Pleasant Hill Cohousing
(Central Contra Costa County, California)

Meet Our Members
Community Member Profiles

 

Barbara

My deceased husband Ted and I founded this cohousing community. Next to raising our two sons, the creation of this community stands highest on my list of life accomplishments to date. Iím writing this after 4 years of planning and construction and 12 years of living here. It is everything I dreamed of and so much more.

During the seven months of Tedís illness and death and in the year since, our neighbors who are also our friends supported us in endless ways. I needed folks to go out to eat with, and Ted needed visitors. Those were provided in abundance. When he was home and was under hospice care, folks came to say their farewells. That included every single parent of small children who brought their children. A group of women formed adhoc choirs and came to sing wonderful spiritual songs to Ted. During this entire time, it was a friend-neighbor who communicated what was transpiring with us to our community and to other groups of friends outside PHCH. Support has been here for me this past year; a normally conflict-avoidant neighbor got in my face and told me I had to go get help as in a grief counselor. It didnít leave me much choice when she put it that way. These are some of the many, many ways we support each other. When a 3-year old says to me, ďI miss Uncle TedĒ, I am again reminded why I love having this as my home.

Today I am enjoying going ballroom dancing several times a week. On-line dating which didnít exist the last time I was single is a hoot. In our community I chair our Facilitation Team and make time to just sit out front and take the opportunity to visit with my neighbors.

Unity of Walnut Creek continues to be my spiritual home after more than 30 years. Iíve been studying Non-Violent Communication for the last 5 years, and now utilize Hoí oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian spiritual practice. These all contribute to my well being, to my spiritual growth as an authentic, loving person, and to making our planet a more wonderful place for all living creatures.


Bob & Jamie

My ex-wife Joanne and I joined the group in March of 2000, after the land had been acquired and most of the design work had been done, but about 6 months before construction started. We moved in in November 2001. About 18 months later our daughter Jamie arrived (via adoption from China). PHCH has been an excellent place to raise a child. I like to say that itís as if Jamie had 42 aunts and uncles looking out for her. When Joanne and I separated in 2014 I was fortunate that another unit became available, and I moved just a few doors away, which makes co-parenting easy.

Iím a science and medical journalist, and although I have a full-time position as the editor of a news and information website for physicians Iím fortunate to be able to work from home. My main hobby is woodworking, and I make a lot of use of our well-equipped workshop. As I write this in the summer of 2018 Jamie is about to begin her junior year at College Park High School. Sheís interested in aviation and is a cadet sergeant in the local branch of the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.


Jan & Ellen



We joined PHCH towards the end of 2007. We were among the founding members of Cobb Hill Cohousing in Vermont in the late 90s. Between our lives at Cobb Hill and our life at Pleasant Hill, we lived in San Diego, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and San Francisco.

We lived in Sri Lanka to work with the Nonviolent Peaceforce from 2003-2006.

Ellen's background is rather diverse having worked as the Executive Director for the Center for a New American Dream, the Ben and Jerry's Foundation -- and before that as a psychotherapist. More recently she completed her PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies in New Zealand. Ellen continues to do research and writing on "Unarmed Civilian Protection/Peacekeeping" as well as volunteer as a Buddhist prison chaplain in a prison nearby.

Jan's background prior to working with the Nonviolent Peaceforce was a psychotherapist working with perpetrators and survivors of trauma and violence. Jan served on the faculty of the School for International Training teaching peacebuilding online with the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures Program. He continues to do some international peacebuilding consulting and works locally as a consultant/coach working with individuals and families. More on Jan can be found at: www.janpassion.org/.

Janís other work is taking folks on sailing tours of the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean with a 33í catamaran, Hokahey. His website is www.SailHokahey.com

Between us we have three grown kids: Rachel, Serena, and Adam. We also live with Navi who is a guide dog breeder with Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Jan loves to sail, paraglide and play racquetball and ultimate frisbee. Ellen loves to paint, walk, and dance and practices Buddhism. They like to make ceramic art together in the Cohousing art studio.


Jeff & Lynn

Jeff: I have been interested in cohousing for many years and have now finally, recently, (we moved in in August of 2006) arrived! I enjoy playing with the kids, jumping in the pool and hot tub, and having unplanned moments. I work as a software engineer and systems manager at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory. Along with cohousing I love backpacking, music, and scuba diving (in warm waters!).

