Cohousing isn’t new to Taos. Long before Valverde Commons (VC), decades prior to the 1960s communes, the Red Willow community lived within the adobe walls of Taos Pueblo. Cohousing US (cohousing.org) defines cohousing as “community designed to foster connection.” This means shared governance, resources, socializing and spaces.

Sandra “Sandy” Kinchen and Bob Draper are two residents of the VC cohousing community. Sandy joined in 2017; Bob was instrumental in its dreaming, planning and development.

Sandy, a painter who shows at Taos Artist Collective, notes that discovering VC and cohousing was serendipitous. She came to Taos, rented a home there, purchased the last lot and built a house. She describes her neighborhood as “built-in community.”

Valverde Commons’ Origins

Bob Draper – owner of Phoenix Mechanical and founder of Taos Community Chorus – contemplated cohousing with a group of Taos residents over three decades. Over time, the conversation expanded to encompass the realities of ageing in place; group members experienced this with their parents.

In 2006, a 14-acre property came on the market. It fit their cohousing criteria, including walking proximity to town. The land was purchased and subdivided into 28 lots and several common spaces. Bob and fellow resident Stephen Rose developed Valverde Commons with the group’s direction. Four acres were placed in trust and became Sunset Park, open to residents and public alike.

Community by Design

The structures at VC circle two acres that provide a hub for walking, gardening and gathering. The common house boasts a multipurpose area, extensive kitchen and a library. It hosts meetings, recreational activities and nonprofit events. The barn houses a workshop, shared equipment and space for creativity.

Governance includes a board of directors, covenants and a homeowner’s association. Most business decisions are decided by a simple majority. Committees, such as business, care and garden, realize VC’s day-to-day and long-term objectives.

Like all cohousing, VC’s guiding principles reflect the character and needs of the community. Residents, all 55 and older, are aware of the realities of growing older and intend to remain in their homes. Its vision statement reads in part: “We plan to support each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually as we age.” Bob asks, “Does it sound like a geriatric commune? Perhaps.”

The care committee has been crafting creative solutions for the community’s changing needs. A phone tree responds 24/7 to emergencies. Neighbors ensure those ill or injured have someone to pick up groceries and medications.

Sustainability

Each house in VC is as unique as its owner. Minimally, each residence must be able to collect water. Green building principles – intended to minimize environmental impact – are evident throughout the community: solar panels, passive solar design, trombe walls, water catchment and solar pre-heating tanks. Two homes are LEED certified (usgbc.org/leed/rating-systems/residential). Native and drought tolerant plants grow in the shared open space. The acequia has been restored where it flows through the community; residents participate in ditch cleanings in spring.

Come stroll through Sunset Park. Visit valverdecommons.com to learn more about Valverde Commons, its members and discover its properties for sale.

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