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The following pictures and bios are some of the present members of the Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community:
Living in the Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community is turning out to be surprising in many ways. Everyday offers an opportunity for learning and deepening relationships.I enjoy watching the community rise to challenges with creativity, teamwork and enthusiasm.
The cohousing movement touches many of the issues that we are facing in the world: how to be in community peacefully, how to live with more respect for the natural world and how to reach out to our neighbours to name a few. I am excited to be part of a group that is training leaders in cooperative decision making, and am thrilled to be living in a green building, where decisions are based on what is good for the earth. Together we can be the change we want to see.
I am a nurse with a grown son and a shy cat. I have dipped my toe in the hobby farm pool and am actively involved in the cooperative garden – organic of course. Group composting… bring it on! I am a lifelong learner, who enjoys cooking, reading, making music, and walking in nature. I am grateful to live in a community that allows me to live closely to my values.
My name is Maureen Brown. I grew up in Edmonton, and when I was 13 we moved to the Keegano housing coop in Edmonton. I really didn’t care much about the philosophy of cooperatives at the time, but looking back I think that my desire to live in a community is partly because of Keegano. I have a deep respect for the original founders, and some of them are people who I still know and love.
I attended NAIT in Edmonton and became a computer programmer. That was about 20 years ago, when there were only mainframes, and there was no internet. A few years ago, I decided to return to NAIT to upgrade my skills and complete an applied degree. I’m still learning the ‘new stuff’ and will be for awhile, so my career is still in transition.
I have a great hobby that I love and it’s called ‘lampworking’ or ‘flameworking’. I work with glass in a torch and usually make beads, but sometimes small sculptural things. I am quite new at this, but I spend as much time as I can on it.
I am looking forward to living in Pacific Gardens. I am looking forward to learning from others, and sharing what I know. I am also looking forward to getting to know everyone. I tend to be a very supportive person who likes to give people kudos. I think celebration is a great thing to do as much as possible. I love to laugh, and I love to eat good food. I love music, and I love singing to music, even though I’m not that great a singer. I also love reading and I love solitude and being outside with trees all around me.
My birthday is April 3. Now, I don’t necessarily believe in astrology, but I do find it an interesting model, especially when it comes to my involvement in the Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community.
My birth sign is Aries, and in typical Aries fashion, I rushed forward into this project, with all the usual head-butting enthusiasm and fiery passion of someone born under the sign of the Ram.
In contrast, my rising sign is Cancer, which means I’m very attached to home; it is my place of retreat and refuge when I tire of the battle. I’m also a very private person, so peace and quiet are important to me.
My Moon is in Virgo, so I’m a perfectionist; I want my cohousing home to be absolutely right. I’m also a guardian and protector of people; I want Pacific Gardens to be a safe and happy place for everyone who lives here.
Alas, Saturn, planet of obstacles, exerts a strong influence on my astrological life, I’m told, but, fortunately, I’m used to this, and can persevere almost endlessly (even through really long meetings!).
Now, as to the more down-to-earth stuff about me: I have a background in journalism and media relations, as well as a PhD in Media Studies, and was a part-time instructor in Media Studies at Malaspina University-College (now Vancouver Island University) here in Nanaimo.
I was born in Montreal, but grew up on Vancouver Island, and have lived in Victoria and the Alberni Valley. I lived in London, Ontario for 14 years, and for five years in Stirling, Scotland, while I was studying for my PhD. I moved to Nanaimo in the summer of 2003, attracted by the small-town life and the possibility of living in cohousing.
My favourite activities are singing (I belong to two choirs), reading (everything from novels to non-fiction, magazines to newspapers – I’m a print junkie), swimming (I’m a member of Nanaimo Ebbtides, a Master’s swim club in the city), Pilates, and working out at Curves.
I’ve been on the executive of both the federal and provincial Green Party constituency associations, serve on the board at the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo and CMHA Mid-Island, and of course, am actively involved in the life of Pacific Gardens, where I am on the board and two other committees as well as the strata council.
I’m committed to a healthy lifestyle, eating organically, and living environmentally, but I’m only an intermittent vegetarian (if you cook it, I’ll eat it)!
I love the incredible beauty of our location, the warmth of our multi-generational, multicultural community, and the opportunity to live authentically and in harmony with the environment here at Pacific Gardens.
I love living at cohousing, enjoying friends to talk with, going for walks, getting more exercise such as dancing, learning new skills, participating in interesting discussions and debates, movie night, and planning fun events.
I was born in Brazil and lived there for 6 years, and then moved with my parents and sister to England for a year and Windsor, Ontario for 4 years. I eventually arrived in Nanaimo when I was in Grade 5 and completed high school and first year at Malaspina College here.
