Hello MoCoCo Followers!
It has been 11 months since our family moved into the Monterey Co-Op Community Housing and our lives have been enriched in so many ways.
Our first Fall at MoCoCo was so beautiful. As the Earth was preparing to sleep through our long Minnesota winter, we prepared for our first Fall at MoCoCo. The colors on our land were so vivid and bright and our community was filled with celebration as the last of the organic garden harvests came in.
One of our first experiences was hosting an open house at MoCoCo where we got to know our surrounding community. While we met many of our surrounding neighbors, I got to watch my daughter revel in the warm Fall weather as she built new relationships with our new MoCoCo Family. Our (now) new neighbors, Leila and Max brought their apple press for us to use and we made fresh apple cider to share!
One of my favorite spots at MoCoCo is the Hammock. If you just need some quiet, you can go relax with a book while listening to the wind ruffling through the trees. But, its also a place of community. My daughter loves spending time in the giant Hammock with our MoCoCo Family, and it has become a place of fellowship for us.
Denise, Ken in Hammock
Soon, the snow fell, and our land became quiet as the Earth went to sleep. Suddenly, many of our activities moved inside. My favorite evenings included dinner by the fireplace, and falling asleep next to my daughter in the large living room as the fire died down. Fireplaces became the new Hammock and a place for our MoCoCo community to come together. The snow also offered my daughter a chance to be a helpful member of our community when shoveling was needed.
Another new experience for us was culturally. Being Jewish, my daughter had never experienced Christmas traditions. She was so excited to offer her help around MoCoCo when neighbors put up their Christmas decorations. It gave her a beautiful opportunity to bond with the adults in our community while she learned about other cultures and what traditions came with them.
My personal favorite memory was when we had a snowstorm of historic proportions this past April. We were snowed in for almost 3 days, and on one evening, a good portion of the MoCoCo community ended up in our apartment. At one point, someone was cooking dinner for everyone, the children were being bathed in our two bathtubs, and most everyone was getting makeovers circa 1970. Everyone was at home because we were all snowed-in together.
Eventually, after a very long winter, the snow melted, and green returned to the land of MoCoCo! Albeit a bit late in the season, the flowers began to bloom and the organizing of our Organic Garden plots began.
We have never had our very own land to grow food on, but we have been determined and ready to learn from scratch as a family. Soon we were prepping the soil, planting our vegetables, and learning about companion planting. We have been so blessed to be surrounded by such a knowledgable community to guide us as we learn a new life skill. I’ve been bestowed the nickname “Farmer Mir” and our early morning routine often includes watering our plants while “Baby Farmer” sings to all of our plants.
This spring we’ve also picked up our life-goals of becoming a more Earth-Friendly family. We started by composting all of our organics, and have cut down our garbage output to approximately one bag of garbage a week. (We were at 2-3 bags of garbage pre-compost!) At MoCoCo, we also turn that compost into nutrition for our organic garden, essentially recycling all of our own composted organics.
One of our Neighbors, Jane, has also inspired us to recycle by sewing her own line of dresses from thrifted t-shirts and recycled fabric. She is incredibly talented and is able to make a living off of her pieces. Both my daughter and I were lucky enough to be a model for her! (You can find Jane’s work at @janiettepostindustrial on twitter!)
Our community also invested in an electric, rechargeable battery-run lawnmower. Because its electric, it cuts down on the dirty exhaust that normal, small gasoline engines produce. It also cuts down on the noise level and because its self-propelled, its super easy to use. Our neighbor Susan, got to take our electric mower for its inaugural run in our courtyard.
Many Hands Make Light Work
While we’re on the topic of chores, one very nice thing about living in a CoHousing Community is that we all help each other out with projects and upkeep of our property. We have a few work-days scheduled a year to tackle big items (i.e. painting, yard work, cleaning, minor repairs, etc.) The best thing about this, as a parent, is my daughter has the opportunity to help out and contribute as a member of our community. Sometimes it might take a little longer to complete a task, but seeing how excited she gets to help and be valued makes the extra few minutes worth it.
Outside of the four seasons, one of the things we have loved the most are the beautiful Sunrises and Sunsets. I feel deep gratitude for living on the edge of the City, but tucked enough away that we can still experience nature in a peaceful way. Our apartment has a perfectly placed,west-facing window. At night I will often curl-up with my daughter in one of our green, craigslist up-cycled wingback chairs, and watch the sun set over the trees as we sip some mint tea.
There is always someone to hold a baby
Being a community, we often have little visitors at our community events and community dinners. While we do have a kids room for children to play in, sometimes little ones just really want to be held. One thing we definitely don’t have a shortage of is open arms.
Piano Lessons Come to You
Yes, you read that right! Another convenience of living in Community Housing is that my daughter’s piano teacher, who lives right across our courtyard, comes to our home for piano lessons. As a very busy musician myself, this makes it SO EASY to get her piano lesson in without having to chase across town during rush hour in a blizzard.
Access to Creativity
Another thing I have appreciated the past 11 months is the access my daughter has to enrich her creative side. When its our neighbor Peter’s turn to cook community dinner, he often breaks out the Karaoke, and sometimes everyone ends up singing together. My child has also had a chance to discover painting, and while she generally needs a bath afterwards, she is encouraged to discover her own creative process.
We also have many friends who are artists, and if you follow our Instagram (@mococo_in_the_park), you know that we are lucky enough to have a Peace Orb on loan in our front lawn from Artist Jess, Designed by Gregg Fleischmann. Another MoCoCo friend, Karin, is a Fire Performer Artist. Yes, you read that right! We were very lucky to have her perform on our lawn on the most beautiful evening we got here in Minnesota in October. Karin also performs with Northern Fire Dynamic, which is a Minnesota based, Midwest inclusive fire performance group. (Facebook page is HERE!)
I knew we were making a wise choice when we chose to live in an intentional community. It has left my heart with so much gratitude for the enriched life we are living. Watching my daughter grow and develop in such a unique environment has been a pleasure for me and I’ve come to understand how isolated life for us would have been had we chosen to move into a single family house in the suburbs.
We’ve got some BIG NEWS coming soon! Stay Tuned.