Friday, March 19, 2010

The Commons on the Alameda

Our time in Santa Fe has been made most enjoyable and interesting by the wonderful people that we're meeting. Our current visit to The Commons on the Alameda (an adobe-style cohousing community located within the city limits of Santa Fe) is just one example of how hospitable and gracious people in "The City Different" can be.  

Arriving for dinner last night, we were welcomed with open arms by numerous Commons residents, and we were immediately struck by the positive energy and openness of so many of the people who were present for the community meal which occurs twice per week. Vegans and omnivores alike were happy with the evening's delicious culinary offerings served family style, and there was a great deal of lively conversation around the half-dozen tables laden with dishes and food. 

We were very pleased and heartened to learn that the community has championed a green lifestyle, with the common house being 100% fragrance-free in order to accommodate residents with chemical sensitivities. Using zero-VOC paints and fragrance-free/eco-friendly cleaning and lawn products, the community strives to walk its talk vis-a-vis living a sustainable and green lifestyle (including rain-water catchment, solar energy and some aspects of permaculture), and no one is allowed to use fragranced dryer sheets or other products that might have deleterious health effects. Guests must also adhere to the fragrance-free rule, something that is, of course, second nature to these two canaries living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Mary was twice moved to tears by this amazing awareness and active accommodation of the chemically injured. This aspect of life at The Commons was championed by an environmental health physician who lives here in the community and has dedicated herself to making sure that The Commons be an oasis for the chemically injured as well as a healthy and sustainable community for all. 

Unlike a number of communities we have visited, we were invited into several members' homes within hours of our arrival. After dinner, we viewed a casita that will be available for rent from May through October, and were also invited into the home of Alice Kahn, a very famous psychotherapist who was the co-author of The G-Spot, a ground-breaking book published in 1982. 

This morning we were invited for a delicious breakfast of homemade organic scones and coffee at the lovely home of our hosts here at The Commons, further cementing in our minds the graciousness and kindness that seems part and parcel of life here. When we returned to our rig at the end of day, there was a note taped to our door inviting us for popcorn and a warm fire, an invitation which we delightedly accepted without hesitation while Tina was cared for by a young neighbor across the way. 

Although The Commons is somewhat urban, with the obvious hum of nearby traffic at rush hour, it offers a pedestrian village environment coupled with charming people who live an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. The river bordering the community offers trails for hiking and biking, and The Commons collaborates with a neighboring cohousing community for gardening and a goat-milking cooperative. The fact that The Commons can achieve this here in the center of Santa Fe is both heartening and encouraging, and whether we rent a casita temporarily or not, it paints a picture of what we are looking for. Visiting here breaths renewed life into our search, allowing us yet another glimpse of how community can be done so very well. The hospitality and graciousness of the residents of The Commons is unparalleled in comparison to any of the other seventeen communities we have visited (with the exception of Common Ground in Lexington, Virginia). 

Our interest in cohousing has been minimal so far since we had made some assumptions about this form of intentional community from previous experiences, but The Commons demonstrates that cohousing can offer a vibrant and robust shared way of life. This community in particular has organized itself so that many residents have small casitas attached to their homes which are frequently available as rentals, meaning that individuals or families without the interest or means to purchase a home can still be a part of the community. This appeals to us greatly and changes our view of the cohousing model in general, opening our eyes to the many possibilities that it engenders. 

In our perfect world, The Commons would be about five or ten miles outside of town, allowing for a more rural feel and less traffic and congestion. However, even though it might be considered an "urban" community, The Commons borders a small river and there are several small farms nearby with horses, gardens and open space. Santa Fe is a capital city whose edges merge with the countryside in surprising ways, and despite the traffic on the major thoroughfares through town, it is a very simple thing to drive out of town into rural areas in a matter of minutes. 

We offer our sincerest gratitude to the folks of The Commons on the Alameda, and it seems that we may need to return in order to further explore the potential for relationship with the incredibly giving and generous members of this very special corner of Santa Fe. 

1 comment:

  1. So exciting that this community has so much to offer in the areas you are needing! Love Janice