Pleasant Hill Cohousing
Meet Our Members
Amy, George, Paul, Miriam
Miriam is 10 and in fifth grade. She attends Fair Oaks Elementary next door to our community. She enjoys school and does really well in all her subjects. She plays on an AYSO select soccer team and loves it. She also plays piano and oboe.
Paul is 14 and in eighth grade at Pleasant Hill Middle School. He is a straight A student and plays cello in the orchestra. He loves to make short videos and does all the cinematography, editing, script writing and production. He also plays soccer.
Amy is an environmental engineer and has been working for the San Francisco Health Department for over 17 years on one huge project = the cleanup and redevelopment of the Hunters Point Shipyard. She rides her bike one mile to BART and takes the train to work. On weekends she enjoys biking on the iron horse and other adjacent bike trails.
George is an architect and just got a new job with MBH architects. He enjoys cooking and refereeing the kidsí soccer games.
Both Amy and George were Peace Corps Volunteers back when they were young. Amy was in Nepal and George was in Yemen. They met through the returned Peace Corps Volunteer group.
Anastasia & Steve
Anastasia: After Steve and I married, we came to the discovery that our happiest times have been in community: hiking with Greenbelt Alliance, backpacking with Sierra Club groups, or attending yoga retreats with our friends. We wanted to extend those special times to year-round, rather than just two weeks of vacation and a couple of parties with friends. We discovered Cohousing, and it makes sense for us. We moved into PHCH in March of 2010.
In the last 10 years Iíve been studying and working as a solar estimator and installer, as a Master Composter, teaching classes on compost, vermicompost, and the Bay Friendly Gardening series. I've studied Permaculture, and created a small urban farm on our former lot in Oakland, complete with bees and chickens. Currently I work as a Sustainability Consultant, specializing in implementing waste reduction and recycling systems. I've discovered that Iím a generalist: I like to study a lot of different things, and then turn around and teach them to someone else.
I enjoy reading, hiking, bicycling, yoga, qi gong, cooking (with others), watching movies,playing old-fashioned board games, gardening and observing nature. Oh, and performing. My husband and I recently joined an improvisation troup based here in Pleasant Hill, where we perform regularly.
Steve:I grew up in the East Bay. My first real co-housing experience was at UCLA, in a fraternity with 40 other guys. It was a time of fun, personal growth and adventure, and several of those people are still my closest friends. I moved back to the Bay Area and met my wife Anastasia and we bought a house in Oakland. We learned about cohousing at the Hopland SolFest and thought it was a great way to live. We first moved to Yulupa Cohousing in Santa Rosa and then here to PHCH. I've found the same wonderful energy and creativity in co-housing that I experienced in my fraternity...but without the cockroaches and empty beer cans. My hobbies include biking, hiking/backpacking, movies, music, yoga, writing, guitar and improv. Iím very ecologically minded and have always valued living simply.
Barbara & Ted
Barbara: I am a people person and a cause person. Of the umpteen causes I support, the one I'm most actively involved in is feeding the homeless. Every Saturday a group of us at my church gather to make lunches for a group of homeless folks. It warms my heart to know we are able to lighten the load a smidgen for these folks and most importantly let them know we care. Computers have been my business for 30 years. Teaching is my love. In 1998 I retired from 16 years as a professor of Computer Science at Los Medanos College. For fun my husband Ted and I love to ballroom dance. My number one building requirement for the common house was that it accommodate dancing. I'm happy to report that we are enjoying a variety of dance activities in our great room.
Ted: I am open to new ideas, reflect on past actions, and have a gentle sense of humor. I consider myself to be on a spiritual path and have found Unity to be the guiding philosophy in my life. I am a practical environmentalist, compassionate to a fault, and concerned about the future of our planet. I retired in January 1999, after a 35-year career as a civil engineer in the water industry. I am really enjoying living in our community, and the experience has far exceeded my expectations.
Bob, Joanne & Jamie
Irene & Hursey (& Chico)
Elaine & Isaac
Elaine: Elaine and her son Isaac helped "open" PHCH in 2001. A retired special education teacher, Elaine is back to pursuing her bliss as an actor and finds the 35 minute BART ride to SF very convenient. When sheís not singing in the choir at the UU church (10 minutes away in Walnut Creek), she takes time to "walk the creek" adjacent to the PHCH property, or take a leisurely bike ride on the Iron Horse Trail - also adjacent to the PHCH property. Elaine is helps out on the Maintenance Committee and helps handle finances for the meal system.
