Buffalo Commons Village: Enthusiastic response to cohousing concept

There was an overflow crowd of interested, energized folks at Wednesday evening’s cohousing exploratory meeting at the Northfield Public Library. buffalo.jpgAbout 35 to 40 mostly local attendees put up with my presentation, then discussed whether a local cohousing project on land adjacent to the Northfield city limits should be explored further. By evening’s end, 15 households agreed they were serious about the possibility of moving into this proposed community within the next three years, and wanted to meet further to move the process forward.

We heard from several voices of experience. Joelyn Malone, a founding member of Minnesota’s first cohousing community, Monterey Cohousing Community in St. Louis Park, and her new business (Cohousing Advocates) assisting new groups developing cohousing projects. Linda Erlandson Frost of Northfield also talked a bit about her experiences as a founding member of Westwood Cohousing in Asheville, North Carolina. Northfield’s Karen Olson also talked movingly about growing up as a child in an intentional community, her experience exploring cohousing in Montana, and her interest in being involved in a tight-knit cohousing community in the Northfield area.

I was THRILLED with the turnout and the level of interest and energy in the group! While a long, arduous trail must be traveled to complete such a project, the first hurdles have already been cleared: a group of interested, apparently committed folks has come together, and a site has been identified.

The next steps will be a walking tour of the 21-acre site. Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to take a look at the presentation from the meeting, contact me, and/or join us for a tour of the property next Wednesday, May 7th at 6:30 pm or Saturday, May 10th at 1:00 pm. We will meet at the end of the driveway at 32991 Dresden Avenue, Northfield, for a walk around the property, rain or shine (dress appropriately–it could be muddy). The journey begins!


  1. Eric Bergh
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Nice presentation Bruce! Great work spearheading this idea. Nice energy in the room and good people.

  2. Posted May 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the kind words, interest and support, Eric. I too thought the energy was good, and the people interested and interesting.

  3. Karen Olson
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Bruce,
    Thanks again for your efforts to make this meeting happen! I am marveling at the potential here with so many probable hurdles already avoided by having a terrific piece of available property, your expertise in communications and organizing, not to mention a room full of genuinely interested folks. WOW!
    Just wondering if you are going to put dates and times out for the next 6 meetings or if you plan to set them with others? I would like to mention that the coop meeting space is available free of charge for non-profit groups and is easier to book than the library. I would also propose that we consider child care early on in our meeting plans so families can attend, in which case churches tend to work better.
    I offer my assistance in planning and if you would like.
    See you tomorrow on the land!

  4. Christine Sartor
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Bruce for walking the land with us today–I loved the rolling hills of the property and it is so close to town. I also liked the idea of the land lay-out–parking first, community buildings, then houses, though, I understand that the hopes and dreams of all will be decided by consensus.

    Because I missed the initial meeting due to a sick child, I missed the entire discussion about the land. I’m starting from ground zero here, so, I am wondering if you will fill me in on how you came about the property, is it already a “done deal”, is the current owner of the land interested in co-housing, and whether other sites have been/will be considered.

    I also want to propose that we consider child care early on so families can attend co-housing meetings, as Karen kindly proposed above. Maybe the Unitarian Church is available for meetings? I would also ask that we consider some kid-friendly days/times for meetings and potlucks.

    CottageLiving.com has an article on a “cottage neighborhood” this month that may be of interest to folks.

    Also, Natural Home has lots of great articles on co-housing that I have been saving over the years. If we don’t already have those in our folder, then, I will bring them along.

    Please add me to the co-housing mailing list and thanks! for your contributions to this effort already. Wow!

    Peace, Christine

  5. Kaaren Williamsen-Garvey
    Posted May 19, 2008 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I also had to miss the first meeting, but would love to be on a mailing list and know about the upcoming meetings. Thanks to everyone for getting the idea this far!


  6. Posted May 19, 2008 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Please e-mail me — bruce (at) sustainablecommunitysolutions.com — and I’ll add you to our list.

    We are having a get-to-know-each-other-better potluck tomorrow evening (6:00 pm) at my house (501 St. Olaf Ave.). Come if you can!

  7. Posted July 14, 2008 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Fantastic! I’ve been involved in co-housing projects around the country for the past ten years. The Co-housing Advocates are really spreading the word.

    I’m working on a co-housing cooperative on the doorstep of Minneapolis. The property has been secured and we’re looking to form an advisory site council to structure the Board, By-Laws, and the like.

    Certainly, some of our members will find the Buffalo initiative exciting. Perhaps there will be opportunities to partner on projects.

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