Three Generations Under One Cohousing Roof

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Prairie Spruce is a multigenerational cohousing community.  This usually means that the community of residents as a whole consists of children, adults and seniors. At Prairie Spruce, multigenerational cohousing takes on a somewhat unique flavour, albeit common within cohousing communities: we have different generations of the same family moving into their own private condo units within the community. Roger will be living there as well as his parents Dave and Lill. Murray is moving in, along with his sister Lois and mother, Loraine.

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My family is the only one that will have three generations living in Prairie Spruce. Henning, my husband, and I will be moving in with our son, Erik. Henning’s parents, Eva and Knud, will be moving in also. Before you think I am just the best daughter-in-law in the world, you should know three things. First, I am very lucky that I get along very well with my in-laws. They are very nice people. Second, they will be living on the first floor and we will be living on the second floor. Third, they will be looking after my dog part time as he likes to be outside in the summer and they just happen to have a terrace. We are all looking forward to the benefits of living separately within the same condo; living apart, together.

The three Mortensen generations spent some time last Monday morning working together at the Information Centre, roto-tilling the ground in preparation for planting potatoes and zucchini. We’re looking forward to sharing the fruits (vegetables?) of our labour with the community, neighbours and our extended cohousing family.

Joanne

Well-Appointed Kitchens in Each Prairie Spruce Unit!

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On an airline flight I am usually absorbed in the view from the window, or the storyline in a book, or the action on the in-flight entertainment screen. On a recent trip east I was absorbed in a conversation with my seatmate. To ensure his privacy, I will call him Jack. Like so many things in life, your air flight seatmate can be the luck of the draw; some enjoyable, some less so.

Jack was in the ‘enjoyable’ category.  We started our conversation wide and slowly circled in to the particulars of our lives. As we moved into the particulars, I told Jack about the plans of our household to live in Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing. To my delight, Jack had already heard about Prairie Spruce. He had stopped by our table at the Regina Farmers Market, and he had seen recent media coverage about Prairie Spruce.

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Jack and his friends are regulars at the North YMCA, and after a morning workout they go for coffee. They have had conversations about Prairie Spruce over their morning coffees.  Jack was particularly interested to learn about our workshop that will be filled with great tools and workshop projects. The big puzzle for Jack and his friends was how we were going to cope with using a common kitchen.

There seems to be a widespread misconception that Prairie Spruce will have only a common kitchen, but this is not the case. Each unit has a fully equipped, well appointed kitchen, as well as a living-dining area.  The Common House kitchen and dining area is for community events. It can also be reserved for personal or family events; for example our immediate extended family now numbers in the low 30’s and there are ten children under seven! This is too many for our current home, and it will be too many for our unit at Prairie Spruce Commons, but the Common House kitchen and dining room will be perfect for this crowd.

Do you have questions that have been puzzling you about Prairie Spruce?We would love to hear from you.

Brenda

The Return of the Blender Bike

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For many people the Cathedral Arts Festival is the beginning of summer in Regina. Held over the week of May 18 to 23 this year, there are concerts, picnics, a parade, and a huge street fair on Saturday. Prairie Spruce made its first appearance at the Cathedral Street Fair last year, and we are back again for a return engagement.

Some of you were fortunate enough to partake of delicious free slushies that were provided by Nature’s Best and powered by Prairie Spruce. All the slushies were blended on the 100% person powered blender bike. Made from nothing but pure fruit juice and ice, they were probably the tastiest and healthiest drink to be found anywhere on 13th Avenue that day. Lois was caught on film demonstrating the blender bike and modeling her beautiful and functional balloon flower head band.

This year the blender bike returns. Erik will be manning the bike for most of the day. This tall, dark, and handsome  young lad will be sure to attract lots of attention to the Prairie Spruce booth. (I’m his mom; I’m allowed to say that!).

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Both Henning and Dave have been practicing their balloon twisting skills in the off season. Henning assures me he has the worm, the snake, and the hot dog down pat. I haven’t had an update from Dave lately. I can promise flowers, swords and dogs.

Looking forward to seeing you as part of the Street Fair on Saturday May 23!

Joanne

Attack of the Giant Zucchini

Photo Credit: krossbow via Compfight cc

The Prairies are well known for the bounty of certain cash crops in the agriculture sector, but closer to home there is the bounty of our individual vegetable garden plots. And nothing is more prolific when it comes to produce than the legendary zucchini plant.

It is often the case that the zucchini squash starts out as a tasty tender morsel that can be eaten raw, skin and all, or cut up and stir fried in a succulent vegetable medley. But sometimes the plant conceals its progeny under a sheltering leaf hoping it will mature enough to produce the seeds of the next generation. Mother Nature’s process of natural selection has bestowed the gift of accelerated development on the young zucchini squash to assist in it’s self preservation. And then it happens. In a matter of days the tasty morsel morphs into a giant impervious monster thumbing its nose at its nurturing caretaker. At this point, rather than becoming overwhelmed the good-natured gardener cherishes the bounty that has been bestowed upon them and mobilizes their “community” in a magnanimous gesture of “sharing”.

Sharing is part of our culture at Prairie Spruce Commons and we will have a shared garden space on site where those members that love to get close to nature can cultivate and harvest produce of all kinds, including zucchini squash. And for those who just like to watch the cycles of nature unfold their extra sets of eyes will help to prevent the attack of the giant zucchini. And in case a few of the zucchini escape notice and grow large enough to squash a small animal, we can always turn them into chocolate zucchini cake using one of our favourite recipes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Photo Credit: Matthew Oliphant via Compfight cc
  • ½ cup margarine
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup sour milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream margarine, oil and sugar.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and sour milk. Beat well.
  4. Mix together all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Beat well.
  5. Stir in zucchini.
  6. Pour batter into greased 9 inch x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.

Dave and Lill

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