A 55+ intentional community for LGBTs, straight friends and allies
Regardless of the amount of rock encountered and the fact we are “74 days above normal” for rain (as of the end of May), we are moving ahead! This is evidenced by the fact we have four porta-potties, required by code because we now have three different subcontractors on site: plumbers, concrete finishers and earth movers. This week the plumbers will finish six of the eight buildings so that concrete can be poured. The water line is complete and tested to the fire hydrant. Our storm sewer has been connected from the main line on Buttonbush Road to our property line (about 70 feet). Piping has been laid to the pond awaiting the drainage structure to be put into place.
Getting ready to pour concrete
As we begin work on the sanitary sewer, we are still meeting hard rock and using the ram hoe is slow and expensive work. Unfortunately, dynamite is not an option due to the proximity of other homes.
Looks pretty boring, doesn't it? We felt the same in our previous lives, but now the sight of pipes ready to be buried 10' deep for water and sewer is exciting!
Jeremy from Resolute Building Company explains what is going on.
Our architects will be here at the end of July to view the site and to meet with the Membership. By that time, we should have all concrete pads poured and at least one building fully framed awaiting inspection.
Even the arrival of porta-potties is a cause for celebration by Linda, Patricia and Eleanor.
We have also been very fortunate to receive some good press lately.
Developing a cohousing community takes more than physical buildings. We have also been busy working on our social agreements - community meals, pet policy, landscaping, communication, governance and more. We have also been getting together for fun, meals, marketing and work, all of which has been building the bonds among us. Last month, we said hello to two households and goodbye to one (a normal part of the forming process but still it is sad to see someone leave with whom we have become friends).
Trying to take a group photo can be like herding cats.
We had a two-day workshop on Conflict Resolution and Facilitation with Laird Schaub, who brings a wealth of experience living in community. Several of our out-of-town members attended. Though we use Zoom so they can attend meetings, it is always a treat to see them in person. The workshop was outstanding, including some real-demonstrations of his methods, a lot of sharing and new insights. Some of it was emotionally challenging but very productive, and we left feeling like we knew each other much better and can't wait to move in together.
The big porches at Village Hearth convinced me that it is the right place for me. The nostalgia over the “C” unit wraparound porch literally hit me in the face.
I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, the third of four children. Both of my parents were raised in the hills of Eastern Kentucky in the middle of coal country. My father was born in a large rambling farmhouse, as were his six brothers and sisters. It was at this same farmhouse, with its big wraparound porch, where we vacationed every summer with his parents and with any other aunts, uncles, or cousins who were visiting at the time. We gathered eggs, helped string beans and visited the one pig and cow. If we made it to the barn early enough, Grandad might squirt warm milk into our mouths. My younger sister enjoyed scratching the pig’s back with a corn cob. The pig liked it, too.
During the day, we often climbed the hill behind the house or swung on one of two porch swings. Grandad kept bees, so there was always a gallon jar of honey, on the comb, in the middle of the huge dining room table. Grandma made fresh biscuits and gravy for breakfast every day. The ham and bacon were from the last pig who lived in the barn. Sometimes there were so many of us visiting that we had to eat in shifts.
There was an apple orchard directly behind the barn, a smokehouse in the side yard. An ample garden took up the rest of the “bottom” land. Time spent at the farm was idyllic. At night we would gaze at the stars while listening to crickets and frogs sing their songs. At bedtime, there were often so many cousins that three or four of us were piled into each bed (there were four of them) in the attic bedrooms.
I earned my degree in Elementary Education at Wright State University, which was then a commuter college attended primarily by retired military and housewives. During this time I married my high school sweetheart. We moved to Louisville, KY, after he received a scholarship at the University of Louisville’s Law School. The marriage was short-lived. He moved away after graduating and I stayed in Louisville. It was home.
I earned my Masters Degree at U of L with a specialty in reading and worked for several years as a reading specialist, first teaching remedial reading, then as a resource to several middle and high schools. I was next a trainer with the school district and earned my certification in supervision and administration at U of L. Then I applied for, and received, a position as an elementary school principal, a position I kept the remainder of my career. After retiring, I continued to work for the school system on a part-time basis in various capacities.
Always interested in nature and in artistic endeavors, I kept a sketch pad as I was growing up. Toward the end of my career, I took drawing classes, then classes in oil and pastel. My favorite medium is pastel as I love color and the immediacy of results in pastel. I consider myself an amateur painter and a hobbyist. The paintings I create are primarily for my own enjoyment and to share with others. For the last several years I have been attending a painting open studio on Tuesdays. We are a close-knit group and both support and critique one another’s work.
Kris, my life partner of 28 years, was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. When I lost her to that cancer in 2010, I started volunteering for Friend for Life. It is a cancer support organization that pairs someone with cancer, or their caregiver, with another person who has gone through the same, or similar experience.
