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May 25, 2020

All,

I hope that this email finds you in good health and as best spirits as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I don’t feel that I’ve done an especially good job of reacting to the pandemic over the last couple of months, and wanted to use this email to apologize, explain, and suggest a path forward for Puyallup Cohousing.

I started the new year with what I thought was a well-planned agenda that would result in the creation of a core group of cohousing enthusiasts in Puyallup to develop a cohousing community on my farm. My plan of journeying from Richmond, California to Puyallup, Washington for a week a month in order to nucleate a core group seemed to have great promise after the January trip, with lots of good contacts and leads for the next trip.

I started that second trip in the first week of March, just as the realization of the seriousness of Covid was becoming widely acknowledged. It seemed to me that the world was changing daily, with appointment after appointment cancelling and the news becoming more and more grim. It became obvious that all of my plans were not going to happen, and I left early to return to California. To put it mildly, I was NOT a happy-camper!

I liken the last ten weeks as my version of a trip through the five stages in the Kubler-Ross model of grief (usually applied to serious things like death and dying - not community development!) The stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

I returned to California in mid-March firmly in the “Denial/Anger” stages, made all the worse by the San Francisco Bay Area going to full shelter-in-place on Mar 17. I spent April and the first part of May trapped in my personal version of the “Bargaining/Depression” stages and was seriously considering abandoning the cohousing project and selling the farm to whatever developer was willing to make the highest offer. (For those of you who sent email to me during this time and got a tardy or nonexistent response, please accept my apologies) Happily, that rotten mood regarding Puyallup cohousing seems to have passed, largely due to watching the reactions of existing cohousing communities to the crisis. To me, it seems like the most common reaction is something like: “I can’t understand how anyone could get through a crisis like this alone and WITHOUT a strong community…”

Which brings me to the “Acceptance” stage.

Acceptance of the fact that creating a cohousing community on my farm is more important to me than ever.

And acceptance of the fact that the traditional models of cohousing core group formation with in-person gatherings like potlucks, fun group social events, workshops, policy meetings, etc. are simply not going to be available to the Puyallup Cohousing forming group - certainly for the next year, and most likely for years beyond.

If participating in the creation of Puyallup Cohousing is something that is important to you, or even if you are just curious enough to want to tag along to keep an eye on how things are going, please consider joining me for a 60-90 minute Zoom meeting on the first Wednesday of June (Jun 3rd) starting at 7PM PST. I’ll send a Zoom invite and a suggested agenda to this list a day or two in advance. I’m thinking that a preliminary agenda might include:
1. a brief introduction of yourself;
2. A key thing or two that you would like to bring into the community; and
3. plans for frequency and subjects for future online meetings.
I’m open to suggestions for other agenda items, so please send any thoughts my way.

If you are newer to this mailing list, or even if you just haven’t visited the website in awhile, please make sure that you have reviewed the website at PuyallupCohousing.org prior to the call. While you are reviewing, please note any additions that you think would be good to include on the website and forward them to me.

Looking forward to talking with you on the 3rd,

Mike Slama

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