capitol hill urban cohousing

Notes From the Field: CHUC

Last week, Guy and I did a walk-through of CHUC: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing. Some quick background--this is a mixed use building with ground level commercial space to become Schemata Workshop’s new home and nine residential units above. But don’t be fooled: this isn’t your average four-over-one. Nine families joined together to self-develop CHUC as a vertical, or “stacked,” neighborhood. These families wanted an urban neighborhood that reflects their goals and values. Over the course of eight years, members worked together and, through a participatory process with non-hierarchical structure and decision making, CHUC was born

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

The saw dust settled long ago, and now the smell of freshly dried paint, and the low hum of heaters draws you through the spaces. All the units have floor to ceiling windows, but today the familiar views are hidden. The painters have sheathed the windows with craft paper to protect them from any over spray. The color of the paper lends the units a warm glow. 

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

From the exterior CHUC is dressed in its Sunday best. On the 12th Ave elevation, painting and storefront installation are complete. 

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

At Schemata, we're looking forward to moving into our new home later this spring!

- Roma

Permaculture in Seattle

[caption id="attachment_268" align="alignleft" width="700" caption="Permaculture Gardens at Daybreak Cohousing"][/caption] While designing Daybreak Cohousing in Portland, we were first introduced to the term "permaculture."  At the time, I imagined it was a radical and complicated way to plant and grow food.  However, in the past 4 years, I've come to learn that a lot of what I believe in relative to urban gardening/farming is actually imbedded in the principles of permaculture.  How did I find this out?  After numerous people I'd be talking to would say "hey, what you are describing sounds like permaculture."  So after the last person who said this to me, Jason Niebler - Program Director for Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAgE) Program at Seattle Central Community College, I bought the book Gaia's Garden...and so starts my journey.

The journey includes creating an urban farm on the rooftop of our future cohousing development on Capitol Hill.  Based on early conversations with Jason, it sounds like we can grow food for the 10 families who will reside in the community as well as enough to sell to local restaurants and possibly to neighbors at the Farmer's Market.  That is still a few years off, so till then, we will dream and plan.  And when we move in, our 3000sf rooftop farm will be open to the public - for tours and general information.  No more food deserts - we want to grow hyper local food that is nutritious, organic, and sustainable.

Until that time, you can learn more about permaculture at the 2010 Northwest Permaculture Convergence.  Since the meeting is taking place in an urban setting this year, the focus of the Convergence is on Urban Permaculture and the Invisible Structures that weave our lives together as part of the city commons.

Mark Lakeman of Portland's City Repair is the keynote speaker - and he's quite an inspiring!  After hearing from him, you will want to create your own community tea house adorned with butterfly wings and paint a magnificent mandala in your neighborhood intersection.

The event takes place this weekend - September 17-19 at South Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA.  More info can be found at  http://www.washingtonstatepermaculture.org/wordpress/?page_id=7