 

John, Dana, Maya, Dale & Leila

John, Dana, and Maya moved to Pleasant Hill Cohousing in December 2005 when Maya was one month old. Dale was born in 2007, and Leila was born in 2010. We are a homeschooling family, which works particularly well in cohousing. We enjoy the day-to-day interactions that come with living in cohousing, as well as the opportunities for the kids to connect with other children and adults. Dana is a member of the Kid's Committee and the Social Committee. John is on the Maintenance Committee.

John grew up in nearby Walnut Creek and never really expected to move back to this part of the Bay Area. After working as a geologist for several years, John went to law school, and now works for a large firm in San Francisco. When heís not working, John likes to play with the kids, run on the Iron Horse trail, read science fiction, hike in the nearby hills, do carpentry projects, and watch movies.

Dana grew up in Palo Alto and went to UCSC as an undergrad. She has worked doing office jobs, as a preschool teacher, and as an SAT and GRE test-prep tutor and has an MA in Clinical Psychology. She is currently back in graduate school studying art therapy, and homeschooling the kids. In her free time, Dana likes to do arts and crafts, sing, dance, write love poems from the viewpoint of various animals, fight authoritarianism, and hang out with John, her cohousing neighbors, and her friends.

As of 2018, Maya likes science, robotics, programming, reading, art, and spending time with friends. Dale likes paper crafts, Minecraft, Roblox, Harry Potter, Norse mythology, and hiding from cameras (he is not pictured, for that reason). Leila likes arts and crafts, Minecraft, Roblox, making people laugh, and playing with other kids.


Laura & Jim

Hi. We moved to PHCH in the fall of 2016.

Jim is a chiropractic neurologist specializing in treating people with brain injuries and strokes, problems with learning and memory, and chronic pain. He has also developed and patented an online technology, BrainTiime.com, that balances, strengthens and heals the brain.

Laura is a business coach and private mentor for yoga teachers and other women healers. She travels to lead retreats, teaches online courses, and coaches private clients. She's also writing a book! (Perhaps by the time you read this her book will be complete. :)

As you can see, we are both geeky nerds, and we love it that there are so many other fun nerds here. Some of our other interests include meditation; hiking in nature; travel; singing; studying just about anything, but probably most especially spirituality and emotional intelligence; playing with children; being involved in our community. Laura used to be a bilingual teacher and is fluent in Spanish.

We've been very happy here, and have loved getting to know our neighbors, having children roam outside freely, taking part in support groups, plus participating in meals and shared committee work. Perhaps the biggest learning for us has been growing our social muscle of how to communicate when there is conflict. This hasn't always been easy for us, but we have grown SO MUCH through learning in this area as a result of living here.


Marian, Harry and Emily

We were the first family to move in - when the community was still under construction in Sept. 2001. Although leaving San Francisco was hard for all of us, we are glad to be here. We go to the city for friends, museums, and theatre, and we're glad the BART commute is so easy. We love the weather out here--sitting on the patio in the evening, seeing stars, fall leaves--and knowing our neighbors.

Harry and Marian are new retirees and empty nesters. We enjoy the mix of community and privacy, spur-of-the-moment social interactions, and community "traditions" like the annual Day of the Dead festival. Our daughter Emily, nearly 25, loved growing up in Cohousing. She is currently doing a second year-long stint as an AmeriCorps Team Leader in the Southern Region.

Harry serves on the Cold Water team, and likes to tackle fix-it projects around the community. Marian is on the Risk Management Team, the Compost Team, and the Facilitation Team. She has learned how to cook easy meals for a crowd.


Peter & Polly

Peter: I was born in England and have lived for long periods in England and Southern Ontario, Canada. On a California vacation in 1984 I met Polly and we were married two years later. I taught elementary school for forty years and retired in 2006. I like to read, run, and solve cryptic crossword puzzles. I also follow the mis(mostly)fortunes of my favorite English soccer team.

Polly: I was born in Texas and came to California in 1958. I taught English at Amador High in Pleasanton and then went back to school to become a Marriage and Family Counselor and am now retired. I have three grown children from my first marriage, two of whom live in California. Reading is now my vocation and Peter and I belong to a book group he's been going to for over thirty years.


Sharon

I've been a resident of Pleasant Hill Cohousing since April 2007. Moving here was a great idea, as I have found a community of like-minded people, and common meals as well as various community celebrations are a delightful way to get to know neighbors better.

