game.
  3. Blender – another name for a social mixer of the type hosted by the Tartan curling club on April 11; or an expression used by
    curlers to describe how they feel the day after they have exercised muscles that have been dormant for the last number of years , as in “I feel like I have been put through a blender”.Knud-leads-the-dancing-400x284
  4. Straw – a key component of early curling brooms that were made of straw and that was often responsible for littering the ice and causing curling rocks to go off course; or a device for sipping beverages in the bar after the game; or a term used perhaps in reference to the Prairie Spruce Commons curler who picked the short straw and gets to write the blog about the curling blender on April 11. 🙂

Thanks to my teammates and my valiant adversaries in what was a great afternoon of fun and socializing.

Dave

 

Black Sheep Welcome

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I wonder if everyone feels (like me) that they are the black sheep of their family.  Not the full on, crazy cousin that you don’t give your address to black sheep, but just some way that you don’t fit into your family. (Yes, I do have a crazy cousin but he is harmless and he doesn’t know my married name.)

I am the curling black sheep of my family. My older sister has gone to the Canadian Ladies Senior Championship twice as lead on Team Saskatchewan. My father has a lifetime membership in the Yorkton Curling club. My mom was a hard core curler until her back gave out. Then she became the driver for her team – very important when bonspieling in rural Saskatchewan.

I don’t curl. There I’ve said it – it’s out there for everyone to know. Growing up, I was the kid sitting at the curling rink reading a thick book. We lived on a farm and ‘going to the rink’ was one way to get into town. I played on my sister’s team one year. At the end of the year, she very lovingly told me that the rest of the team didn’t want me to curl with them next year; they wanted to win at least one game.

So when Prairie Spruce announced that we would be participating in a Curling blender at the Tartan Curling rink, I was torn. I wanted to hang out with my cohousing friends, but curling? Seriously, curling? I usually use the phrase ‘I’d rather poke a stick in my eye’ when asked about curling.

I took a chance and had a great time. Have I returned from the dark side? Has the curling gene finally shown up? Nope. I took my camera along and had a blast taking pictures. Since they were fun four end games, no one cared that I was on the ice taking pictures. It was absolutely the best time I’ve ever had curling. Prairie Spruce fielded (iced?) two teams. Prairie Spruce One was Henning, Warren, Murray, and Suzanne. Prairie Spruce Two was Dave, Lil, Roger, and Knud. We were the only group that fielded two teams, had a team photographer, as well as a cheering section of Kim, Suzanne’s daughter, Laurie and Claire.

The moral of the story? In cohousing, even black sheep belong!

Joanne

Design Q&A from Beta Sigma Phi

On Wednesday April 1st, 2015, we were invited to give a cohousing presentation to the women of the Regina Beta Sigma Phi Chapter.  Joanne and I were greeted and warmly welcomed by Vivian and Pat.  The presentation was well received by the group, and after the presentation Vivian and Pat presented us with beautiful yellow roses.  This made it our favourite group presentation to date!

A number of insightful questions were asked by the group and we felt inspired to answer these in greater depth via the blog. We’ve found that if one person is asking the question out loud, there’s at least another 10 that are also curious about the answer. We’ll be addressing a number of frequently asked questions over the coming weeks but decided to start with those related to the overall building design:

  • Will the building be made of wood or cement?
  • What walls were built to fire code?

The short answer to these is that the whole building is being built to code and will be wood-frame construction. But we felt that our architect Chris Kailing at Pattison MGM, could offer a more detailed explanation. Here’s what Chris had to say:

The 2010 National Building Code of Canada requires a 1 hour fire separation between the parkade and the upper floors, between the individual units and between the units and corridors. At the main level floor this is accomplished with a concrete slab. In the upper levels this is accomplished in the floors with the use of Gypcrete topping slabs and the use of fire rated drywall on the ceiling. At the unit demising and corridor walls this is accomplished with fire rated drywall. The exterior walls also have fire rated drywall from the interior and the exterior cladding that has been specified includes brick, stucco, and cement board (Hardie Board), which are all fire resistant materials.

Certain doors throughout the building must meet a specific fire rating as well. These include the unit entry doors and fire exit doors and doors to mechanical rooms. These will be solid core doors with a 45 minute fire rating.

Fire resistant ratings and assemblies (walls, floors, etc.) are quantified through a set of elaborate tests that have to do with temperature rise, flame spread, eventual failure of the assembly, etc. In a nut shell though, a one hour rated
assembly (wall, floors, roofs, ceilings) provide protection from catastrophic failure of that assembly for the designated time identified thus allowing adequate time for building inhabitants to exit to safety.

In addition to the required fire ratings the building has a fire sprinkler system which is designed to suppress fires at the location they start before they spread.

As future owners and residents of units at Prairie Spruce Commons, we’ve taken care to ensure that the design of our building will meet our needs for a very long time. If you have any other questions about the design of the building, we can share with you the short form design specifications for the building. Just swing by the Information Centre this weekend – we’d be glad to chat.

Stay tuned and watch for future blog posts with more answers to great questions we’ve received.

