October 11, 2019
The vision is becoming a reality.
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A 55+ intentional community for LGBTs, straight friends and allies

Pride and Progress

It is always a pleasure when some of our out-of-town members can visit. We had a very busy weekend at the end of September enhanced by the presence of Nancy, Kim and Carol.

Kim and Carol

Nancy and Eleanor

Pride is always colorful and fun!

Saturday was Durham: Pride--celebrated in September, instead of June, so local students can be involved and to avoid the heat of summer. It was still a hot day, but there was a huge, engaged crowd. Village Hearth has tabled there since 2015, and it’s always fun. Many VHC members helped out and talked ourselves hoarse with attendees curious to learn more about Village Hearth Cohousing. Many thanks to Dona, Nancy, Kim, Carol, Margaret, Pat, Christopher, Allan, Eleanor, Mary, and probably at least one person I’ve overlooked (sorry). It was gratifying to find that most of the people there had heard of cohousing and Village Hearth, a far cry from when we started this journey.

Sunday started with a plenary meeting during which we covered quite a few issues. We are very busy making preliminary decisions about how we will run Village Hearth. Committees are researching and making proposals to the membership. The motto "good enough for now, safe enough to try,"  adopted from Sociocracy, keeps us from getting bogged down. Visitors are always impressed with how well-run our meetings are. The biggest headache is always the technology since we use video-conferencing in order to include our remote members. Balancing the setup so we can all hear is very challenging and never perfect. We appreciate Dona’s willingness to handle it for us.

Cool and quiet inside.

Dona gets an overview of the site.

Next came our Meet & Greet. These meet-ups are usually held twice a month, where interested people are welcome to come out, talk about cohousing in general, and Village Hearth in particular. An RSVP is appreciated but not required. Sometimes we get drop-ins and sometimes it’s just us, but either way, we have a good time. This time several people we met at Pride came by. We hold the meetings at Ricky’s New York Pizza, a neighborhood pizzeria just down the road from our land. They have been good to us as we take over their small dining area and turn down the music/TV. Plus, they make a very tasty pizza.

A visit to the land was the highlight of our day. Construction is moving along rapidly now so there is always something new to see – roofs on, one building has siding, the common house foundation done, and more. It was fascinating to step into one of the homes – with the insulation in place but no sheetrock or windows it is remarkably quiet and much cooler than being outside. The vaulted ceilings make the homes feel spacious and inviting. Everyone checked out their future homes and imagined living in them. Not long now!
Monday was taken up in smaller meetings. The weekend was capped when eleven of us went out to dinner, of course. It was a beautiful evening, and we got an outside table. Wonderful friends, lots of laughter, sharing stories, and good food. That’s what cohousing is about.
PS. All the excess rock has been broken up and removed from the construction site. Goodbye to the ram hoe!
Only a few homes left. Learn more at and call Margaret at 
561-714-8009 or email Pat at 

Meet Barbara

Barbara, our newest member, recently moved to Durham from the Greater Boston area. She has graciously offered to share her bio with us this month. So here’s Barbara.
Born and bred in Baltimore, Maryland, Barbara Keesey thought at an early age that her future lay in either medicine or art (that really reduced things for her to a very narrow lane in life….!)  Since her interests were broad, and her ability in physics somewhat deficient for a pre-med student at Johns Hopkins, she majored in psychology instead. While she was doing work-study in Hopkins Evening College office, a lifelong interest was born in educational programs that promised learning for the sheer joy of it. Married in 1971 to another Hopkins student, she eventually followed him out west and began a series of jobs in adult and community education while living in California. Non-credit programs--which offer ideas, fun, and education to adults who are neither collecting credits nor working to advance vocational ends--have always been her specialty.


Another marriage happened in 1983, this time to a Simkowski, and a son followed in 1984. Jobs moved up over the years until she headed the public school program Newton Community Education, in Newton, Massachusetts. Hundreds of programs, classes, symposia, lecture series, concerts, and fundraisers were created and executed during Barbara’s career in community education. In 2008 she retired from Newton, moved briefly to San Francisco, returned to Boston, and during her first retirement headed ArtSpan, an arts education program of the Munroe Center for the Arts in Lexington, Massachusetts. While there, she created classes, camps, and programs for children, oversaw the production of flyers and catalogs, worked with a diverse staff of artists and teachers, and fulfilled her dream of being closer to the arts. She retired for real in 2016.
Since 2018, Barbara volunteered with Boston’s Friendship Works, a nonprofit program committed to reducing elder isolation and loneliness. Her interest in this subject and in the ways that elders can build community with others makes Village Hearth a perfect fit.
In one of those chance encounters that sometimes lead to momentous change, Barbara met a member of Village Hearth at a party near Boston just as she was selling her home and looking about for a new place to live. When she heard about the plans for this cohousing community in Durham, Barbara started investigating. After two trips to Durham, where she met a unique group of interesting people committed to a vision of community that resonated with her, she decided that this was exactly the kind of group she wanted to join.
Welcome, Barbara!
Did you know?

Introverts make up a significantly higher percent of cohousers than of the general population. It's not intuitive but once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Plus cohousing is especially good for couples where one is an introvert and one is an extrovert.