In 2018, I am the co-chair of the Board and the chair of the Landscape Committee. One of the things that attracted me most to PHCH was the beautiful grounds, but they require a lot of careful maintenance. I spend a substantial amount of time on Community issues.

I retired in July 2014 from a job in San Francisco; I was the development director for the Pacific Region of the National Parks Conservation Association. NPCA is the only national organization working to protect and enhance America's National Parks for present and future generations.

Now I spend much of my free time quilting, a hobby I began a couple of years before retirement. I also volunteer for the local Ruth Bancroft Gardens and I take classes at Cal State East Bay through the Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI).

I have two grown children (pictured with me here) and two grandchildren. They all live in the Nevada City/Grass Valley area.


Sheryl

Back in 2001, I was beginning to feel more the isolation of city life after a decade in lovely San Francisco. Lucky for me, thatís when I stumbled across a flyer about then-forming Pleasant Hill Cohousing. One meeting and one potluck later, I was hooked! I was attracted to cohousing because I wanted to live in a place where I know my neighbors Ė infants, seniors, and all ages between - and we work together to make our little neighborhood home. I have not been disappointed. My favorite things about living in community are common meals, knowing everyone Ė especially kids - and both fun and work with my neighbors. Throw in the unexpected bonus of opportunities to grow, to give to and receive from each other, and I'm one happy cohouser!

 

Sue

I'm retired now for 18 years and I am settling in nicely to what I thought would be a relaxed lifestyle. Of course, because I am who I am that is not the case. I am a potter and we have a small but very complete studio here at Lisa Lane Commons so I am there whenever I have time because that is what truly makes me happy. Because I have 2 children and 3 grown grandchildren who have varied and exciting lives, I take time often to interact with them as they all live close by. I am active here on a couple of committees. I enjoy the little ones, especially the babies, so I like to use a slice of time for them. I hike when I can and there are many places in the Bay Area to do that. I am lucky enough to have a little income from my pottery and so I can travel and I do often.


Sunny & David

We moved to Pleasant Hill Cohousing at the tail end of 2015. We jumped right in and have loved so many things about life in cohousing: the relationships, collaborative projects, community events, common meals, giving and receiving support, inter-generational living. Weíve also faced many challenges, but on the whole, believe cohousing is well worth it.

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Sunny went to college in MA (Hampshire College). Outside of community, she works as a Business Partnership Coach for cofounders and business partners, as well as a Couple Therapist and Interpersonal Dynamics Facilitator for MBA students.

David has lived most of his life in various parts of California. He went to college at the UC, Santa Barbara where he lived in a housing co-op. Professionally, he is an Actuary practicing in the area of Property & Casualty Insurance. He is a musician and plays classical and jazz piano, and spent a decade as a professional pianist. He continues to play as much as possible strictly for his own enjoyment.

In community, Sunny has been on the Facilitation Team, Outreach, HomeBASE. Meals Committee and various Ad Hocís (Aging and Wellness, Long-Range Planning, Interpersonal Practice, Community Life Discussion Group, etc). David joined Executive Committee for his first year, and is a member of the Risk Management Team, Computer Connection Committee, and is Investment Guru. As a cycling commuter, David is also a member of the Bike Shed Committee. We have also been very involved in advocating for full funding of the Reserve Fund, and have put in countless hours toward that effort.

We have family in the area, but no kids of our own, and our indoor-only cat who is quite spoiled can do tricks. For fun, we enjoy West Coast Swing dancing, and hiking and games. Our current home away from home is Kauai (North Shore, Hanalei). Once David is ready to retire we plan move to an equally wonderful cohousing community outside of the Bay Area for a more affordable and relaxed pace of life.


SusanF

I have had co-housing in my sights since the 1980s and finally made that dream come true in January 2009. One of the best decisions I've made. I love knowing my neighbors, both as friends and as partners in maintaining the community. Transitioning to the suburbs and living in community presents many challenges, but they are far outweighed by the pleasures of shared meals, activities and friendships at PHCH.

I grew up in Berkeley and lived in Alameda for many years before moving to PHCH. I am a retired reporter who is busier than ever working for the community (Landscape and Security committees), making art quilts, volunteering at a nearby food pantry and traveling, particularly to Latin America. My children are grown and (fingers crossed) on their own, but with no grandchildren on the horizon. So I love watching the little ones grow and learn in this wonderful place to grow up.


SusanH

I've been here since we found the site (2 years before move-in) and I'm very glad to have been part of forming our community. That was one of the most exciting things I've ever experienced -- watching our community take shape physically (the buildings) and interpersonally.