Isaac: Hello all those people who will actually take the time to read this. My name is Isaac, I am 15 years old. I love to go see movies with my friends Gabe, Lucio, and the other Isaac. I also enjoy playing video games. I like PHCH because it is full of diversity and different beliefs and customs. We all just get together and learn from each other as we go on.
Sunshine and Whispers: Meow! Sometimes we donít get along too great with each other, but we absolutely LOVE all the humans in this community (especially our human brother, Isaac)! They pet us and talk to us. They also take care of us and feed us when our pets, Elaine and Isaac, are gone on vacation. They even sit on our couch and watch TV with us. We love cohousing!
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!).
Terri, Lucio & Aurora
Terri, Lucio and Aurora have been living at PHCH for nine years now. Lucio has computer game and action movie buddies, and Aurora and her girl gang roam the property in and out of each others houses all day. Terri is active on the Social, Food and Pool Committees and has recently taken over the community bookkeeper role.
Jan & Ellen
From 2011-2014, Jan and Ellen are living in New Zealand. They look forward to rejoining PHCH upon their return to California.
We joined PHCH towards the end of 2007. We were among the founding members of Cobb Hill CoHousing in Hartland Vermont. Between our lives at Cobb Hill and our life at Pleasant Hill, we lived in San Diego, Sri Lanka and San Francisco.
For the bulk of the last 20 years, we lived in Vermont. 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. She has also worked with the Waitt Family Foundation in San Diego.
In 2003 we moved to Sri Lanka to work with the Nonviolent Peaceforce and lived there for 3 years. As we thought about our return to the USA, we felt that it was time to leave VT. As one of our children (Serena) was finishing her degree at SFSU, we decided to "land" in the City while we regrouped about where in the USA we wanted to re-plant our roots, and then we found Pleasant Hill!
Jan's background prior to working with the Nonviolent Peaceforce is with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, and the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures Programme. Prior to that Jan worked with perpetrators and survivors of trauma and violence.
Between us we have three grown kids: Rachel, Serena, and Adam. We also live with Arty - a wonderful canine companion (1.5 years old) who has many friends in the community.
Currently Ellen works as a consultant and Jan continues to work for the Nonviolent Peaceforce.
Jan loves to sail, do yoga, paraglide and play racquetball and Frisbee. Ellen loves to paint, walk, and dance and practices Buddhism. We have a quarter share of a 10-meter boat on the Bay, and enjoy taking friends out to explore life on the water. More on Jan's website.
Jean & Damario
Hi! This is me and my mom on a very special day: November 20, 2010, when I officially became Damario Andres Weiss! When I joined Pleasant Hill Cohousing, a year before my adoption was finalized, all the child welfare professionals said I was "delayed." But the truth is, Mommy was delayed! Once she found me and I moved in with her at PHCH, I began ticking off my milestones like nobody's business! Now I walk, run, jump, slide, climb, tumble, talk, count and sing with the best of them. My Grandpa George, who slapped me with a "Life Sentence" in my new zany family, proclaims me to be "a perfectly normal two year-old." I like cars, music, walks, swinging, playing with my Uncle Jeffie (neighbor dude whom I'm training as a father figure), strolling, being chased, and foods from all over the world. I do not like baths or diaper changes.
Mommy lives here, too. She used to have lots of interests and engage in profound psycho-spiritual transformation. She used to love yoga and hiking, writing and swimming. Now, she's deeply fulfilled (and who wouldn't be, with me around?), but kinda cranky, exhausted and out-of-shape. (At 48, she's sort of an antique new mom.) For work, she helps people die in perfect tranquility with an organization called hospice. At home, she loves to make me laugh and feed our neighbors decadent dishes like Seafood Newburg, Chicken Moambe, and Tempeh Marbella.