Lois

Friends Rather Than Strangers


Girasol-Sur-400x284For the past twenty years my friend has enjoyed winter at Girasol Sur, a condominium located in Mismaloya, Mexico. Located near Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, Girasol Sur has the gorgeous turquoise waters of Bahía de Banderas, beautiful white sand beaches, a tropical savannah climate with dry winters, and bougainvillea that made me gasp with delight. I asked her what she thought contributed most to her experience at Girasol Sur. Expecting the obvious references to the beaches and salt air, her response surprised me. She said the dining space and the large front entrance make us friends rather than strangers.

I would love to live with an ocean view, but that will have to be in my travel life. In my home life, I look forward to living with friends rather than strangers. Like Girasol Sur, the dining space and the welcoming front entrance at Prairie Spruce Commons are two design features that will contribute to community.

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Condo living seems to be designed for people to live next door to one another as strangers. At Prairie Spruce Commons the community and building design helps us to become friends. We are already creating friendships through our monthly community meals, enjoying games and sports, making decisions together, hanging out at the Information Centre, and taking road trips to see other cohousing communities. If you are looking for condo living where you can be a friend rather than a stranger, we are looking for you.

Brenda

How We Define Community

If you google Regina developers or home holders, many nice websites come up. Most contain the word “community” such as “building better communities” or “coherent communities.” As a cohouser, I was curious what other websites had to say on the subject of community. I looked at four or five websites and as far as I could tell, their community was all about the physical space – tree lined streets, bike paths, and parks. There are some nice places in Regina.

But I think community is much more than that. I think the community is about people. Have you ever had a crappy job but stayed longer than you should have because the people you worked with were great? How about a good job that you quit because you couldn’t stand the some of the people you worked with? People are the most important factor in community.

At Prairie Spruce Commons, we are building our community right now. Not the physical building, but the relationships that will make living in the same building easy and rewarding. We are spending time together, getting to know one another. We have had BBQs in the park, house concerts, games nights, and many, many potlucks and community meals. (We have amazing cooks at Prairie Spruce.) I am getting to know my future neighbors. I know who likes dogs and who has a cat. I know who can teach me about art and who I can talk to when I’m upset. I know who likes to garden and who is most likely to have chocolate. I know who wants to learn to make perogies and who will prevent me from cutting off my fingers with a chop saw.

As a group, we have been working on policy: pets (yes, two), smoking (nope, not anywhere on the property), parking (yes, one covered spot). As a group, we have designed and refined the plans for Prairie Spruce Commons. As a group, we have worked through many issues and are still a community. Everyone has their say and everyone is listened to. Sometimes it takes the group a while to reach consensus, but the decisions made that way are always better than what we started with.

Oh yeah, about the physical community space. We’ve got a great building, with a great courtyard, in a great neighbourhood. We are even across the road from a 2300 acre park. I think we got the developer definition of “community” covered too. 🙂

Joanne

Global News Regina Drops In

Easter brought two special visitors to the Information Centre on Sunday.  Neither of the visitors was the Easter bunny with a wagon full of chocolate but we could not have been happier to meet Sarah and Tayrn from Global News – Regina.IMG_0052-300x225

Their producer noticed Prairie Spruce Commons in a tweet, and suggested it for a story. Sarah, Global News Reporter, had certainly done her home work. She had reviewed Prairie Spruce Common’s website and asked our members some insightful questions about cohousing. Tayrn, our Global News Camerawoman, worked the angles and lighting, taking lots of pictures inside and outside the Information Centre.

We were delighted that the two of them spent almost two hours gathering interviews and other shots. They promise the program will be put out sometime this week. If you miss it, the video will be available online at Global News – Regina, and we’ll update this post with the link later this week.

Lois

Inaugural Prairie Spruce Curling Blender

Grab your brooms and sweep … join us at our inaugural Prairie Spruce Commons curling season bl-Ender!

The end of the curling season is fast approaching and we wanted to take the opportunity to get together for a social in the form of a curling “Blender”. Our curling social event will occur on Saturday April 11, 2015 is being sponsored by the Tartan Curling Club located at 1464 Broadway Avenue in Regina. Come with friends or just come and make new friends. Members of the Prairie Spruce Commons community will be there to have fun and support our future neighbourhood curling rink. We would love to meet you and tell you all about our community.

You can register as individuals or as groups and get blended into teams. Games are four ends, the score doesn’t matter, rules are optional – fun is mandatory! Ten dollars per person includes ice time, live music and a free beer. You can register via our Facebook event or by sending us an email.

The place starts hopping around 6:00 p.m. and curling starts as soon as teams are assembled. Then for the brave or perverse they’re turning half the rink into a skating rink at about 9:00 p.m. Don’t bring your hockey sticks though, it’s not that kind of rink. The alternative country band “Wolf Willow” (no relation to Wolf Willow cohousing in Saskatoon) is coming to play and they will be starting about 11:00 p.m. This is definitely something you should attend. If you miss it you will question the whole meaning of your existence and you will probably start wearing shabby clothes and hanging around in bad places in the company of disreputable persons. Don’t let that happen to you. $10.00 is all it will take to save you from a life of shame.

Note: portions of this post were shamelessly plagiarized from the Tartan Curling Club website.

Dave & Lill