Pleasant Hill Cohousing
(Central Contra Costa County, California)

Meet Our Members
Community Member Profiles

 

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

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.


Elaine and Isaac

Elaine and her 6 year-old son, Isaac helped "open" PHCH in 2001. Writing this now, in 2014, I can reflect on what an incredible place this has been to raise a child. Isaac does not have siblings or a father, but living here at PHCH, he's grown up with two pseudo-brothers in the bodies of Lucio and Gabe and awesome father-figures in the wonderful men around here (most particularly, Ted!). Growing up at PHCH has provided over the years an extended family for both Isaac and myself that has truly been remarkable. I wouldn't change any of it and am so very thankful to have spent these years here.

As a PHCH member, I have served on the maintenance, social, and landscape committees, and helped out with the common meal billing system. I love our access to the Iron Horse bike trail, the creek running along side our property for afternoon walks, the close proximity to downtown Pleasant Hill and the freeway, and value the friendships I have formed here over the years. It's been a wonderful place to live.

Isaac is now 19 years old, in college, and I'm feeling the need for change. We'll see what the future brings!


Jan & Ellen



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

In 2003 we moved to Sri Lanka to work with the Nonviolent Peaceforce and lived there for 3 years.

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 "Effective Peacekeeping" as well as teach Alternatives to Violence and Buddhism in various prisons in California.

Jan's background prior to working with the Nonviolent Peaceforce is with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, as well as providing counseling with perpetrators and survivors of trauma and violence. Currently Jan teaches peacebuilding online with the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures Program including spending part of each January in Rwanda. Jan is also a consultant/coach working with individuals and families. More on Jan can be found here: http://www.janpassion.org/.

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.


Jean and Damario

Hi, my name is Damario, and I live in Pleasant Hill Cohousing with my mom Jean. Iím almost six, and I just returned from my first international voyage Ė on a cruise ship to Bermuda! Iím the little guy in the picture, and Mommy is the one in the coral dress. (Aunt Randi is in purple, with her parents Uncle Walter and Aunt Dorothy on Formal Night on the Celebrity Summit.)

Iíve been living at PHCH since Mommy adopted me five years ago. Iím really into transportation. In fact, my favorite part of the whole fancy vacation was getting stranded at SFO (after BART closed) upon our return. We didnít have $200 left for a cab, a rental car or a hotel, so we spent the night riding escalators, elevators and moving walkways around the International Terminal. Now, thatís my idea of FUN!

I start Kindergarten this fall at Fair Oaks Elementary, which is right next door! You step off our property, and Ė poof - youíre at school! Outside the rigors of academia, I go to tumbling class, play soccer, and cruise the PHCH Path looking for adventure.

Mommy is an antique single mom, a hospice chaplain, and a foodie; she serves me strange stuff like Chana Masala, Chicken Moambe, sushi with wasabi, Picadillo, blue cheese, and Tempeh Marbella. I prefer the wondrous whites Ė mac Ďn cheese, plain bread, pasta, yogurt, and vanilla ice cream, but I humor her. The Maitre Dí on the S.S. Summit even remarked that I have ďquite an enlightened palate.Ē

Mommy likes to write, nurture our relationships with the two families whoíve adopted my birth siblings, do yoga and SoulCollage, participate in community activities, eat out, swim, and go camping by mountain lakes. She and I also meditate, hike, travel, share poetry, music and dance as ways of communing with Something Larger than ourselves (whatever that means...).


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!).

 

Jen, Claia, and Melissa

Claia and Melissa moved into Pleasant Hill Cohousing with Melissa's dad, Rich, in 2001. Jen joined the household in May 2008.

Claia grew up in Edmonton, Canada, but came to the U.S. as a college student, and has stayed here to follow a life in academia. She taught astronomy in Minnesota and Missouri before moving to California, and initially taught physics at nearby Diablo Valley College until she landed a position at City College of San Francisco¬ where she continues to teach astronomy today.

Claia loves live theatrical productions, including watching our own cohousing improv players put on a show. She's fascinated by octopuses and cephalopods, foreign policy, trivia, playing Scrabble, and enjoys listening to classical music. A total geek, she knows every¬ "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode by heart.

