From April until the present has been nonstop for Hope Family Village.
On April 19 – 23, this villager was in Boulder, CO for the Western Region Cohousing Conference. I met many startup communities like ours; learned from cohousing architects and developers; and visited four different communities in the area. We were there to find out what it really takes to develop a community. In short, a lot of hard work by committed families.
The board of directors, along with our founding families, are in a learning mode. Taking Cohousing 101 seemed the most natural of first steps. The session on Marketing, though, was also very informative. Director Lisa Thomas, recently retired from an Williamsburg icon nonprofit, CDR, will be attending the Amherst, MA conference.
In August, Parade Magazine covered How America Lives: Creating Housing for Boomers, Veterans, Millennials, and More. We are the More. A MUST READ.
On returning, we had our board meeting, April 28th, then I was off on a 2-day visit to Virginia cohousing communities, Elderspirit in Abingdon, VA and Shadowlake Village in Blacksburg, VA. For different reasons, spending one-on-one time with members of both these communities and reviewing their layout was incredibly helpful. Elderspirit is a 55 and older community, located on a 3 acre plot, borders a gorgeous park and trail. Shadowlake is on a larger piece of wooded property, around 30 acres, and has younger families. In both instances, the communities completely understood our mission and had experience in caregiving for people with a mental health diagnosis. The heart of both communities is the common home. Mail, meals, and activities can be shared here.
In May, we concerned ourselves with the Virginia State Budget. An milestone for us, Hope Family Village Corporation was specifically named for a co-located project at Eastern State surplus property (400 acres). The two other projects are behavioral health and medical/dental services. James City County (JCC) leads the effort. We will be part of a comprehensive planning and rezoning effort. Several directors had a meeting with JCC officials to define our project and needs. Our plan is to develop one project for 25 families. The community will feature at least one Fairweather Lodge.
NAMI Virginia held their Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting in Richmond, VA in June. We offered a short workshop on our concept. Only, we presented from the vantage point of creating community. How would families go about taking care of one another? We handed out fliers about the project and picked up the names of interested families. We expect to draw families from outside the Williamsburg area.
In July, Bill McHenry, Lodge Coordinator for New Visions, Inc. (PA), George Duke (MD), retired commercial and industrial development investor, and Van Black (FLA) our intrepid supporter came to Williamsburg. We walked the Eastern State property; participated in a lodge meeting together; and met other potential partners in our project (e.g., House of Mercy).
Was August any slower? Yes. It was summer. We did manage our monthly family dinner. We are gradually sharing our story with more and more people.
Next up, while Lisa is in Amherst for the Cohousing Workshop and Conference, I will be in Minneapolis or the Coalition for Community Living Conference and Annual Meeting this month. Will be visiting Fairweather Lodges and a architect of eco-villages.
We know we are on a long road, but we will get there. 8.4 million caregiving families, just like ours, are counting on us.
Anyone who is interested in the community, please contact W. Corey Trench at firstname.lastname@example.org