I am so glad my parents settled in this Island Paradise! I feel very spoiled and privileged to have beauty all around, which is especially noticeable when arriving home from other parts of the world. I loved traveling to countries on each continent, when I was single and fancy-free!
Chad and I have been together since 1996 and enjoy working on environmental projects together. We met at a meeting of the Community Shared Agriculture Farm Project where we served as board members and then coordinators of this organic farm project. We sure learned a lot about working in community – fund-raising, educating youth and growing wonderful healthy food!
My hobbies are walking, hiking, reading, learning holistic health, personal growth, workshops that enhance my learning, organic gardening, dancing, folk music and festivals, good films, and great discussions!
I worked at the Credit Union for 28 years, mostly in customer service and supervisory positions. Jointly with Chad, I have coordinated projects under Green Communities Nanaimo, the non profit organization we started to deliver many programs focusing on energy efficiency, pesticide reduction and healthy homes.
We own and manage the Green Store which sells discount organic food, and all kinds of green and non-toxic products. We are also members of a car share co-op in Nanaimo.
My skills are in gardening, having good listening/counseling skills, brainstorming ideas, knowledge of local plants and a keen interest in local flora and fauna. I enjoy any community activities where I can take part with others.
I love any vegetarian foods, and prefer it to be organically grown. Ethnic foods are great!
Cohousing is a great opportunity for a great, rich (and challenging!) life among friends- the best way to go!
Hello, My name is Chad Henderson. I was born in London, Ontario on October 10, 1970, but was raised in the warm Okanagan Valley in B.C. Work brought me to Nanaimo where I met the lovely Susana Michaelis.
I have been enjoying her friendship and passion in my life since 1996. We were married under the canopy of tall Douglas Firs beside the Chase River on the Pacific Gardens property.
I have a B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. From this I did several years of wildlife studies on endangered species, and then helped start up several environmental organizations, including an organic farming project and energy conservation program.
Ironically perhaps I found myself more attracted to working with people and enjoyed developing my business skills, a far cry from my university teachings. I now operate the Green Store at 256 Wallace Street in Nanaimo. At our previous store location we hosted PGCC’s first office.
Although I “run a store” and am “saving the environment”, these are almost a cover for my greatest joy, which is helping people grow and enrich their lives. I’ve found that people won’t change their behavior to save the world, if they aren’t happy first!
When people walk into the store, if they say they don’t enjoy shopping, then I tell them they aren’t allowed to buy anything, and to go enjoy a nice walk or make that phone call to a good friend. I enjoy a great clientele of customers that enrich my day with their life experiences.
Although I am an introvert, I have long known that community is vital to my human existence, a necessary part of our social fabric. I can’t “buy” community on the market. They don’t sell it.
Cohousing is an adventure that has brought me to a place I can call home – somewhere to set down my roots so that the rest of me can blossom and continue to grow with others who share concern for social and environmental issues.
Now, to tell you a bit about me – I was born in Dawson Creek, BC. I spent my teens in the Okanagan working in the family business of motel and orchard. I’ve lived on Vancouver Island for 22 years after coming to Victoria to go to University.
I’ve traveled some parts of Europe, Australia, and the South Pacific and spent a year working in New Zealand. Most of my work has been in health care. I have a BA in psychology and a B.Sc. in Nursing. Currently I work part time in psychiatric rehab and independently as a foot-care nurse.
Gardening is a favourite activity and aligns with my spiritual path (I am a member of the Unitarian Fellowship). I have many creative pursuits including soap making, sewing, and painting. I approach most activities as opportunities for artistic expression, from cooking to gardening to exercising.
I believe that one of my purposes in life is to create healing environments and Pacific Gardens allows plenty of opportunity for me to do that.
I have been involved with Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community since the purchase of the land. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the concept of cohousing and of the architectural plans for this particular project.
For me, the atrium is the heart and soul of this project, both architecturally and philosophically. The lack of space and amenities experienced by friends who live in townhouses and condos has been addressed in this project with guest rooms, workshop, craft room, common dining room and kitchen, and garden plots.
Now the building is completed, those of us who visit and live in the building have not been disappointed. No matter how dreary it is outside, the atrium and each unit are filled with light in the day, while at night the lighting is beautiful.
No one minds the deer who leave their footprints in our newly landscaped garden, and we enjoy watching the bufflehead and mallards who have returned to the pond.
Upon retirement 21 years ago, my husband and I moved from Prince George to Nanaimo with our daughter. We specifically chose Nanaimo for its size and closeness to the sea. As I was brought up in Victoria and Nova Scotia, the urge to return and live near the ocean was strong.
