Present Day Putney Commons:
Our life together continues to evolve both as an owners’ group and as a resident group, which is a combination of owners and tenants. We are open to children and people of all ages and currently range from a young couple to active married and single elders with visiting grandchildren. Our surrounding neighbors include children who love to run in the meadow and family dog walkers. We have established a large fenced vegetable garden which we work in common, designating plots to each interested owner or neighbor. We order seeds together, help one another in the work of planting, tending, composting, and harvesting our own produce as well as that which we grow for the Putney Food Shelf.
We have no Putney Commons Owners Association economy, no hierarchical structures. Our business meetings continue to utilize consensus; it works well for us. Being the smallest cohousing community in the country, we enjoy an unhurried pace and time to hear everyone’s point of view. We meet 8-10 times a year for 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on our agenda. This year we interspersed our business sessions with several fun kayaking ventures.
What kinds of decisions are made? Having built homes and gardens, we have turned our attention to other needs such as a long term approach to tree care (of which we completed the first phase in 2011.) Our woods includes black locust, cottonwood, apple, ash, elm, maple, cherry, poplar, and pine. We are also developing trails that link the upper meadow where we live with the lower meadow and its brook.
We engage with the larger Putney Community individually and as a group. Twice in four years we’ve hosted one Putney’s community suppers serving 150-200 people. These take place in a nearby former church owned by the Putney Historical Society. We have also twice fed the international puppeteers who come alternate years to join our local Sandglass Puppet Theatre for the Puppets in the Green Mountains festival. One of us houses visiting musicians for the Yellow Barn Music festival; another volunteers with the twice-weekly Putney Food Shelf at the Putney Community Center that abuts our property. When a local fire left Putney-ites homeless, we took in several for the transition.
At the current time we have suspended our original plans for a common house. There are numerous venues in nearby town buildings for larger gatherings – the library, the Friends Meeting House, the Putney community center adjacent to Putney Commons. We also discovered that the living-dining areas of our homes and the open field serve us well for our meetings, potlucks, and neighborhood parties.