Thursday, March 05, 2009

An Interview with Greg Sherwin, Founder of Boulder Creek Community

by Osman Parvez
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Boulder Creek Community is the brain child of Greg Sherwin, a long term Boulder resident. We happened to catch Greg one early morning and sat down to ask him a few questions.


Q. What gave you the idea to create a co-housing community in Boulder?
A few years ago, I examined my life and wanted to know if my purpose was something more than what I had been doing. I had been a successful real estate broker, owner and rental manager for 30 years and was just starting a new career in psychotherapy. But after all that training and investment in my new direction, it wasn't feeding my soul. So I did some serious soul searching and I decided to embark on a vision quest.

Q. A vision quest? What was it about?
A vision quest is a spiritually driven journey of self discovery. For thousands of years, humans have undertaken vision quests at pivotal points in their lifetime. We've called them different things through the ages.

When I left Boulder and my life here behind, I got in my van and headed out to see which direction the wind (my inner guides) would take me. I didn't have a plan other than to listen to my heart and honor my inner voice. I ended up finding and exploring over 50 intentional and cohousing communities in the U.S. For a time, I stayed in many of them, meeting with their residents, sharing meals, community meetings and learning. I learned how these communities were structured, what worked and what didn't work. It was through that process that I realized I wanted to live in a community.

Q. Why did you decide to create a community instead of just joining one?
When I was on my vision quest, I was open to living anywhere but I didn't find a community that felt like home. Maybe part of it was my connections to friends and family here in Boulder. So when I returned, I started looking at communities here. It turns out that there are a lot of great communities in our area. For a time, I was even a participant in another local (development stage) cohousing community. Ultimately, with a strong vision for what I think works in a community, I decided that I wanted to create one. I also already owned the properties to use for that purpose.

Q. How does the affordable component work?
Residents can reduce their monthly cost of renting and/or ownership by participating in community. That participation can take the form of hosting a meal and one other monthly event (e.g. yoga, meditation, educational videos, playing games, etc.) that the host initiates. All residents must rent for up to a year and participate in community activities for at least 6 months. Then they can buy. During this trial period renters receive rental discounts in exchange for community participation. For community buyers there's also a low payment option, plus an estimated 20-35% off market rate monthly ownership payments in exchange for community participation.

Q. Why not create a new development?
Boulder Creek Community is blossoming within a sub-division that already exists. Interested people can go straight into community living, without the stress and risk (e.g. zoning, uncertain neighbors, rising costs, slow sales, etc.) of a substantial financial and time commitment to a time line for construction and planning. This results in much lower up front and purchase costs at BCC. For example, some comparable new or used ‘market rate’ unit at other local co-housing communities in Boulder might costs 2 to 3 times as much to buy as one of my ‘more affordable’ condos. Furthermore, perspective community members have the opportunity to ‘try-it’ before they financially commit to ‘buy-it’.

Q. What does your community have to do with what is currently happening in our larger community... the United States, or the world?
Boulder Creek Community, and others like us (e.g., 108 cohousing communities plus many intentional communities in the U.S.) are a microcosm... an experiment and demonstration of what is possible when a group of people responsibly join together, in trust, courage, caring and mutual respect, to co-create new possibilities for peaceful co-existence, learning and serving our planet. Community is an expression of conscious participation with others.

The transformation of our dysfunctional national and world community can, and perhaps must, start with grass roots level communities, such as Boulder Creek Community. Community is where we, as citizens, can begin to recognize, experiment, honor and utilize our latent individual power and inspiration in service to our personal growth and in service to the highest good of our community and the planet.

Lofty visions often have humble beginnings.

Q. What is your personal vision for your community?
My personal vision statement for my participation in Boulder Creek Community is this:

“Being human is a playground for the unfolding of the soul, for learning to lovingly accept ‘what is’ while adventuring into ‘what is possible’ in community with others.”

As our community develops we will have the opportunity to consciously develop a collective vision, that will, hopefully, embrace some or all of each of our personal vision statements. This is a community building process.

The content of our community life - our mission statement, structure, agreements, goals and community activity - will, if all goes well, arise out of our mutually agreed upon contextual community vision statement.

Q. What else would you like us to know about your community?
I'd like to mention that our young (since last August) community now has 8 households and 13 residents. So, community members now have a choice of 8 dinners and creative events to choose from each month. We still have 3 more affordable 'rent-to-buy' condos left that are being marketed right now starting from May to August. Interested people can learn more by logging on to BoulderCreekCommunity.com or calling 303-417-1690."
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Boulder Creek Community photo set on Flickr


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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

1 comment:

  1. I've had a chance to interact with Greg Sherwin as he created the listing for Boulder Creek Community within the Cohousing Directory. I am quite impressed with the creativity he is demonstrating in this new form of cohousing - converting existing dwellings within a larger condominium into a new cohousing community. I hope Greg is able to attend the upcoming 2009 National Cohousing Conference in Seattle on June 24-28 to share about this innovative approach toward creating a cohousing community by "coho-izing" existing dwellings.

    Craig Ragland
    Executive Director
    Coho/US

    ReplyDelete