Our community is a part of downtown Cotati, California (population 6,700). We are a typical cohousing community (in the tradition of the book, "Cohousing," by McCamant and Durrett) in that we are not organized around any particular religious, economic, political, or lifestyle focus, other than our intention to create a neighborhood that by its physical design and social structure facilitates community.
Our community houses 30 families (including singles, couples with and without children, and single parents) in townhouse-style attached homes. Our Common House includes a kitchen, dining room (which also doubles as a meeting room and dance hall for our parties and other events), guest rooms, children's room, and a workshop. Other common space includes a garden, children's play areas, and gathering nodes.
We're a little different than many cohousing communities in that we were required by the city of Cotati to include 6700 square feet of retail space as part of our development. We decided to keep ownership of this retail space as a community. While some of us were wary of developing and owning commercial real estate, it has turned out to be an asset to our own community as well as the city; we now live next door to a handful of small businesses, which are primarily locally-owned (six out of the seven). A few of our community members rent offices in this space.
Community dinners and workdays are a part of our lives. Our key policy decisions are made by consensus, and we meet twice monthly for two-hour business and community development meetings. We were quite fortunate in the early days of our community to have hired a group process consultant to help us through an impasse that our group was stuck on. From that experience, and through further workshops by that consultant, we learned how to run effective meetings, get work done, and deal with conflict -- and have fun in the process.
Our group, in its current incarnation, began meeting in November of 1998 (our group was born out of the ashes of the older Acacia Cohousing Group, which was formed in November of 1994 -- four members of that older group became members of the new one). By spring of 1999 we had a formal membership structure, a clear idea of where we wanted to live and a sense of the tasks in front of us. In January 2000 we found a 2.3 acre parcel of land in downtown Cotati, and put a down payment on it that Spring. On August 8, 2001 we received tentative map approval from the city of Cotati and proceeded with building plans with the assistance of our architect and project manager, the Cohousing Company (Berkeley and Nevada City, CA), and our developer, Wonderland Hill (Boulder, CO). We closed on the land in April 2002 and held our groundbreaking ceremony June 2 of that year. Residents began moving into their new homes in September of 2003; the last family completed their move in on November 29, 2003. We were "full" about two years before we moved in.
HOW WE GOT OUR NAME: Most new residential development projects seemed to us to be bland (and often named after what was there before the bulldozers came, such as “Whispering Meadows,” “Hidden Willows,” etc.). So many of the names we struggled with had that feel to them. At one point, we decided to do what one member, who does salmon restoration work, suggested -- let the land speak for itself (as best it could, given the fact that we did indeed develop on it) after we move in.
Most development destroys at least some habitat; ours was probably no exception. But through one of our goals -- to use the principles of permaculture as best we can in our development -- we created new habitat for local species of frogs, by keeping rainwater on our land (rather than dumping it off into storm sewers). If you visit our website, you will hear the result: hundreds of frogs that now sing us to sleep at night during the winter months, and who peep out here and there throughout the rest of the year. Hence the name Frog Song.
Status: Construction completed, living together
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: : who we are, pictures, plans, some documents
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