Another Great Cathedral Arts Festival

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The Cathedral Arts Festival (CAF) always winds up with a fantastic street fair. This year was no exception. There were over 300 vendors that lined the streets in the Cathedral neighbourhood. There were food vendors, artists, buskers, and of course Prairie Spruce Commons.

Our booth was hopping from 10:00am on. Over the course of the day, we gave out over 600 slushies! As was the case last year, Nature’s Best Market provided the supplies and the blender bike, while Erik provided the power. Based on his work this year, Erik’s job description has been upgraded from Blender Boy to Mixer Man.

One great thing about our cohousing community is the way we work together. Suzanne came up with the idea to make pinwheels to give away. Erik upgraded the design by solving a design flaw: our original pinwheel with a straight pin sticking out of it needed a bit more design. I added some graphics promoting Prairie Spruce and Warren helped assemble them. Cohousing is working together.

Another great thing about cohousing community is our members’ willingness to share their skills. One of my many skills (some would say quirks) is balloon twisting. I’m not great but I can make a mean flower and – ok I’m just good at one flower. But I can do a passable dog or sword. I am now mentoring both Murray and Dave in the fine art of balloon blowing. By the end of the day, they were awesome at burping balloons – yes, that really is the technical term.  Cohousing is mentoring.

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A third great thing about our cohousing community is the acknowledgment that we all have different gifts. Eva volunteered to help at CAF, but she was a bit concerned about how she’d be able to contribute. It was soon clear that Eva was an important part of the booth team. Erik mixed the slushies on the blender bike. Eva portioned them out into cups. This freed up Suzanne to stand in front of the booth and hand out samples. Eva could then direct people back to the booth to talk to Murray, Lois, Dave, or Warren. Suzanne also kept an eye out for children in need of balloons which I made on request as the parents found out about cohousing. Cohousing is about supporting each other!

If we can have this much fun at a street fair, imagine what it will be like to live with us. Send us an email to find out how.

Joanne

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

A "Tom Sawyer" Turkey Dinner

Tom_Sawyer-238x284Everyone knows the story of Tom Sawyer, a clever young boy who convinces his friends to do his work for him. It is a work of fiction, but the story it seems has inspired many…

About two weeks ago, Murray announced that he was going to cook a turkey for a birthday dinner our community would host while Chris, one of our project managers, was going to be in town. Our Prairie Spruce community rallied behind Murray’s idea and other members quickly offered to make something for the meal. I offered to make extra stuffing. Henning offered to bring perogies. Salads and desserts were volunteered. The Gagnons were going to make some delicious homemade cranberry sauce.

In the lead into the dinner prep, Murray mentioned it would be good to have some help so our host Lois stepped up to help cook the potatoes and Dave volunteered to come early to carve the turkey.3064997632_d930edb767

As with any prairie potluck, there was food in abundance. Jean and Faye brought a spinach salad with strawberries, avocados and poppy seeds. Henning brought perogies whose silky smooth dough and delicious filling drove even those who normally are gluten free or vegetarians to try a couple. Joyce treated us to two types of custard and someone made the best apple crisp I have ever had. Warren offered up cheesecake. Several bottles of wine appeared out of assorted bags and boxes.

Suzanne arrived with a large pan. It was topped with golden brown crumbs and was filled with a smooth, creamy-looking concoction. Hmm, I wondered what it was, some type of delightful potato casserole? Perhaps another dessert? A new vegetarian dish for me to sample? It smelled wonderful. I asked her what it was. Turnip Fluff was her answer. Oh…

I have spent my entire life hating turnips. My mom would boil them to a nasty, pale orange mush and force us to “just try a little.” To this day, some 30 years later, my mom still wants me to “just try a little” of her boiled turnips. As an adult, I can just smile, say “no thanks” and pass them to my dad who really likes them. My dad is English –  you can draw your own conclusions from that.

