What it takes: The building and yard include a large second floor terrace, a beautiful ground floor patio, a vegetable garden, ground floor spaces for shrubs and trees, and a generous dining room in the common house. The community planted and maintains the trees and shrubs, including ornamentals, apple, saskatoon, cherry, raspberry, and hascap. Knud took the lead in organizing the planting of the vegetable garden. He also waters it. This year we are primarily focusing on root vegetables. Murray takes the lead on watering the trees and shrubs. Donna and Lois seeded a living fence of sunflowers and corn on the west side, weeding is by Warren, and it is growing by leaps and bounds. Six mornings a week there is drop-in coffee time, either in the dining room or on the patio. Both spaces allow for physical distancing while visiting and help us stay connected. We also keep connected through technology via Zoom and groups.io. Henning takes the lead on these technologies
What results: Strengthening community, staying current with one another, putting down roots, being nourished in body and spirit by living plants, and contributing to the life force in the wider neighbourhood.
There is nothing like being inside the building, and the community, to get a real sense of how one cohousing community works. On Wednesday January 8, 2020, Ashley Martin and Brandon Harder, from the Regina Leader Post, visited with us. We think they did an excellent job conveying the complexity, beauty, and uniqueness of cohousing. You can read their article here: ‘Prairie Spruce residents settling into their unique new home in Regina’ by Ashley Martin, photos by Brandon Harder.
Tom lives in a funky micro-penthouse under the eaves on the third floor and Laurie and Jim, Tom’s parents, live in the south east corner of the second floor. This is the morning after our first-ever Prairie Spruce Commons Christmas Party. The first-floor hallway is humming with chat and work.
Jean is on her way to the Common House to unload the dishwasher. Ruth is carrying a beautiful fresh Balsam Fir into her own house and walking down the hall with her boots still on … (a definite no-no, but she swears they are clean). Tom and Laurie are in search of a broom so they can clean-up around the tree.
“I don’t think we have a broom on the first floor. We have many mops, two vacuum cleaners, and a Hoover floor-washer, but no broom.” “Ok then, I’m going back upstairs to get ours.”
Many of us have moved into our beautiful home(s) within the last 6 to 8 weeks. More and more spaces of order and beauty are emerging. Some areas still need work. That’s how it goes. It felt good to put aside the unpacking, sorting, and organizing and have a good meal together with no agenda, or decisions and time to just be together and celebrate our first ever Prairie Spruce Commons Christmas dinner.
By the way … if you’re looking for a broom … there’s one on the second floor.
I married into a Danish family. My in-laws and husband were all born in Denmark. Despite living in Canada for 40 years, they still maintain many Danish traditions. Most of my favorites involve food. I have been introduced to smørrebrød – open faced sandwiches that must be eaten with a knife and fork. I have come to love herring and the occasional shot of aquavit. There is always risalamande (rice pudding with almonds) at Christmas.
It is usually topped with cherry pie filling, but last year it was topped with homemade cherry preserves. It was amazing. Tart cherry goodness mixed with creamy rice sweetness, this was something that I had to learn how to make.
Making cherry preserves is not that easy. It takes a lot of work to pick and pit the cherries. So I asked the other members of Prairie Spruce to give us a hand. Not only did we get Prairie Spruce members out, we even got some friends of cohousing out to pick. There were seven of us picking cherries.
Ann told us about picking cherries at boarding school in England. She said they were let into the fenced in an orchard and not allowed out until all the cherries were picked.
Henning was a bit slower than Ann as his pail didn’t have a handle. I don’t think he had quite as much experience picking berries either.
It didn’t take long for the cherry trees to be stripped bare. Then we moved onto the other berries that needed to be picked. Murray and James picked a gallon or two of saskatoons and Knud picked raspberries.
The afternoon ended with tea and ice cream with fresh raspberries for all. Murray took home the saskatoons, hopefully, to make one of his famous fruit crisps. Eva had two huge bowls of cherries, ready to be pitted. I helped pit, but she was so much faster with her hairpin.
Sharing is one of the core values of Prairie Spruce Commons.
‘Proceed as Way Opens’ is a Quaker concept used to guide wise decisions and actions. Although we are not part of a Quaker community, we recognize, as a result of a generous gift from anonymous donors, a way has opened in Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing.
