Last weekend’s NE Summit kicked off with a day of pre-conference intensive workshops hosted by Pioneer Valley Cohousing in their common house. We filled every room with 2 full day and 7 half day workshops. We were greeted by cohousing in action with community members on hand to welcome us while others were working to maintain their community or going about their daily lives.
Friday evening we gathered at the UMass Student Center for snacks and a public presentation by Laura Fitch. She explained the basics of cohousing and guided us through the many benefits of community living. It was a great introduction for those who are new and a fabulous reminder of why cohousers have chosen to live this way for decades.
Saturday was conference fun and learning all day. Over a continental breakfast Mary Kraus reminded us of the changes to the cohousing movement over the last 20 years. Storyteller John Porchino regaled us with stories, jokes and language play. The laughter launched a full day of conference sessions covering everything from growing your group to getting the work done once you move in. Cultural diversity, farming and community process topics were covered as well.
Over lunch we were given an update on The Cohousing Association of the US and appreciation of the conference team. We were reminded of the great work CohoUS does to support the cohousing movement, educate communities, facilitate connection and spread the word on how cohousing makes the world a better place. As this work expands, community and individual donations are needed to keep pace with the growth of the movement, including updating and expanding our cohousing.org website.
After a day of hard work, Pioneer Valley Cohousing invited us back for a BBQ dinner and an invitation to kick up our heals on the dance floor. A good time was had by all.
As grateful as we are for the work of our conference committee to create this wonderful program, perhaps the most important things that happened were brought by the participants. You brought your stories, your frustrations and your joys and shared them openly. You filled the rooms with hugs and laughter. You greeted old friends and made new ones. You connected the ideas presented to the realities on the ground of forming and living cohousing and took them back to your communities to bring them to life.
Thanks to all who made the 2018 NE Summit a joyful event. You’ve proven once again that there is power in community and joy in connection. We’re looking forward to seeing you again in Portland, Oregon for the national conference next May.