But life is about trying new things, so I tried “just a little” of Suzanne’s Turnip Fluff. It was delicious. It was fluffy. It was wonderful. I experienced a personal epiphany – turnips are not nasty; they are really quite good. I went back for seconds – a much bigger helping this time. (I wonder what she can do with Brussel sprouts – my second least favorite vegetable?)

When it was time for cleanup in the kitchen, Murray had to retire to the living room to attend the marketing meeting. Fortunately, Ruth came to the rescue. She offered to clean up while the rest of us attended the meeting.

We teased Murray, our “Tom Sawyer of the North”, quite a bit that night about his turkey dinner. But the reality is, we were all Tom Sawyers that night. By splitting up the work, delegating cooking and cleaning, we all benefitted in a way that could only have been possible through group effort. Only one of us had to make the cranberry sauce, only one of us had to bring the turnip fluff and only one of us had to do the dishes. But we ALL had fun. We all got to enjoy the meal and enjoy each others company.

I’m looking forward to Murray’s next party. 🙂

Joanne

 

Cohousing Recipes: Vegetarian Taco Filling

This is the first in a four part series of cohousing recipes. As part of Joanne’s role as community meal prepper last week, she wanted to prepare items that reflected the diversity of food values and choices within the community. Being a self-described “meatatarian”, she is somewhat unaccustomed to preparing non-omnivore meals but she wanted to be respectful of her friends’ personal values and dietary requirements. The series is meant to showcase the respect and love we can show one another, simply by caring about what people can, and choose to eat in community.

Joanne says: With a little searching and a lot of luck I found a great vegetarian taco recipe. It is super easy to make. My husband said it reminds him of Mexico. Thank you Taste of Home. I don’t think I’m ready to be a full time vegetarian, but I no longer twitch at the thought of a meal without meat. 🙂

#tacotuesday + challenging myself to eat #vegetarian for the rest of this week = chickpea tacos!
Photo Credit: @aerial_m via Compfight cc

Veggie Taco Filling

 

Ingredients

  • 8 taco shells
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cup julienned sweet red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

Directions

  1. Heat taco shells according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the cabbage, onion and red pepper in oil for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle with sugar.
  2. Stir in the beans, salsa, chilies, chili powder, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated through. Spoon into taco shells. Garnish with cheese and avocado. Yield: 4 servings.

Information Centre to Open Soon!

December 19, 2014 was another big step forward in bringing our cohousing project to Regina. Before dawn that day, the portable office we will use for our information centre arrived at the site! In about an hour the crew had the portable office unloaded and leveled.Prairie-Spruce-Information-Center-2014-12-19-e1420838338444-400x284

A couple of days after the arrival of the office, several members of our community met at the info centre to drop off furniture with which to warmly furnish the information centre. It was soon arranged to be a welcoming place to come have a tea and chat about the project when we open.

We have been patiently waiting for the power to be hooked up to the information centre so that we can have heat and light for our visitors. We expect this to happen in the next few days. As soon as power is provided, the information centre will be opening on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. You can also request a special appointment by phoning (306)586-1363.

In the meantime and as caring members of the neighbourhood, we have been keeping the sidewalk clear of snow for the entire block in front of the information centre on Badham Boulevard. This will allow our future neighbours in the area to be able to walk on the sidewalk and enjoy the wonderful amenities in the neighbourhood easily and without fear of falling.

We’ll be sure to update our webpage as soon as we officially open. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!

Murray

Christmases Past, Present and Future

Christmas at Lancaster Cohousing

When I was a little girl, Christmas was amazing. We would go to town and drive around and look at the Christmas lights. We would stop at our friend’s house for snacks, and then go to the church Christmas program. The highlight of the evening was a big meal at my grandmother’s house. All my cousins would be there. There were so many people that we ate sitting on the stairs. It was magical.

My cousins have grown up, got married, and moved away. The only time I see them is at weddings and funerals. Christmas is quieter now. It is still wonderful – Christmas service at the church, a beautiful meal, singing and dancing around the tree. (Yeah we really do that.) There were only 7 of us for Christmas this year and it seemed a bit lonely.

