Three Generations Under One Cohousing Roof


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.

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.


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. 🙂


Life in Commons

Commons /kämənz/: [noun] – land or resources belonging to or affecting the whole of a community.

Now I really get it! Prairie Spruce Commons! I have been looking at the promotional packages for other condominium buildings in Regina and see that their suites are comparable to what Prairie Spruce Commons is offering. But outside the door of those suites, where are the Commons? Where are the shared spaces that help to create community and culture? It would be like living in Regina without Wascana Park! Not something I want to imagine.

But I do enjoy imagining my life in the commons at Prairie Spruce Commons. I mentally go through the list of vistas, in all the directions afforded to me from all the commons. I could go to the commons dining room on the main floor, or the terraces on the second and third floor and see what is happening in the western sky. I could also go to the sewing room/arts room on the third floor, or the lounge on the first floor to see the north sky. I could check out the view from the two guest rooms. Or perhaps the view into our courtyard, garden and play structure from the commons kitchen. I could look upon the cool hobbyist projects in the workshop with all those power tools that I love. I imagine enjoying the use of our media/music room, our bike share space, our exercise room… These will all be part of the commons at Prairie Spruce Commons.

Beyond our amazing shared amenities, there is the commons within and beyond the building: that precious commons of air, water and people. Residents eager to install solar voltaic panels and invest in sustainable and efficient design. Innovators willing to investigate the use of grey water recycling in Regina. Neighbours seeking to reduce overall energy consumption and lighten their footprint through resource sharing.

What a joy it will be to live in a community that celebrates the generosity of the commons.