Commons Vignettes, or 144 Reasons to Live in Community compiled by Ken Hughes

The Commons on the Alameda is a 28 home clustered, co-housing compound in Santa Fe. With parking on the perimeter,  a delightful pedestrian path connects a series of placitas. (editor note * with more space online, the GFT article 101 Reasons to live in Community has expanded..Enjoy! 

28 unit Co-Housing, with shared grounds, laundry, common house

The Commons on the Alameda is a 28 home clustered, co-housing compound in Santa Fe. With parking on the perimeter,  a delightful pedestrian path connects a series of placitas. (editor note * with more space online, the GFT article 101 Reasons to live in Community has expanded..Enjoy! 

I wish so much for the transformation of St. Michaels Drive. As a planner I often think of the physical side and how important it is to get it right. Yet all too often the social side makes or breaks a community, a neighborhood, a place. Having the great good fortune to spend the last two decades planning, building and living in the Commons on the Alameda co-housing community, I get to experience the benefits of both a quality physical and social setting. What might that mean? Here are 144 answers from many of my 81 “commoners.”

  1. Water fountain that embraces our dinner circle and sustains birds
  2. Never having to leave home and take on the treacherous roads to get to the party on New Year’s Eve
  3. Borrowing five kayaks to take on a weekend adventure with one little e-mail
  4. Hopping on the bike trail to town or walking in the park just steps from my door
  5. Caring people around, ready to share sorrows, even when I haven’t reached out, and opportunities to share theirs
  6. Impromptu celebrations
  7. Hosting a give-and-take free-box, keeping clutter out of my house and the landfill, or offering surprises
  8. Talented people sharing their gifts of art on our common walls or to our ears in our parlor
  9. Regular exposure to a range of generations
  10. Beautiful landscaping without having to do it all myself
  11. Knowing all of my 80-some neighbors by name
  12. A five-year-old biking to the front door to let me know she wants to ride my horse
  13. A garden planted by a neighbor and watered by another in my front yard
  14. Impromptu lemonade or watermelon stands
  15. Fire circles that reveal our tribal nature
  16. Daily dog walks of my elderly dog by the elder men of the community
  17. Gifts in exchange for notary services
  18. A dozen chickens and their fresh eggs
  19. Neighbors who transform into colleagues to help support my professional endeavors
  20. Healers who share
  21. Neighbors who appreciate what I have to give
  22. E-mailing a request for an item and getting three responses in eight minutes
  23. Fixing a neighbor’s bike and getting a plate of warm brownies in return
  24. Enjoying a pot-luck dinner
  25. Putting together a poker game at a moment’s notice
  26. Getting an offer of a beer between the carport and the front door
  27. Enjoying a great organic dinner twice a week, courtesy of a thoughtful chef and three/four assistants
  28. Other people’s children all around, adding youthful joy – without responsibilities – to my life
  29. Photographing the changing seasons and changing children, an unconscious longitudinal study
  30. Running into neighbors at the store, the Lensic, farmers market, and if not, wondering where they are
  31. Getting a pesky computer issue resolved within minutes
  32. Melting irritation at something not getting done when it’s done faster than thought possible
  33. Drumming circle around the fire pit
  34. The Plaza, an oasis of green, of calming, of celebration, of home
  35. Ten generations represented, including three young women still active in their 90s
  36. Enjoying the Santa Fe River in our backyard
  37. Strolling through Frenchy’s Field, just beyond the river
  38. Biking on the new riverside bike trail
  39. Sound of horses at the nearby stables
  40. Being so at ease with my neighbors that I can walk in my terry robe to an invitation to soak in one hot tub or sauna on the other side of the compound
  41. Sharing the Commons with 100-plus friends during our annual fall celebration
  42. The opportunity to contribute, whether it is gardening, cooking or caring for a neighbor in need
  43. Neighbors becoming friends
  44. Bocce ball in the orchard after dinner
  45. Watching the kids grow up
  46. Squealing children playing in the sprinkler on the Plaza
  47. The little cuties in the childcare program
  48. Celebrating holidays together
  49. Diversity within common themes
  50. Very appreciative neighborly help with food and groceries when you are living alone and so sick you can’t get out of bed
  51. Being kept informed about the latest cutting-edge issues, political and ecological
  52. Access twice a week to the best culinary bargain in Santa Fe: for between $4 and $7, I get an all-organic meal and the chance to chat with my up-to-the-minute neighbors
  53. I get to pet a lot of dogs
  54. Without benefit of car, I cross the sidewalk to get the best hair cut in Santa Fe
  55. Free notary
  56. Swings for my visiting granddaughter at each placita
  57. When I need to find the best plumber, tree person, etc. in town, I have only to send out an e-mail to my neighbors
  58. In a medical emergency, the best physician in Santa Fe is a 2-minute walk away
  59. I go to the movies in the Common House without renting one or using my car
  60. Built-in companions greet my granddaughter and take her home to play
  61. When I run short of one egg for my gala event recipe, I borrow one from next door
  62. Hanging laundry out to dry where no one sees it
  63. Having a yummy community supper twice a week and reconnecting with folks I haven’t seen for a few days
  64. Mopping the kitchen floor after the supper, knowing that at least two other commoners have worked hard to do the dishes and put everything away
  65. Laughing together at Business Meetings