Because of the generosity of this gift, we were able to significantly reduce the prices on our remaining units. When we began working with our architects PMGM (now 1080 Architecture), Saskatchewan and Regina were at the peak of a booming economy. We designed a beautiful, energy efficient building that is environmentally sustainable, exceeds soundproofing requirements, maximizes natural light, and has generous community spaces and unique private units. We are nearing the completion of construction, and we can now offer these high-quality units (and shared common space) at prices that are in keeping with our current economy. Thank you to the generous donors who helped make this happen.
Have you watched Ellen DeGeneres play Heads Up! on her showEllen? It is a fun game where you hold a word on your forehead and others give you clues to help you discover the word. On the Ellen show the words are often the names of movies or movie stars. When the Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing community played Heads Up!, the words we used were feelings or needs (feelings examples: tender, warm, relieved, surprised, hopeless, irate, proud, and needs examples: safety, choice, belonging, participation). There were outbursts of laughter as we played together. It was a creative and fun way to expand our conscious communication literacy. At Prairie Spruce Commons we are investing in our future by learning the skills of conscious communication with the support of Jodi Woollam
It is not easy to begin to pay attention to and alter the ways we communicate. We can feel anxious, uncomfortable, and awkward. These are feelings most of us want to avoid, but doing it in a playful way makes it easier. Any time you try something new, like building a bird house or learning to cook or taking up a new sport, there is a period where it is unfamiliar, but approaching it as play really helps lighten the experience. On a recent episode of The Nature of Things, David Suzuki met with people around the world who are exploring the nature and role of play in animals. They are learning that play is essential in social bonding. At Prairie Spruce Commons we are also learning how play is contributing to our social bonding.
To learn more about conscious communication click here
To learn more about Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing click here
We currently have seven units available at Prairie Spruce Commons, 1625 Badham Boulevard, Regina.
The show suite is open Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm – 4 pm or to book a time please phone Dave at 306-586-1363 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you crying?
There’s no crying in baseball”
I was channeling Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) from A League of Their Own a few days ago. Except my brain inserted “a meeting” instead of “baseball.” Yet there I was, crying, not once, but twice, at a meeting about topsoil and trees.
Before you read any further, let me assure you they were happy tears at an unexpected gift, something no one, not even my husband, knew I wanted.
I was the youngest of 18 grandchildren. I was blessed to be able to spend a lot of time with my grandmother. She taught me how to crochet, cook, and garden. She taught me the importance of family and the power of Faith. She had 101 years on this Earth before, in her words, “Jesus took her up to Glory”.
I wanted to do something to honor her memory. It took me a long time to decide that I wanted to plant an oak tree to symbolize her strength and longevity. I never got around to it as I never knew where to plant the tree. I didn’t want to plant it in Yorkton, on my mom’s farm, that seemed too far away. I didn’t want to plant it at my house in Regina, as I knew we would be moving at some point. I even thought about planting one in Wascana Park, in the middle of the night, and hoping no one would notice.
Imagine my joy, and happy tears, when I found out that there would be two oaks trees planted at Prairie Spruce. They are going to be near the front entrance so I can see them when I leave for work; what a wonderful start that will be to my day.
The SOG (Soils, Outdoors, and Garden) team has done an amazing job. They started with the original landscape design by PMGM Architecture, now 1080 Architecture, Planning + Interiors. Then they consulted the City of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, haskap grower Charles Lipnick, and our own Prairie Spruce member, Dr. Knud Mortensen.
Their task was to find trees and shrubs that
were hardy to zone 3b,
were grown in Saskatchewan,
would provide color all year round,
could shade and shelter the building and ourselves from sun and wind,
provide food and shelter for birds, and
Not an easy task, but I am happy to report that they succeeded. We are going to have Goodland and Honeycrisp apple trees for apple crisps. We will have Borealis and Indigo Treat haskap berries. Laurie has more experience with them than I do, so I will be learning from her. I will be picking, and Eva will be canning (hopefully), the Carmine Jewel sour cherries. I will be teaching everyone the secrets of saskatoon perogies. The rest of the landscaping will be completed with blue spruce, mungo pines, linden trees, ninebarks and, of course, two oak trees.
I grew up on a farm. Bugs didn’t bother me*. I ate a lot of dirt as a child.
I remember being very confused, in elementary school, as my friend freaked out because there was a moth on the steps in front of us. “What’s the big deal? It’s just a moth.”, I thought.
