Two Sundays ago, several Prairie Spruce Commons members and guests travelled to Saskatoon to visit Wolf Willow Cohousing. We were greeted warmly by the community, and welcomed into their common house and suites. The common kitchen is both appealing and functional, and Prairie Spruce was immediately invited to use the space to prepare the potluck lunch. After lunch, Christine from Wolf Willow and Ruth from Prairie Spruce co-chaired a question and answer session that both communities found to be informative. This general meeting was followed by small group tours of the building.
We were so impressed! Wolf Willow is built on a compact lot, but the use of building space and landscaping is very effective. Our timing was just right to see the flowers and vegetables that the community grows around the building and even on the boulevard. An outdoor eating area overlooks a pond and bridge. It was interesting to learn about the design and construction of their sturdy metal fence, which looks great and was cost effective. A nearby bike path is practical for bike traffic and long walks.
Inside, we were all amazed at the use of windows to provide abundant natural light. Not only are all those windows a stunning design feature, they are integral to the expansive feeling of the building. It was reassuring to see just how spacious and comfortable a down-sized suite can be. The use of wood in cupboards, doors, and other aspects of the building adds to its warmth and environmental impact. We saw many examples of how the privacy and integrity of individual homes can co-exist with the participation and interaction found in the common spaces and overall building.
Having the opportunity to observe a functioning workshop, recycling area, garage, exercise room, craft room, laundry room, kitchen, and lounge was invaluable for a cohousing community that is in the planning stages. We saw first-hand how the guest rooms can also house an accessible bathroom. In fact, all the bathrooms in Wolf Willow are generously proportioned (and we were just a bit jealous!). Distinctive personal touches have been added throughout the building with framed artwork, wall hangings, and tempting reading and conversation nooks. There is no doubt that the members of this community have an artistic bent.
Our visit to Wolf Willow emphasized the benefits of living in a cohousing community. A plus was discovering the fun that is in store when our two communities exchange visits in the years to come.