Other organizations I have volunteered for are the Louisville animal shelter, No Kill Louisville, and the new (under construction) Waterfront Botanical Gardens. I am also a member of the Louisville chapter of Zonta, an international organization of professional women whose mission is to “raise the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy.”
Animals have always been an important part of my life. Growing up, we had, at various times, a dog, a cat, a parakeet (who liked to travel on the rim of my Mother’s glasses and enjoyed nestling in her apron pocket) and a squirrel named Tommy. I now share my home with three rescue dogs and a rescue cat. Bird feeders are placed immediately outside my kitchen window where I can view the drama of multiple types of birds fighting for a place at the feeder, mothers feeding babies, etc. Every spring I anxiously await the hummingbirds returning.
I enjoy light gardening, reading, traveling, walking in nature, plays, concerts, going to dinner with friends, conversation, working with my trainer twice a week at the gym and U of L women’s basketball.
After almost 50 years in Louisville, it is time for me to move on. I stumbled on Village Hearth looking online for LGBT-friendly retirement communities and decided it was for me. I love the diversity of my fellow community members and am looking forward to sharing my life with so many people who have a love of the land, who want to leave a small footprint on this earth and who are dedicated to aging in place, in community.
At Village Hearth, we will have a vegetable garden, maybe raise chickens. At night I will gaze at the stars, watch fireflies, listen to the frogs and crickets. And my home in Village Hearth will have a wraparound porch similar to the one at my grandparents’ home in Eastern Kentucky. I can’t wait to hang my porch swing!
Black and blues have been blooming as have the lovely, bright orange butterfly weed. Ben, our native plant landscaping consultant, saw some delicate little blue-eyed grasses on the land, so we already have them! And they are amazingly long blooming.
Black and blues
We will have some of these startlingly yellow Sunburst Hypericum (St John’s wort) bushes decorating our parking lots - a native that butterflies and bees love. Pretty, delicate yellow coreopsis is another native - I’ve seen goldfinches enjoying the seeds in fall. Bee balm also attracts bees and butterflies - and hummingbirds as well, and it will spread nicely. This little group of native cardinal flower and black-eyed Susans is just now starting to bloom; if you look closely you can see a little cluster of purple phlox peeping out through their foliage.
Cardinal flowers and black-eyed Susans
Summer may be hot, but as long as we get enough rain, the flowers are plentiful and bring the outdoors to life!
Last year I moved from Georgia to Durham to be more involved in the last stage in the creation of Village Hearth. In the meantime, I'm living in a nice apartment complex. There has been some interesting bird life here. Bluebirds decided to nest in one of the doggy poop bag dispensers and successfully fledged their brood two weeks ago. The cacophony of birdsong in the evening turned out to be one exuberant mockingbird! Ducks and geese stopped at the large retention pond during their northward migration. A few decided to hang around. I even saw a heron early one morning. It is a pleasure to listen to bass bullfrogs, staccato peepers and everything in between play the evening frog concert against a background insect hum. Toads and turtles thrive as well. My future home will overlook the Village Hearth retention pond, and I look forward to the wildlife it will attract.
The Village Hearth landscape circle is planning pollinator-friendly plantings in our gardens and meadows, and one of our members is interested in beekeeping.
Pride in the Triangle
Durham is the host for the North Carolina Pride Parade celebrated in September, but there was lots going on in June as well. One highlight was "Quiet No More: a Choral Celebration of Stonewall." Several of us attended the performance by the combined voices of three local gay men's and women's choruses. Commissioned by the Gay Men's Chorus of New York and composed by eight gay composers, it was performed all around the US, culminating in a Carnegie Hall concert with 600 voices. If you get a chance, don't miss it.
All aboard the fabulous Pride Trolley!
Jess leads the tour
VHC member Jane's daughter Jess lives in Raleigh and works for the park department. She created an LGBT history tour of Raleigh on a trolley bus. Linda took the tour (did you know Armistead Maupin grew up in Raleigh?) and reports that Jess did a great job. Hopefully, she will do it again next June.
Cohousing is all about community.
Meet & Greet with Site Visit
Saturday, July 13, 2:30 p.m.
See who your future neighbors might be; after all, cohousing is all about the people! View the floor plans and color renderings of our new homes. Have a beverage or a bite to support this welcoming locally-owned restaurant. Then we’ll head on down the road to tour our land if the construction crews aren't working. Closed shoes and liability waiver are required for a site visit.
“Pride is not living in the shadows, but being you in your best form.” - Helena Cragg, founder of the LGBTQ Center of Durham
Earlier this month, we were humbled by the opportunity to sit down with a few members of the LGBTQ community in our city as they shared how creativity and self-expression have fueled their personal journeys. We are honored to now be able to share their stories with you. Get to know these incredible people even better, on the blog >> http://bit.ly/2X3amAy"
To learn more about Village Hearth Cohousing, phone Margaret at 561-714-8009 or follow the links below.