  66. Having a monthly rhythm of preparing the Business Meetings (with the Board), having them, and evaluating them (with the Process Committee)
  67. Receiving hand-picked posies and a card from the children when I’m not feeling so well
  68. Hearing the voices of the children at play in front of our house and in the back, in the orchard
  69. Celebrating birthdays each month when the birthday people can tell two truths and a lie and we can guess which is which
  70. Celebrating important moments in the lives of fellow commoners – a weddings, anniversaries, departure of the youngest for college
  71. Hearing piano-practicing by children and adults alike
  72. Dancing together
  73. Knowing our dog will be well taken care of when we’re away
  74. Trusting my neighbors
  75. Being influenced by two- and three-year-olds, ninety-plus-year-olds, and all ages in between
  76. Examining long-held biases because someone else sees things differently than I do
  77. Can put my friends up in the guest rooms; convenient as my house is small
  78. Planning together to maintain our common areas
  79. Sharing rides to community events and trips toAlbuquerque
  80. Struggling to change the bylaws so we can have clotheslines and rain barrels
  81. Watching the children as they gather for rides to school
  82. Stopping in to talk with the small ones in the Kids Coop
  83. Impromptu dinners outside in the placita
  84. Working together on work day
  85. Watching the children grow up
  86. Having delicious meals provided by neighbors during a prolonged illness, along with lots of other support
  87. Feeling excited about coming home after a trip
  88. Lying in the hammock under the sycamore trees
  89. Feeling a sense of safety and security that comes from knowing that the neighbors will help in time of need
  90. The pleasure that comes from knowing that I can be of help
  91. Being able to serve the medical needs of my neighbors
  92. Watching us grow and evolve as a community over the past 19 years
  93. Learning how to resolve conflicts and work through problems together
  94. Having an extended family close by, from whom we get support, friendship, sharing
  95. Living in a community whose values are centered around ecological principles
  96. Living among friends, true friends, more than “just a neighbor”
  97. Witnessing babies born at home, growing up, then going off to college
  98. We have a history with our community, as well as our own family
  99. We like being the mentors, and have never regretted our decision to move into co-housing
  100. Getting a call to help out with whatever isn’t working
  101. Monthly birthday celebrations with cakes for each dietary preference, made by a commoner
  102. Each of the kids knows our names and feels comfortable dropping in for a visit
  103. Phoebe is my neighbor, it is fun (from one six-year-old to another)
  104. Going to play with friends is fun
  105. 20 kids in The Commons are my best friends
  106. Feeding the chickens and gathering eggs
  107. Swinging
  108. The plaza is very furry, my friend Julian and I roll on the grass, then we go in to eat snacks
  109. The Commons is great to live here, I love it
  110. Because I can play all day with my friends!!!!!!!!!!!!
  111. Where you here expressions of gratitude all the time
  112. As you walk out your front door, a three-year-old runs across the plaza to grab your leg and look up saying, “I love you”
  113. An 80-year-old who wants a hug because someone had hurt her feelings
  114. Laughing with friends so hard and so long that at 10 pm a neighbor has to come and request quiet
  115. Sharing two meals every week and benefiting with never knowing who will be sharing conversation at the dinner table
  116. Having meals, parties, work days, meetings, and spontaneous conversations within two minutes of walking
  117. Discovering four giggly kids packed into a box when you thought the squiggly noises were from a trapped squirrel – and they are delighted that you are you and not someone else
  118. Sparing the landfill and car trips with e-mail give-aways and e-mail requests for a needed item
  119. Private terrace with friendly neighbors beyond
  120. Gardening together or alone
  121. Feeding the community compost that later feeds us
  122. Waking to the sounds of chickens and horses and sometimes children
  123. Folding laundry in the community laundry room while chatting with a neighbor friend
  124. A phone and e-mail list of everyone in the community in case of an emergency
  125. Being able to help each other out
  126. Intriguing chats with any of our easy-to-engage-with elders
  127. Enjoying OPKs and OPPs–other peoples’ kids and pets
  128. Enjoying the many freedoms of a pedestrian village
  129. Bartering services
  130. Receiving unexpected warm embraces
  131. Giving warm embraces
  132. A safe desert oasis
  133. Festivities
  134. Common visions
  135. Humoring differences among us
  136. An opportunity to offer my/our gifts and to see my/our growth edges such as ample chances to practice the five agreements
  137. Home hopping for tea
  138. Meals shared
  139. To live in a different place but still be in the community,
  140. Taking turns with dog-sitting
  141. Sharing our homes when we go away
  142. Finding surprise presents at my door or in my cubby
  143. Delivering little gifts to touch someone’s heart
  144. Quiet breathing in and out, a tea kettle whistles, a child cries, the leaves rustle in the trees, a neighbor going to work, another to milk the goats, life continues and breathes, awareness of rhythms – your own and those around you, children laughing, swinging in the hammock, coming to borrow an egg for breakfast or an early morning playtime, recognizing a neighbor’s laugh, singing to the plants. Does it help them grow better? Probably. Shared meals, farm shares, dog care and childcare, feeling supported and loved and held in a stretchy glistening web of life that contains uncounted possibilities.


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