Marian, Harry & Emily
We were the first family to move in - when the community was still under construction. Although leaving San Francisco was hard for all of us, we are glad to be here. Harry still commutes to the city for his job with the Mayor's Office of Housing & Community Development. Marian is a high school librarian in Orinda. We go to the city to see friends 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 enjoy the mix of community and privacy, spur-of-the-moment social interactions, and community "traditions" like the annual Day of the Dead festival, and Mt. Diablo group camping trip. Emily, the oldest "child" at 20, is away at college in Olympia, WA. She loves to return and visit the neighbors, help cook common meals, and take care of community animals and children. She plans to eventually live in cohousing herself.
Harry maintains the Decision Log, and likes to tackle special fix-it projects around the community. Marian is on the Risk Management Team, the HomeBase Committee, the Executive Committee, and, amazingly, has learned to cook meals for 40-50 people!
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. They are a homeschooling family, which works particularly well in cohousing. They 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. Leila is currently the youngest member of the community.
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 creating an educational consulting business focusing on helping homeschoolers create individually tailored educations based on each child's unique learning style. In her free time, Dana likes to read (particularly novels and books about children, learning, and psychology), knit, and hang out with John, her cohousing neighbors, and her friends.
As of early 2011, Maya likes to do art projects, math problems, dress up, play piano, and play with her friends. Dale likes imaginative play, dinosaurs, trucks, and dolls. Leila likes to nurse, make razzing noises, and smile at people.
Peter & Polly
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. I serve on the Landscape Committee, and I love the sense of accomplishment when a work party gets lots of outdoor work completed. PHCH has beautiful grounds, but they require a lot of careful maintenance.
I work in downtown San Francisco, so the access to BART is wonderful. I am 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. It's great, busy work, and I am proud to be part of the NPCA team advocating on behalf of our nation's treasures.
I have two grown children, both living in the Bay Area. My daughter particularly enjoys visiting in the summer, when it is foggy in San Francisco, and she can sit by the pool here and enjoy the warmth.
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!
I'm retired now for 8 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 as an officer and active 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. We are so lucky to have a theater a couple of blocks from here that shows foreign and art films so I can frequently indulge my other favorite leisure activity.
Living in cohousing is pretty much what I expected. After 9 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. Especially wonderful are the close friendships I have with some of the children which for me, a non-parent, could only happen in this environment.
I work at UC Berkeley where I take care of the Career Center website and manage other web-related projects.
I like to sing (with the Mango Lassies, our accapella group), dance (especially WCS and salsa), watch movies, be outdoors, and hang out with my friends. I'm making a dedicated effort to learn to speak Spanish, and we have a weekly conversation group for practice.
I'm one of the assistant bookkeepers and a member of the Finance Advisory Team. I'm also chair of the Outreach Committee which, among other things, means I'm the contact person for outside inquiries, I help with tours, and I'm the webmistress for this website.
Susan (yes,another one)
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.
Veena & Murthy
As of 2010-2011, we are currently living in India to be closer to family for a bit and have rented out our cohousing home.
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. And being able to just knock on a neighbor's door to borrow anything (soymilk, onions, muffin tray are all recent examples) reminds me of my childhood growing up in India where this is a common occurence.
Murthy and I are vegans and enjoy cooking the occasional vegan common meal for the community. I am on the Landscape Committee (whose chair, Peter, has such a great sense of humor that our meetings are always fun) and the "Decision Log Committee" (responsible for maintaining a log of all the decisions the community makes).
Murthy is part of the Garden Committee where he enjoys growing veggies in the community Organic Garden patch along with fellow Garden Committee enthusiasts. He uses his technical skills as part of the Computer Connection Committee (the committee that maintains our ingeniously laid broadband community network).
We both enjoy going on hikes with neighbors, babysitting our neighbor's dogs Jewel and Max, and welcoming the community cats into our home when they want to visit.
I'm a professional violinist: classical (performing with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, Fremont Symphony, and other Bay Area groups) and jazz. I perform regularly as part of a violin/cello jazz duo called Different Strokes. I've recorded 3 jazz CDs. Other interests include hiking, vegetarian cooking, and the group-process aspect of community building.
I found out about cohousing about 15 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 an active member of our Financial Advisory Team, Facilitation and Decision-Making Committee, and Garden Committee. I also do the bookkeeping for our Homeowners' Association. I am a past member of our Connection and Conflict Resolution Team, and remain active in facilitating conflict resolution.
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.