Aging Out Loud

Village Hearth was invited to send a member to the Aging Out Loud Conference in Lakewood, Washington, (a town near Seattle), presented by the Pierce County, Washington Department of Human Services on Tuesday, September 24. The conference addressed housing for LGBTQ seniors who often feel compelled to return to the closet when entering the standard American options for seniors. It was free for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, their friends, chosen families, and allies who wanted to learn about the issues which impact older LGBTQIA+ adults. More than 100 participants were in attendance, listening to four panels of experts discussing senior housing, long-term care, mental health needs, and estate planning.

Nan was busy at the conference - talking with attendees, running the Village Hearth table, and participating in a panel. 

We were happy to have Nan represent Village Hearth.  Nan was included on the Creating LGBT-Welcoming Senior Housing and Supports Panel, specifically to discuss Village Hearth and other co-housing options.  Others on the panel were: Karyn Skultety from Openhouse in San Francisco; Steven Knipp from GenPride, (Generations Aging with Pride) in Seattle; and Christopher Persons, CEO from Capitol Housing, Seattle.  As opposed to the other speakers and their projects, which are specifically low-income eligible options, Nan discussed housing for people in the audience who were not qualified for low-income housing but who are looking for an alternative to solitary living. Many people in the audience were interested in developing their own LGBTQIA+ co-housing in the Pierce County area, with a few people interested in visiting Village Hearth in the future.  In her spare time, Nan handed out our brochures and talked to attendees visiting the Village Hearth table.

For more information about the Aging Out Loud Conference click here.

What's Blooming in Durham

Fall is wonderful, isn’t it! Many autumn blooming beauties and abundant berries giving lots of color to our landscape. All the plants pictured here are natives, so we still have butterflies (spotted a monarch the other day!), bees and birds enjoying their fruits. 

Pink muhlenbergia

Here’s a great swath of the breathtaking purple (also pink) muhlenbergia, fondly known as purple muhly, contrasted with an adorable little turtlehead.  


A bee in the asters

The lavender of the asters fades a bit in a photo, but I got a fair shot and better color in a close-up of a bee slurping up the nectar and performing his pollinating duty.



The winterberry is a bird favorite so it’s hard to get a picture before the berries are depleted; I lucked out this year. And my beautyberries are coming along nicely, brightening up the garden with their purple wrap-around berry clusters. 

Happy Fall, everyone!


Meet & Greet with Site Visit 

Saturday, October 12, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 26, 2:30 p.m.

Come meet some potential neighbors; 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. 
Ricky’s NY Pizza, 5279 N Roxboro Rd, Durham, NC 27712

Other site visit times available by appointment. Email

PS: Ricky's makes good pizza. We should call it Meet & Greet & Eat.

Happy Hour

Beat the Monday Blues

Monday, October 28, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Sure; you can come out on a school night...Come hang out with the cool kids and find out what we’re all about! Raise a glass or have an early dinner. We want to meet YOU!

Carolina Ale House 
3911 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd 
Durham, NC 27707

Links to Articles Posted to VHC’s Facebook Page

Each month, you’ll find articles of interest posted on our Facebook page. Here are some recent posts. Just click the titles to take you to the articles.

This month Village Hearth was fortunate to appear in several publications.
Rainbow Community for Elder Queers
"Queer seniors often face more barriers to community as they age, and some are known to go back in the closet for fear of hatred or discrimination in healthcare and nursing facilities, according to Village Hearth. This is why building a rainbow dream community is not only desired but so necessary."
From cohabitation to cohousing: Older baby boomers create living arrangements to suit new needs
"A major reason that people choose to move to a shared housing community is social engagement. This is a critical issue since 1 in 3 people over age 45 are lonely. Being part of a community that offers mutual support has a positive impact on health status, connection and quality of life during later years.

"The residents we interviewed reported that they enjoy the common activities, such as shared meals, parties, and discussion groups, along with the opportunity for spontaneous interactions. Caring relationships develop among the residents, and many described the support received after major events such as a hospitalization or significant loss, and also for smaller tasks such as a ride to the airport or pet sitting.

"In addition, being a source of assistance was important and engendered feelings of being worthwhile and needed. However, those interviewed were also clear that there is a difference between offering assistance and being a caregiver for others, which was not a role that people expected within the shared communities."
Offering Community and Connection in the Age of Separation
"I am currently producing a film on cohousing, featuring Durrett and four communities in the Sacramento area. With National Emmy-winning photographer Doug Stanley, of “America’s Deadliest Catch” fame, I visited Muir Commons recently. Two of the original residents, Jane McKendry and Laurie Friedman, showed us around. Old photos of Muir Commons under construction show a place devoid of greenery, but after 28 years the homes are almost invisible behind the lush canopy of trees, shrubs and flowers that offers welcome shade and saves on air conditioning in Davis’ steamy summer climate, where temperatures sometimes hit 110 degrees. Lines of bicycles, the Davis staple, can be seen throughout the community. McKendry and Friedman showed us the orchard, which provides fruit for the entire community, and the small but robust garden plot. And with her husband, Ray, McKendry played a mean folk guitar for us; many residents, she said, have similar skills that they share freely with others."

We look forward to seeing this documentary. Hopefully it will familiarize more people with the concept of cohousing.
To learn more about Village Hearth Cohousing, phone Margaret at 561-714-8009 or follow the links below.
Copyright © 2019 Village Hearth Cohousing, All rights reserved.

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