Nanaimo has never disappointed us. We attend amateur theatre (Belfry and Yellowpoint) and Western Edge Theatre and of course events at the Port Theatre. I enjoy the various parks close to the ocean, and the walk along the Nanaimo waterfront never fails to please and refresh. I am involved in the Canadian Federation of University Women, a womens’ issues reading group and an international foods group. I watch other people do the jogging, canoeing and biking.
Kaj and Doris Jensen
We (my husband doesn’t want to write anything longer than a shopping list) both grew up on the farm; Kaj was in Denmark, and I was in Michigan, but our parents in both places had cows and pigs and chickens, and grew largely the same crops. Our ethnic origins are both Teutonic, so when we met in the late 1960s, we had similar ideas about lifestyle.
Kaj had emigrated to Canada at the age of 20, worked in logging camps and then bought a fishing boat. I (in my teens) had acquired a pen-pal who lived in Quatsino Sound (on the north end of Vancouver Island) and, after making a couple of trips to BC, married her older brother, who was a fisherman, and was lost at sea the same year.
When Kaj and I were married we bought a house in Harewood (where Tim, our son, was born), and later we moved to Ucluelet (nearer the fishing grounds). Farmers, fisherman and boat owners need many practical skills, and Kaj continued to develop his; he built himself a 40-ft. trolling boat, and later we built a house.
I developed my homesteading knowledge too, gardening and using what nature provided on our property. I also did a lot of driving, chauffering Tim to dental appointments etc., as well as travelling to meet Kaj on harbour days.
In 1995 we both got our pensions. Government regulations were taking the fun out of fishing, so we bought a hobby farm at Coombs and enjoyed farming for the next dozen years. We knew that at some point we would need to downsize our lifestyle, but we were not thinking of a condo in the city. When we learned about Pacific Gardens and cohousing, and saw the property, it looked like something good to invest in—and now, here we are.
We can still look out and see trees beyond the garden plots, and Kaj is as busy as he wants to be with all the handyman projects that a new house needs. I like to read, and play with my computer. We enjoy the weekly potlucks, and the congenial atmosphere with friendly, familiar faces.
I was born in Nanaimo, but started school on Saltspring Island. Then the family moved to Ucluelet where we lived until I graduated. I usually went fishing with my father in the summer. It was on my father’s boat where I developed my attraction and interest in technology. I learned how the “Loran C” navigation system worked, how to operate the auto-pilot and other equipement, and pilot the boat (docking was more of a fine art handled by my father). It was here on the boat where I saw the nature of technology as being utilitarian, working for a purpose. It impressed me as the only reason for technology: to automate operations, save time and make our lives easier – the long unfulfilled promise of technology.
I went to BCIT, started the Robotics program, then switched to Computer Control systems, thinking this would lead to a dream job someday.
I graduated in 1994 and was lucky enough to find work with Glenayre Manufacturing, where I worked for 5 years and learned about the electronics manufacturing industry, manufacturing and assembly processes, product testing, quality control, inventory systems, engineering and saw ISO 9001 standards in action. I was laid off as part of the plan for shutting down the plant which was moved to the USA.
The layoff was a shock and a rude awakening; I was not fulfilled by that job or work. I took some time for myself to consider what I should do next. Considering the state of the electronics industry and the fact that one cannot work an entire life without changing careers, I started to think about leaving electronics behind. I dabbled in some software courses at BCIT and then VCC to prepare for University entry as I was now decided to go to Malaspina, but undecided as to what I would take. A job came up through an old Glenayre contact and so I took employment with Lexis Systems (now Cubic) to raise some money for education; it was a 2 year detour. I started my first year at Malaspina University-College in September 2006 and am studying for the bachelor of Business Administration. I hope this path will lead to an opportunity to apply my beliefs and principles relating to technology.
I am presently living on my parents’ farm and have entered into the Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community with my parents. I am attracted to the idea of cohousing because of the social aspect and my political and environmental interests.
Living in an idealistic intentional community has been interesting as well as invigorating to the mind and body. Cohousing has challenged many of my preconceived concepts.
There is a need to balance the freedoms and values amongst us on a regular basis. I value freedom and autonomy above all. Notions about lifestyle lead to meetings where we search for answers in our cohousing journey, as conflicting ethics often lead to animated discussions.
The variety of exotic foods matches the number of conversational topics here. Living in community does not mean opting out; rather I have found it means being very involved in the community of Nanaimo. I have volunteered with great gusto for the Symphony and other music-related gatherings. Newcomer meetings were good socially, and I even took a mindfulness course. I love the book club in the downtown core.