Karma has such a sense of humour.
Fast forward 20 years, I’m on my honeymoon. We are staying at my husband’s grandparents’ house. We have the upstairs bedroom with a balcony that looks out on the harbour.
How beautiful… How romantic…
Until it’s time for bed, and I realize that there spiders all over the room. Mormor (grandma) and Morfar (grandpa) had opened the doors to the balcony to air out the room for us and the spiders had moved in.
There were millions of spiders… ok maybe not millions, but a lot. I just remember sitting in the middle of the bed crying hysterically, as my darling, and somewhat surprised, husband tried to explain to his grandma why his new wife was freaking out. Mormor simply got out the broom and dustpan and swept the walls and ceiling for me. I loved her from that point onward.
Today, I surrounded myself with 137 spiders.
No, I’m not in therapy.
I was getting ready for Prairie Spruce’s return to the Regina Farmers’ Market on Saturday, June 30. I planted 137 spider plants that we will be giving away at the Farmers’ Markets over the summer. (Yeah, I did to count; it was bugging me.)
So why isn’t Prairie Spruce giving away… well… prairie spruce.
One reason we don’t give away prairie spruce trees is that prairie spruce trees don’t exist. (I googled it, and quit looking after page 10). We picked the name, Prairie Spruce, based on our location, values, and beliefs. You can learn more about our choice here.
Spider plants are much easier to grow than spruce trees. (I googled that too.)
So if you would like to learn some more about cohousing, and get a free, air-purifying, spider plant, come visit us at the Regina Farmers’ Market. We are planning to be there
Saturday, June 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, July 26 for a Market Under the Stars, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Wednesday, August 21, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
All dates are weather permitting.
*To be 100% truthful (and in case my sister reads this), I have an issue with wood ticks which dates back to a vivid memory of my first embedded wood tick. In pre-internet times, no one really knew how to remove a wood tick. “Pour gasoline on it.”, they said. “No, put a match to it.” Lucky for me, my parents didn’t follow that advice, especially in that order. My first trip to Emergency was traumatizing at age 6. Wood ticks are not bugs in my world; they are the Devil’s spawn.
We feel lucky to have Jodi Woollam as our teacher and facilitator in learning Compassionate Communications. It’s not easy to find teachers who know this stuff and Jodi lives and works in ‘our town’. jodi.woollam.ca
Here are some reflections from our cohousers after the first workshop.
“Learning Compassionate Communications is helping me to understand how important it is for me to be aware of and look after my own needs in a kind and respectful ways.”
“I thought it might all be over my head but it wasn’t and my Prairie Spruce Community helped and supported me in learning.”
“Participating in the Compassionate Communications Workshop with Jodi Woollam helped me see that I want to develop emotional vocabulary.”
The clearer we are about what is motivating our actions the more intentional, self-aware and conscious of others, we can be about how we go about it. Click here for the blog: Four Guides to Improve Communications.
Communicating well isn’t something we are born with, it takes time, awareness, help, feedback, intention, self-awareness, and willingness to fall flat on our faces and try again and again.
I feel lucky to be part of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing Community who values learning and growing both individually and as a community.
If you’re considering becoming a member of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing now is a great time while units are still available and the community is getting ready for our second workshop in Compassionate Communications in October 2018.
In the future, we hope our Common House might become a place where cohousers together with neighbours and members of the wider community gather to learn in areas such as Compassionate Communications, Composting, Container Gardening and who knows what all else.
For more information about Compassionate Communications and Marshall B. Rosenberg, the founder please contact the Centre for Nonviolent Communications at www.CNVC.org
Saturday, May 12 was a very exciting day for everyone at Prairie Spruce. It was the first time we had a chance to go inside our new home.
We started out on the first floor in the common dining and lounge area. Everyone was looking around and enjoying the amount of light coming in from the many windows, thinking about where the kitchen would be, and how great drinks on the terrace were going to be. (OK, maybe I was the only one thinking about drinks on the deck.)
Those members whose units are on the first floor got to look longingly through the framing at their units. The hoses for the in-floor heating and cooling (red in the picture ) were laid out, but not cemented in yet, so they couldn’t tour their units. They were able to tour the units on the second floor that have the same design, so they could still get a feel for the size and design of their units.
Then everyone went upstairs to explore the second and third floors.