Building a Gingerbread Community

Richmond Cohousing wants to be a family friendly community. We envision a whole neighborhood watching out for kids, like it used to be in the olden days. But having children can be a lot of work and parents who might benefit from cohousing often have very little extra time to share for meetings – even if we provide free babysitting!

In an effort to reach out to families, our Marketing & Membership committee decided to host family friendly programs to appeal to both parents and children. We just completed a Gingerbread House program and we hope to have future family programs with themes involving Legos, bubbles, and maybe even yoga!

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A gingerbread community – complete with common house, solar panels, and homes ready to be decorated!

As a former children’s library worker, I’ve given quite a few family and children’s programs in my time. But few have been as important to me as the ones I have lead for Richmond Cohousing. After all, these are children and parents whom I hope will be my neighbors – and I’d like to make good impression!

Having worked in libraries, I knew that where family programs are concerned, it’s either feast or famine. You have many, many people come to your program or not a single soul. Imagine how happy I was when 5 additional adult volunteers came to help at the Gingerbread House program. Thank you Adele, John, Anne, L, and Lala! We couldn’t have hosted as many families without your help. The company of my fellow cohousers made me feel much more relaxed about being on stage as the primary presenter for a program I’d never done before.

And thank you to the 29 kids and parents who came to learn about cohousing and, of course, build candy houses! I wonder if Santa Claus was on the kids minds as the children were absolute angels. There were no fights and no crying, only laughter and the sounds of children learning and crafting houses.

Beth Morris and the Richmond Public Library did a wonderful job of promoting our program and even printed and distributed our Gingerbread fliers throughout the library system. Crafts are not my forte so I was very pleased and grateful to Beth, she took the Gingerbread House building project in hand so I wouldn’t have to. Thank you, Ms. Beth!

And while it helped that we were following up on a popular library program which books up every single year, our committee member Meg got the event posted all over the virtual world. Thank you, Meg!

Two Richmond Cohousing families brought their children to the event. Every time that I asked for help relating an aspect of cohousing, they piped up and participated in presenting. Their participation got the children looking around and listening to more than one person. And I was particularly grateful when L asked the kids what solar panels are when we checked out the Gingerbread Common House. I’d forgotten to ask that question and it needed asking. And even their kids helped by dishing out the candy and unwrapping plastic. They had fun interacting and getting to know other children that frequent the Main library.

And last but not least, many thanks to Kathryn. She volunteered herself and her kitchen for over 8 hours of gingerbread house construction. Who knew prefabbed houses could take so long to build! It was Kathryn who helped construct the Common Gingerbread House and made sure it held together. She installed the solar panels, too!

Building a cohousing community is a big project – one that takes a a lot of help and hands. Thank you everyone who helped with this event and with the Richmond Cohousing project. It may be a lot of work now, but when we are finished it will be as sweet as a gingerbread house!

Caroline is a long time resident of Oregon Hill, vegan cheesemaker, and gingerbread planner extraordinaire. She is also one of the founding members of Richmond Cohousing – if you’d like to hear about how our group came to be, she’s a great one to ask!

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