After almost 18 years, there have been a few surprises (some good, some hard) but I'm very happy here and I can't imagine living anywhere else. I get a lot of pleasure out of being part of a community; I feel that I am "known" in a way I've never experienced before.

I love my cozy house with the clean quiet hydronic heating, the big windows that let in lots of light, the natural materials (e.g., wool carpet and marmoleum flooring), the effective soundproofing so that I only rarely hear my neighbors. I am happily living without television because there are so many other things to occupy myself with. And, even though there are lots of activities going on, I like the sense of freedom to participate if I want to but knowing that if I don't, it doesn't mean others won't have a good time.

In 2015 I retired from UC Berkeley where I worked for 20 years at the Career Center, managing the website and other techie projects. I'm enjoying retirement but maybe a little too busy with various activism projects (Health Care for All, the Oakland group for Coming to the Table, SURJ - Stand Up for Racial Justice ("new" Contra Costa chapter), and many cohousing responsibilities. I try to balance that with fun things like a women's singing group in Oakland, movies, spontaneous Happy Hours with my neighbors, getting outdoors more, and looking forward to some travel.

I'm the community bookkeeper and a member of the Financial Advisory Team. I'm chair of the Outreach Committee which means I'm the contact person for outside inquiries and I'm the webmistress for this website. And I'm temporarily co-chair of our HomeBASE Committee which helps find new community members when we have an available unit.


Veena and Murthy

***2018 fall- we are currently in India spending some time with family ***

We have been living here since the fall of 2003, but involved with the group since early 1999. It was great to move into a place where we knew all the neighbors and their kids! I (Veena) love that I get to spend time with the kids when I want to and have on occasion organized some craft projects for them, which can be so much fun. The original 'girl pack' are teenagers now! And being able to just knock on a neighbor's door to borrow anything (soymilk, onions, muffin tray, food dehydrator are all recent examples) reminds me of my childhood growing up in India where this is a common occurrence.

Murthy and I are vegans and enjoy cooking the occasional vegan common meal for the community. We also have learnt permaculture and try to grow some food in our tiny backyard. I am on the "Decision Log Committee" (responsible for maintaining a log of all the decisions the community makes) and the Cold Water Team (periodic maintenance of our sprinkler system) Murthy is part of the Computer Connection committee (the committee that maintains our ingeniously laid broadband community network), the Cold Water and Hot Water teams and is also on the Garden Committee as time permits.

We both enjoy going on hikes, and helping neighbors out when there is a need and living in community.


W & K

Our family joined the Pleasant Hill Cohousing community in 2013 when our two boys were in preschool. Our boys are going to be fifth and third graders in the fall of 2018. They are currently homeschooled by their mom, a full time homeschooling teacher. The boys are busy learning various languages and other subjects, in addition to the California standardized education. They are bilingual and hope to be tri-lingual in a few years. Their dad works in an environmental field to protect our natural resources. We love hiking, swimming, kayaking, biking, camping, learning new things, and going to new places to further educate ourselves to be nicer to the earth.


Yehudit

I'm a semi-retired professional violinist: classical (performed for many years with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, Fremont Symphony, and other Bay Area groups) and jazz. I've recorded 3 jazz CDs. At this point in my life, I love to play but donít have the desire to hustle for gigs, so I mostly play with friends for pleasure. I love playing for community events like our Winter Solstice celebration. Other interests include hiking, cooking, group singing, and the group-process aspect of community building.

I found out about cohousing about 25 years ago, and knew it was the way I wanted to live. I worked for several years with a group in Marin County (where I lived for 30 years), trying without success to create cohousing there. When the Pleasant Hill group found our site, I joined, realizing that it was my best chance to make my cohousing dreams real -- even though it meant relocating to a part of the Bay Area that was wholly new to me. I was one of the first people to move in when our homes were completed, and have lived here ever since.

I am currently active on our Facilitation Team, Outreach Team, Financial Advisory Team, and Garden Committee.

Over the years I have lived here, I have had some difficult moments, but no regrets. I like and respect all of my neighbors, and feel that I can be real with them. I love the spontaneous social activities that happen because we're all here. I am fascinated and challenged by the consensus decision-making process. I continue to hold to the vision of living in a creative, resourceful community where there is a commitment to resolve conflict peacefully, transcend differences, and create win-win solutions. As an older single woman, I also enjoy living in a multi-generational community that includes children.


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