Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boot Packing

On a back-country hike last weekend, I ended up boot packing part of the way. Each step was a challenge,  but I knew that those behind me were benefiting from my hard work and in the end I would have a nearly perfect run on my snowboard. It dawned on me this was the perfect analogy for my friends and clients at Millworks Co-housing.

The original Bellingham Co-housing did a lot for paving the way for more co-housing communities in Bellingham. I can only imagine the hundreds of hours put into working with the City officials to create the code that has allowed these two unique, special communities come to fruition. 10 years after the Bellingham Co-housing was completed, the Millwork community first made its offer on the property. And although the code was in place, there was much work to be done with the City to get the approvals for what is now Millworks. That was just one of the many, many hurdles overcame to build out Millworks.

We have been approached by several people wanting to know more about the process, the planning, the costs, and so on. Each co-housing community is unique and varied as its in habitants. However, there is no need to recreate the wheel. These two local co-housing communities are trail blazers, boot packers, leaders.

Because of the overwhelming interest in co-housing we are offering a tour of Millworks and will be releasing plans of our next co-housing venture March 11th and 12th.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It Takes a Village

When you were a youth did you roam the neighborhood? Did you have to be home by dinner? Did you know the people that lived near you? Most of us did, but times have changed. It's no longer "safe" to let our children explore without our watchful eyes. Electronics have replaced rocks being thrown in a pond. Kids are not walking to school, but rather driven, even if only a few blocks. Our kids don't know our neighbors. 

While the reasoning behind this shift in "safety" for our children is understood, it doesn't make it any less of a shame that their freedom to explore stops at our property lines. This is what I love about co-housing. Intentional communities create a safe place where kids can explore within their community.

It takes a village to raise a child.

The proverb is from Igbo and Yoruba regions of Nigeria and the basic meaning is that raising a child is a communal effort. It is to be taken to mean that the responsibility lies not only with the parents, but also with the extended family and in some cases the community.

I look forward to seeing the Millworks community develop into the village. The children within this community are not only going to have loving homes with wonderful parents, but friends and neighbors that will also have a lasting, positive, impact on their development.The parents should feel safe to open the doors and let them all run wild with creative abandon knowing that there is a community behind them to catch them if they fall.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Brisk and Busy Close to the Year

At the end of the year we are supposed to look back and reflect on the year that was. Inspite of the down economy, the Millworks Co-housing project is off the ground. It sure feels good to not only be working, but working on a project that is meaningful and with positive affects on the current economy. In this small town, I can feel good about coming to a site where its friends and community members earning a living building the homes with products and supplies bought or salvaged locally.

Decemeber 17th we held a small "winter warm up" to thank all the folks that have helped, show to others what is possible, and celebrate the success of Millworks. It was an amazing turn out. We had people from all throughout the puget sound to visit.  Thanks to all that came. It was a great learning experience for us and hopefully we were able to share something too.

So, cheers to 2010! And bring in on for an even better year in 2011!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Aiki Winter Warm Up and Open House

Celebrating Green Building, Community Development, and a Strong Local Economy
December 17th 2-4pm
Millworks Co-housing, 2600 Mill Ave

The year is coming to a close and we at Aiki Homes feel like it is time to celebrate another successful year and the birth of the Millworks Co-housing project. So come celebrate green building, community development, and a stronger local economy with Aiki and check out the Millworks Co-housing project in process. 

Come to enjoy warm beverages and appetizers and learn about Bellingham's newest sustainable community!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Tempest

The well oiled machine of Aiki is in full throttle. Visiting the site is amazing. Framing crews, siding crews, electricians, plumbers....all working as well orchestrated parts of a complex machine. I do what I can do keep out of the way and watch it all unfold. Luke, our fabulous foreman, reminds me of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia; pointing, directing, and creating. Pardon the analogy...but this community is like a flower seed taking root, shooting up, and in no time bloom.

Last week however, the Millworks site stopped to a halt when the sub-arctic temperatures came along with snow, ice and lots of wind. The Sunday following the snow, I took a walk through the site. It was beautiful, a deserted paradise. I could imagine the community that will occupy the homes all outside playing and enjoying the magic the first snow fall brings. But for now, I soaked in the quite and beauty.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Creating Community

I intended on starting this before we started construction. But since groundbreaking two months ago, Aiki Homes has been full steam ahead without looking back or taking the time for blogging. I hope to use this as a way to share with everyone the creation of the Millworks Co-housing community. 

So here it begins....

The Millworks Co-housing began as a collaborative effort by people dedicated to seeing Bellingham grow intelligently, beautifully, and with our community and environment in mind. Through the process, Millworks developed into an 8 home co-housing community located at 2600 Mill Ave in Happy Valley of Bellingham. This project will be of demonstration quality, promoting affordability, green construction and development practices, as well as creative infill and smart growth.

Homes within the development have been custom designed with a focus on sustainability, energy efficiency, utilizing passive solar gain, and minimizing impact. All the homes are single-family detached home range in size and design to create a truly unique community. Shared amenities allow the homes to be smaller than average with a common house with kitchen, library and study room, guest quarters, and meeting space. All homes will be certified Built Green and ENERGY STAR.

The Millworks co-housing site is an ideal location for smart growth and low-impact development. Located close to schools, markets, and bus lines, this high-density development provides easy access to services for the Millworks homeowners. Low-impact development practices will be utilized throughout the site including on-site stormwater management and emphasis on permeable surfaces, raingardens, and native landscaping. The Millworks community is planning a group car share program to minimize parking, driving, and costs. The site is also home to a .45 acre wetland restoration and preservation project. 

The Millworks Co-housing community has already become a paradigm for Bellingham’s building community. With homeowners integrally involved in the process, this development has character and spirit. 
The Millworks site before construction started
The site cleared waiting for compost berm

Sam and Ruthann's radiant heat and concrete floors!

Fizzano's sunny southern spot