Summer Opening at a Commune Near You!

June 9, 2010 by

The Apex Belltown Cooperative has a couple of openings coming up this summer!

Yep – the same Apex Co-op that was previously posted about here & here.

Affordable downtown Seattle living in a 20+ person community-owned building mere blocks from the Pike Place Market.

Check out the website for further details and information – the first round of interviews will be held on June 30th for an opening August 1st.

A New Local Commune!

April 8, 2010 by

How did I not know bout this co-housing project until now?

Woodard Lane Co-Housing in Olympia, WA looks pretty darn close to exactly the kind of community I daydream about with centralized gardens & chickens, a center house, cars kept separate, housing near the woods, workshop, kid play areas, porches & smiles. My oh my!

The only thing they got against them is the price range. Not quite artist budget. But it’s still really cool to see some of the imaginary commune “vision” actually alive out there in the world!

cottages are cute

April 5, 2010 by

Missing all the cool studio spaces, gardens, beehives etc. in the center, but you get the idea.


The Hand Sculpted House

April 5, 2010 by

Hand Sculpted House

The Hand-Sculpted House
A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage

Coming across this book nearly a decade ago changed how I thought about the basics of housing.

So of course what better place to share than here?

Has anyone out there tried it?
Have you ever visited or stayed a night in a cob cottage?
Have you taken a workshop you can recommend?

Cooperative Spacings

March 31, 2010 by

After posting all about the Apex Belltown Co-op I realized I completely left out sharing my actual studio space with you! So here’s a little tour of my little 220 square foot art & private living space within my community household. To my left is a queen size loft bed with a closet underneath. Beyond that is pure studio work space.

In the comments of my last post introducing the Apex, Terri posed some questions:

Q: do you feel cramped?
A: Yes, actually I am starting to. Right now I’m getting ready for several art shows and I have started yearning for a studio space separate from where I sleep. Most recently aggravated by literally tripping over one of my pieces I had left out on the floor the night before. Yikes!

Q: do you ever long for a little privacy? a space of your own?
A: Yes & yes. My room & studio is private, but it is located directly across the hall from a pretty social kitchen. It can be difficult sometimes to be in full on creative mode and then step out for a glass of water or some such and end up sucked into conversation and a social scene. My own self-discipline is something I struggle with constantly within my community relationships.

Q: is there a shared studio space?
A: Oh my do I WISH! There has been talk of creating something – a shared darkroom / studio / guest bedroom but we’ve never been able to quite figure it out thus far. I think that is something that is best to set up right from the beginning rather than trying to add in / build later on. If I were to start my dream cooperative this would be usage for the largest room available!

Q: besides the thought of chickens, what would you do differently?
A: Either pick up my household and move it entirely – a corner double lot in one of Seattle’s great neighborhoods is often dreamed about – OR that notwithstanding I’d replace the roof entirely with a green roof system for a true community garden / green space. It also would be grand if we could combine the 4 kitchens into just one giant commercial kitchen space. It’s too easy to get insulated into your kitchen group and thereby go weeks without seeing some of my housemates! I would also love to restructure some of the room layouts to better accommodate families.
So yeah – basically I’d remodel the entire building!

Now, if I were TRULY dreaming I would envision something similar to Cae Mabon in Wales – part eco village and part art project – what’s not to love? One of these days I’ll take a Cobb Building Workshop – I will I will!

can we build it? yes we can!

March 30, 2010 by

Presenting The Dougta Shelter.

I think this is pretty close to the Delta, don’t you?  ;)

Daydreaming from a Co-op to a Commune

March 28, 2010 by

Upstairs Lounge

Three years ago I moved to Seattle to live in an artist housing community called the Apex Belltown Co-op. I had spent my college years yearning to build a yurt village and live in a strong community.  When I found a co-op located 3 blocks away from the Pike Place Market and with a view of the Puget Sound it was an incredible opportunity I couldn’t resist.

So I moved in to join a household of 20. Artists, poets, musicians, activists & mayhem!

The Apex was the old Utah hotel that a group of artists got together in 1982 to purchase and renovate. It is set up somewhat dorm style with individual bedrooms but shared kitchens, lounges & baths. 4 kitchens, 8 bathrooms, 2 lounges and a rooftop deck to be exact. And after 25 years of artists passing through you can imagine the interesting touches!

The Swan TubOne of the original members was an incredible mosaic artist and her work can be found throughout the building. Such as the Swan Tub… and the Ode to Celery kitchen nook.

swan tub

Ode to Celery

Living with 20+ folks can be challenging… open and earnest communication is key. But it can be incredibly enriching as well. And it isn’t anything really like I thought it would be. I expected unwashed dishes & constant parties. But surprisingly that wasn’t the case at all. We’re all adults who respect each other. Dinner parties are common and there is always someone around to lend a helping hand. Household chores are on a rotation so each person’s time spent on housework is minimal yet the place is upkept.
Except for the bikes everywhere. Being downtown bike storage is key and you can find bikes tucked away in every spare spot throughout the building. Which is kinda decorative.

The Apex is my extended family and my peer group. Living here has changed me in ways I am only just beginning to fathom.

Yet I still find myself yearning for that Yurt village. And chickens. Some cooperative chickens would just about make my day.

I’ll be piping in here at the Imaginary Commune with cooperative living insights and some daydreams of my own. Feel free to leave me a comment about co-op life curiosities!


March 28, 2010 by

Yeah, I know, you were hoping for a cow joke.  Sorry, not this time.  ;)  Instead an invitation to check out The Herd designed by Olson Kundig Architects.

We’ll have quite the compound, from roulottes to yurts to these “modern alternative to camping”.  Can’t wait to see what else.

Me? I still plan on living in the Delta Shelter (also by Olson Kundig Architects).


Tiny Possibilities

March 25, 2010 by

I’m a huge fan of the tiny house movement. I can see some models fitting into a communal village because they are portable, space efficient, and can be built by a team of patient people in a short amount of time. In a warmer climate, such as the one I live in, most living occurs outdoors, and obviously, this is where “communing” is apt to take place. For a stylish little place to sleep and keep a few personal things, Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are pretty dreamy. The gypsy vardos are quaint, but seems like they’d provide about as much room as my 10 ft vintage trailer does now. My thought is to turn that into an art studio or kid’s weatherproof playhouse and build a tiny house, or yurt, for warmth and cozy living among others.

To leave more room for raised beds and giant brick ovens, no?

Circle the wagons!


March 23, 2010 by

In response to Lisa’s question of “vision,”

Here is an image straight from one of my fantasies.  There is an incredible flickr set of roulottes that I frequently drool over.  I like natural, simple, and all, but this gets me all shivery, this gypsy stuff.

I’ve been dreaming of a sort of art/spirit retreat somewhere in the mountains with a main house and a collection of roulottes.

Tell me this doesn’t make you want to sing.

I’ve found a few related roulotte (aka vardo, gypsy caravan, gypsy wagon) sites:

Daphne’s Caravans

The Tiny House Blog (not usually specifically gypsy but a reeeeally great blog)

and of course, The Hermitage (swoon!)

there’s another site or two that I can’t find, but will come back and add.