So far Pacific Gardens has been an exciting, fortunate chapter in my personal book of life. Thanks to my inspiring, open minded, lovable neighbours, we collectively are blazing the cohousing trail in Nanaimo. I am utterly dedicated to the downstairs exercise room in the early mornings and at night I snuggle up in decadent couches for upstairs movie sessions.
Other folks deal with composting and gardening. There is strength in sharing the many possibilities that this community offers. I feel totally committed to the dream.
I was born and raised at Sandy Cove in West Vancouver. I married, had a daughter and moved to Saskatchewan, Alberta and Northern BC for the better part of 10 years then came home to roost in West Vancouver again.
Having coffee at Trolls in Horseshoe Bay one morning, a friend said that he and his wife were moving to Nanaimo to live and one day when I came to work in Nanaimo, I discovered I could actually live here too so I set out to buy a home, set up a massage therapy practice, own a boat, and a vacation home and I have not looked back.
To my great delight, my daughter and her family decided to live on the Island too. They are now residing in Yellow Point on 5 acres. I was also able to buy a waterfront condo in Yellow Point at www.BlueMoonCondos.com which I consider my summer home and I am slowly working on the boat idea….but my desires to be in community with people has a stronger pull at the moment.
Nanaimo and the surrounding Gulf Islands contain more elder activists and alternative thinkers who are actually making their dreams a reality. Cob housing, windmills, grey water elimination, organic foods are a few of these dreams come true and cohousing, as a new way to live in community, belongs in this alternative thinking group. Vancouver Island generally and the Gulf Islands are filled with artists and musicians and farm markets and crafts of all kinds making living here a joy and providing all that is good and nourishing for the heart and soul.
When I fell in love with the Windsong Cohousing development in Langley I decided I would like to live in a cohousing community, and there was one being built in Nanaimo so I bought into Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community in December of 2009, four months after we received our occupancy permit on September 4 2009. The reason I remember this date is because I was heading to the PNE with my girl friend, on her birthday, to see the Gipsy Kings, and Mia Jongkind, another Pacific Gardens Cohousing purchaser, phoned me so she could have someone to celebrate with because we finally got our Occupancy Permit, and there was not a single soul available to celebrate this exciting news on that Labour Day weekend!!! I was glad to celebrate by phone with her…community eh!
I am greatly interested in continuing to experience the immense opportunities available to all who live in community. I want to continue to learn how to share, help, and brainstorm for the greatest possible results for all of us living here. I have been tested to the metal about what I thought I was about and what I thought community was about! One of my favourite expressions is ‘More heads are better than one’ and while it is difficult to let go and truly believe the truth of this statement, each time I do I discover the really great results for the ‘whole’ which includes the ‘one’. It is difficult to let go when one has been solely responsible for one’s survival, and then to share that responsibly, but when you live in community it is an essential part of the process. I also am a firm believer that ‘many hands make light work’ and I am experiencing that as true at Pacific Gardens over and over again. It is wonderful to have help while working on community projects whatever they may be.
So having lived at Pacific Gardens and experiencing myself in an ongoing living relationship to others, I have to say I am living in ‘right relationship’ and with all my relations xo.
I was born in Toronto in 1954 and studied Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston, graduating in 1978. I then embarked on a 30-odd year career as a weather forecaster, and worked in Esquimalt, Gander, Halifax, Whitehorse, Kelowna and Edmonton before retiring in the fall of 2009. I have been (and still am) an environmental, social and political activist. I enjoy reading and have a personal library of hundreds of books on various subjects which I also love to discuss. My interest in living in community goes back to my Whitehorse sojourn in the late 1990s. I was moving back to Vancouver Island after a casual work term (as a weather forecaster of course) in Edmonton and came to a potluck at Pacific Gardens in April of 2010. I decided to stay and never moved out.
Community Involvement and Activities of the Owners
“Community” extends well beyond the small circle of our group. The folks at Pacific Gardens are involved in a wide range of activities and volunteer with many community organizations. Some of them include:
Canadian Federation of
Canadian Mental Health Association
Coastal Community Credit Union
Computer Club – Knowledge Sharing
Council of Canadians
Dancing – Ballroom, Belly,
Equal Access Projects
Emergency Weather Shelter
Ethos Career Management
First Unitarian Fellowship
Folk Coffee Houses
Friends of Bill W.
|Global VillageGreen Drinks
Nanaimo Recycling Exchange
Partners in Health
Political Science Discussion Group
Pursuit of Excellence
Singing – Everybody Sings,
Stream & Wetland Keeping
Streets to Homes
Volunteer with the homeless