What will Christmas in cohousing be like? I haven’t talked to anyone yet but I imagine a quiet morning with my family. Then games in the afternoon in the common house – everything from Scrabble to Hamsterolle to Euchre. The day would finish with a big potluck supper with everyone’s favorites – turkey, roast pork, mushroom stew, salmon and a lot of things I haven’t even heard of yet.

What do you think Christmas will be like in cohousing? How would you make the holidays special at Prairie Spruce Commons?

Joanne

Thirty-Five Pounds of Potatoes, Family and Friends

What can you make from 35 pounds of potatoes, 12 pounds of onions, 8 pounds of bacon and 7 cohousers? – Happiness, community and a lot of perogies!

 

Prairie-Spruce-Perogies-Assembly-Team-400x284Growing up on a farm outside Yorkton, it was hard not to become Ukrainian by association. When most of the neighbours were Ukrainian, and half the family married Ukrainians, it didn’t take too long to learn how to cook some amazing ethnic dishes.

I have fond memories of making perogies with my mother and grandmother and being amazed at how perfect grandma’s perogies were. They were all the same size and were perfect half moons. The ones I made usually looked like a blob or a skinny chicken. The very best times were getting together with all the neighbour ladies to make perogies for someone’s wedding. There would be 15 or 20 women in the kitchen rolling dough, pinching perogies, cooking perogies and onions. Much advice would be shared with the bride and many stories would be told about married life.

Perogie Murray
Murray cutting dough.

I am looking forward to moving into cohousing and finding my home community again. We had a trial run last Saturday when together with Eva and Knud, Murray and Lois, and Henning, Erik and I we neatly folded and pinched enough perogies to use up the 55 lbs of filling that we had made. Combined with much conversation and laughter we worked together as a well-oiled machine. We broke for lunch and sampled the fresh perogies we had just made, sautéed in cream with onions, and accompanied by Ukrainian garlic sausage. They were fabulous. After lunch we worked for a couple hours more to finish off the second half of the filling. We ended with a cup of tea and the good feeling of a job well done.

We have a process and it has over time morphed and been optimized for a given number of people. As we move into cohousing, this process will be expanded and changed to accommodate greater numbers, but we are sure that the camaraderie and the laughter will always be a part of our little perogies productions.

Joanne

The Benefits of Raising a Family in Cohousing

The first cohousing community was started in Denmark in the 1960s in part from the belief that “it takes a village to raise a child”. When Bodil Graae, Danish author and journalist, published an article in 1967 called “Children Should Have One Hundred Parents”, the benefit of cohousing became clear. Those benefits are all the more poignant today.

Many children today grow up in large cities far away from their extended family. Families are also generally smaller today than they used to be. Individuals and families benefit from the help, support and the feeling of “belonging” that a nearby extended family may give. Cohousing communities can act as that oft missing extended family in our increasingly isolated daily lives.

Children in a cohousing community grow up with many people of different ages and cultures around them. This is a unique advantage because these children will grow up to be open minded and social, and with an interest in and respect for people of all ages and cultures. These children will also have many role models who may teach, mentor and inspire them throughout their childhood and beyond.

A cohousing community also provides safe areas such as play rooms, craft rooms, gardens and outdoor play areas where children can interact with each other and learn at the same time. These facilities generally reduce the need for families to enrol in extra activities outside of the community during the week, which then allows more time for families to be together. When activities such as swimming classes and soccer practice do take the children outside the home, families can take turns transporting children. 

As a parent, I’m really excited about the opportunities that cohousing and Prairie Spruce Commons will provide. For my little one: access to awesome shared spaces, in-community friends to play with and additional non-parent mentors. For myself, the shared parenting resources, babysitting and the additional quality time for myself and my family means less stress and a happier lifestyle. Win-win!

Malin