May 31, 2019
Next Introductory Meeting: Saturday, June 8
Just One Home Left!
common house
The Common House at Nevada City Cohousing

The Commons: Cohousing as Modern Village
One of the essential components of all cohousing communities is the large Common House, owned in equal shares by all members of the community. Sometimes called the “hub,” or the “heart” of the community, the Common House is the central gathering place, where residents come together to share meals, enjoy a concert, book group discussion, or craft workshop, etc.

It is also a place designed to facilitate casual, unplanned everyday encounters. When residents go to the Common House to pick up mail or do laundry, they are likely to run into a neighbor or two and stop to chat or exchange news. Over time, many, many such small, impromptu interactions build connections and community.

The idea of a shared ‘common’ space at the center of a community is hardly new. In Europe, prior to the 15th century, small farmers living in rural villages shared access to the adjacent fields, forests, and pasture lands-the “Commons.” Everyone living in the village could use the Commons to graze their cattle, harvest crops, or cut firewood.

As Raj Patel explains in his excellent book  The Value of Nothing :

A commons is a resource, most often land, and refers both to the territory and to the ways people allocate the goods that come from that land. The commons has traditionally provided food, fuel, water, and medicinal plants for those who used it—it was the poorest people’s life-support system.   

Even the village artisans-the spinners, weavers, and blacksmiths- were given rights, to pasture one cow and collect firewood, because the villagers relied on the goods they produced. The interdependency created by sharing resources was also associated with self-governance, in the form of the village cooperative, which established and enforced rules for the use of the Commons.

The Commons and the village cooperatives started disappearing in the 15th century when wealthy landowners began claiming and enclosing as “private property” the land that had previously been open to all.

In a number of ways, cohousing hearkens back to the older idea of “the Commons. Cohousing communities often evoke the image of a village, with small individual homes clustered around a shared green space; with generous shared resources, including the common house and the community gardens and/or orchard. And like the village cooperatives, cohousing communities are self-governing, usually by consensus, with every household having a vote.  

The link between resource-sharing and the egalitarian and cooperative culture of the village-and cohousing- is an intriguing one. For more on the history of the commons, click on the link below:

Chairs, Chairs, Chairs!

Fair Oaks Ecohousing recently completed a months long search for the best stacking chairs we could find for our Common House great room. Our search took us all over the internet, to local retailers of office furniture in the Sacramento area, and as far away as San Jose to meet with a CraigsList seller. We also held a "sit-in" at a community meeting to give all our members a chance to test the comfort of our top candidates. Along the way, the Chair Search team learned a few things, some especially applicable to cohousing groups, others to anyone shopping for stacking chairs-or other furniture.

Here are a few of the things we learned.

  • Define your criteria as fully and specifically as possible: What do you need the chairs to do? Who will use them and for what purpose? In our case, we were looking for stacking chairs that are comfortable, sturdy, not too heavy to lift, as environmentally friendly as possible, and affordable (under $100).

  • Think outside the box: We started out looking at large online retailers of new office, school, and restaurant supplies and ended up shopping for secondhand chairs, in excellent condition and about one third the cost of new, at a used furniture store in our neighborhood.

  • Check your assumptions: Some of us ruled out chairs made with plastic components as inconsistent with our values as an 'ecohousing' community. But we were pleased to discover that some plastic chair manufacturers are using up to 99% recycled materials that are also low VOC and eligible for LEEDS credits.

  • Consider the environment: our chairs will be used on bamboo floors. So we also had to think about protecting the wood from scratches. We are currently collecting an array of candidates for floor protectors-those silicone or felt caps for the bottom of the chair legs.

  • Read the fine print: One popular chair had a lifetime warranty-Wow! Turned out that was for the frame only; the seat and back were only covered for three years and were not replaceable.

  • Solicit input from all end users: everyone who would be sitting in the chairs for long meetings or meals had a chance to vote on the chairs. We used ranked choice voting and still wound up with a split decision-a tie between the Steelcase Move chairs--only available in mixed colors- and SitOnIt's Rio chair in white. So we will have a rainbow of seats available in the dining room-blue, yellow, white or green--some with padding, some without.
Introduction to Fair Oaks EcoHousing
Saturday, June 8, at 10:30am

Fair Oaks EcoHousing is a neighborhood of 30 homes on 3.7 acres in Fair Oaks, CA, 18 miles east of downtown Sacramento. Come see the site and our architectural plans, and meet members at an upcoming cohousing informational meeting. Kids are welcome.

Act now! Fair Oaks EcoHousing has only one home left, but we are taking names for our waiting list for all other floor plans. If you are interested, please come to the informational meeting and site overlook. Other h omes do become available on occasion. If you like what you hear at the meeting, please join our interest list to be notified of new availability.

To attend the Introduction to Fair Oaks EcoHousing, meet at 10:30 am at the Fair Oaks Coffeehouse in Fair Oaks Village, at 10223 Fair Oaks Blvd , at the intersection with Park Drive. Look for us on the side of the Coffeehouse, in the patio area or in the building at the back. We will introduce you to the project and then we can carpool to the site, where we will be able to overlook the construction of our new community.

The event will last about an hour and a half, with an optional lunch afterwards at the Siam Patio Restaurant or the Smokey Oaks Tavern. If you can't make it on the 11th, the next meeting is Sunday, June 23. Please RSVP below. Thanks!
Be Part of Our Community:
Just One Home Left!
As construction progresses on our project, Fair Oaks EcoHousing has only one home left. Call now to learn about cohousing, observe the site and reserve our last available home-a spacious 2-story 4 bedroom townhome. Note: I f you are interested in a different floor plan, please contact us so we can add you to the Waitlist and call you when your preferred size home is available.    We recommend that you come to an Introductory Meeting, if you haven’t done that already.

Key features for all include:
Large windows, allowing natural light to penetrate deep into the home and make rooms feel light and spacious
• Open design for living and dining areas, providing more space and flexibility in use
• Modern kitchen with ample storage and counter space
• Porch or deck for visiting with neighbors

The 4 bedroom townhome includes:
• Spacious upstairs master bedroom with a full master bath and walk-through closet
First-floor bedroom, perfect for a home office, an aging family member, or single-floor downstairs living
Large wrap-around porch that provides roomy outdoor living space

Like all homes in Fair Oaks EcoHousing, these homes are designed for energy efficient living, with eco-friendly construction and high-quality fixtures and finishes.

Fair Oaks EcoHousing is a pedestrian-friendly village for residents of all ages, with a centrally-located clubhouse, pool and spa, and garden. 

The location is close to Fair Oaks Village and the American River Parkway, with many nearby dining and entertainment options, plus easy access to the freeway.
Want to Learn More About Fair Oaks & Sacramento?