Melissa was born in India and spent the first several months of her life in Kolkata, India. She has spent most of her life living here in cohousing. As of mid-2014, Melissa is preparing to go to high school and focus on her academic future. When she isn't studying or working on some project for school, she is seen socializing with other members of the girl pack, Miriam, Aurora, and Jamie. Melissa loves shopping, giving gifts, hanging out with past cohousers like her good friend Kiana Chan, listening to the latest music, going to amusement parks, volleyball, swimming, and watching movies at the Ramstad's house.

Jen grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, and lived in Queensland, Australia, spent summers in southeast Asia, and resided in New York City, Pasadena, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, and Berkeley before finally landing on PHCH's doorstep. In previous incarnations, she has been a biology and art major, an art teacher, an international student advisor at the City University of New York, a web designer, a web developer, and a systems analyst at NASA Ames Research Center.

Jen is currently living with a disability and not working. Along with Claia, she has assisted the Emergency Prep Committee and designed emergency drills to help the community prepare for disasters such as earthquakes.

Jen enjoys watching Doctor Who with friends, meditational coloring and art, listening to trance and world music, gluten-free cooking, watching independent films and documentaries, doing research on healthcare and patient advocacy, playing Scrabble, and redecorating any given living space if given half the chance and twice the budget.


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.


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 tears 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 and I have been members of our Ready or Not Improve troupe since 2010.

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 the area. Reading is now my vocation and Peter and I belong to both a book group and a New Yorker group. Four years ago we took an improv class, which then morphed into our Ready or Not Improv troupe. This continues to give us both joy and fun!

More about Ready or Not Improv.


Ryan, Anna, Oscar and Jasper

Jasper is 4 and enjoys playing on the Old Oak Lawn, riding his bike, playing with water, and throwing balls. He also is an avid gardener.

Oscar is 8 and in third grade. He loves school, reading, riding his bike, and traveling. He enjoys taking things apart, seeing how they work and making new things out of the parts.

Anna's interests include nutrition, acupressure and the connections between human health and the environment. She enjoys yoga and trying out weird new recipes that the family ends up liking.

Ryan enjoys biking, hiking, green building, woodworking, gardening and generally working with his hands. His favorite places are deep inside old-growth redwood groves and high up on mountain passes.


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. I chair 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 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. I loved my job at NPCA, but I look forward to having more time to spend with friends and PHCH neighbors. And although BART is very convenient to our homes, I will not miss the daily commute into S.F.

I have two grown children. My daughter lives in Oakland and works at Adobe. My son and his wife live in the CA desert with my two terrific grandchildren. I love it when the whole family gathers at PHCH!


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 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.


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

Living in cohousing is pretty much what I expected. After almost 13 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'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.

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.

I work at UC Berkeley where I take care of the Career Center website and manage other techie projects. I'm contemplating retirement in the next year or so and that's very exciting. I love to travel - this spring I went to Italy with cohousing neighbors Marian & Harry and another friend - and I'd like to do more of that. I'm also long-distance caregiving for my mom who lives in Florida (word to the wise: much better to live geographically closer when parents get old).

I'm one of the bookkeepers for our community and work closely with the Finance Advisory Team. I'm also chair of the Outreach Committee which means I'm the contact person for outside inquiries and I'm the webmistress for this website.


Terri, Torri, Lucio and Aurora

Terri, Torri, Lucio and Aurora live at the far end of our pie slice of community, in the North 40. Terri is a nurse practitioner and Torri is an IT consultant. Lucio is a college student and interested in all things anime. Aurora is starting high school, and plays volleyball and soccer. We are active on the Computer Connection, Social, Food and Pool Cttes. Torri can be found playing ball or reading with all the smaller kids when not working, and Terri is often sharing an IPA with her neighbors. In our spare time, we love to cook, travel, read. Some of us listen to podcasts, watch movies and bike as well. Torri is a Texan by birth, and Terri hails originally from Kansas. Both kids are native Californians.


Veena and Murthy

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, teach a Yoga class every week in the Common House and helping neighbors out when there is a need and living in community.


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 the President of our Homeownersí Association (till the end of 2014), and am also active on our Facilitation Team, Outreach 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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