This is an introduction to Cobb Hill - a cohousing community, research
institute, and organic farm -- all experiments in sustainable living being
created in Hartland, VT. We hope you will find this information useful
for learning who we are, where we’re going, how far we’ve come, and how
you might participate.
This Web Site is Sponsored by Cooperative
Sports On-line Magazine.
You will find here:
How to get Acquainted With Members
1. Brief History
5. Land and Design Plan
Clustered Housing Site Plan
6. The Sustainability Institute
Common House Floor Plan (preliminary)
Photograph from High Pasture
Before and After from Upper Pasture
Photos: An autumn walk through the lower
Individual House Floor Plans (Please note
these are preliminary designs)
7. Projected Timeline
8. Levels of Participation
9. List of Members
There are several ways to get better acquainted
with the project and with members: (top)
Make contact with a member (see section 9 for phone
numbers, etc.) to introduce yourself and ask questions. All of us welcome
these inquiries and value new ideas and information.
Join our lively email list-serv, through which we discuss everything from
the agenda for the next meeting to timely concerns and issues. To subscribe
to this list, contact Mike Yacavone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can listen as long as you like, and are welcome to introduce yourself
and pitch in on the conversation whenever you wish.
Come to an introductory meeting, designed to give newcomers a chance to
visit Cobb Hill, walk on the land, view design plans, meet some of the
decision partners and have your initial questions answered. These meetings
will be planned as interest and schedules dictate. To learn about
the next introductory meeting, please call Beth Sawin at 802-436-1393 or
email her (email@example.com). See
travel directions below.
Attend monthly community meetings, after you have attended an introductory
meeting. We use these to get better acquainted, conduct business,
educate ourselves about sustainable community, and make decisions.
Sometimes we have presentations from architects, naturalists, planners,
lawyers, etc. We take time on meeting days for conversation, outdoor
exercise and potluck meals.
Meeting Dates for 1999 are: (top)
Meetings are usually 9:30 to 4 or 5, followed by a pot-luck at the Kirns’
home. In order to accommodate the number of people attending, we
have started to meet in available public facilities in Hartland.
Please contact a DP for this information in the week of the meeting.
|Sunday, January 10
||Sunday, May 16
||Sunday, September 19
|Saturday, February 13
||Saturday, June 12
||Saturday, October 9
|Sunday, March 14
||Sunday, July 11
||Sunday, November 14
|Saturday, April 10
||Saturday, August 14
||Saturday, December 11
Exit 9 off Interstate 91 at Hartland/Windsor exit; follow signs
RT12/RT5 North towards Hartland
At village of Hartland 3 Corners, turn left onto Route 12 towards Woodstock
Take second right after sign for Skunk Hollow Tavern onto Mace Hill
Road; Pass Hunt farm with two silos on your left.
For Rice-Sawin home take first left after Hunt farm onto Spencer
Meadow Road; their home is #13 – a reddish-brown cape.
For Kirn home, continue on Mace Hill Road, which bends left
at Y for about ½ mile to Kirn driveway on left
1. Brief History (top)
Discussion about co-housing, community, and sustainability had been happening
for some time among a group of people that includes several current Cobb
Hill members and friends. Active search for land began in February 1996,
and continued for 18 months, although the Curtis and Hunt farm properties
in Hartland were found on the very first land search outing. Seeing this
land gave concreteness to the vision of a cohousing community. People met
to talk, walk the land, and figure out how to go about turning a vision
into a reality. The Sustainability Institute was registered as a corporation
and received nonprofit status from the IRS in 1997. In December 1997, The
Sustainability Institute purchased the two Hartland farms. In 1998 we formed
a limited liability company (LLC), hired a design team, chose a building
site, started planning "sustainable systems," and wrestled with challenging
budgets. Most importantly, we have started to get to know one another and
to build the social structures through which we can work together to create
Cobb Hill is an intentional community of people who want to explore the
challenge of living in ways that are materially sufficient, socially and
ecologically responsible, humanly rewarding, and satisfying to the soul.
As a rural community, one of our interests is sustainable land management
-- organic farming, ecological forestry, minimization of waste. Another
interest is the skills of community: sharing, responsibility, compassion,
communication, consensus building, conflict resolution, appreciation of
diversity, and love. We believe that these skills are critically necessary
to bring the larger society to sustainability and sufficiency, and we want
to practice them to the best of our ability.
The lifestyle of the community will be frugal in terms of quantity,
rich in terms of quality. It will strive for a sane balance between privacy
and communality, labor and leisure, freedom and order. Decisions will be
made by consensus and, insofar as possible, according to what will be best
for the community, for the land and for the world over the long term.
Cobb Hill members will earn their living variously from the land, through
work for the Sustainability Institute, through teaching or workshops inspired
by the land, through arts or crafts based on the land, and through outside
jobs. We will not be a non-profit organization; we will pay taxes to the
town of Hartland and participate in town affairs. We will work toward self-sufficiency
of food, water, energy, building materials, and waste-processing.
We expect that members will have a commitment to sustainability and
community, responsibility to others, openness to learning, fiscal responsibility,
and a willingness to do one’s share of the work.
Each member household will own both a share in the commonly owned land
and private equity in a living unit. Decisions about operating budgets,
capital investments, resale, and land use will be made by the membership
in a consensus process.
3. Purpose (top)
Community arises when individuals form a whole greater than the sum of
its parts. Sustainability and community both require long-term thinking
and a dedication to something larger than our narrowly defined selves.
We have embarked on a journey toward sustainable living as a small community,
because we feel that a small scale is necessary for learning and practicing
the skills of cooperation and right livelihood.
This purpose statement lends guidance as we journey forward together.
We intend to be guided by values and principles, rather than by expedience.
This statement will always be under development, as our membership learns
Our purpose is to learn, practice, and share the art of living sustainably,
productively, joyfully, in ways that replenish ourselves, our communities,
and the natural world, and that deepen our spiritual development and awareness.
We come to this venture with humility, acknowledging there is no single
path to sustainability. We will pursue our path to the best of our ability,
and refrain from judging those who explore other paths. We come willing
to experiment, to tell the truth about our experiments, and to learn from
our mistakes. We can't claim to follow the principles listed here perfectly.
They point out the direction we want to take, not a place we have reached.
4. Principles (top)
We will respect the beauty, sacredness, and interconnectedness of all life
and the unity, power, and mystery of the universe. We will strive to reflect
these truths in our lives, farm and community.
In our physical structures and our work with the land we will strive to
create the kind of beauty that comes from mindfulness, holism, and elegant
We will work with native and sustainably harvested materials and energy
sources, and with designs appropriate to a rural Vermont setting.
We will think on the scale of the whole landscape and the long term.
We recognize the beauty of loving relationships as well as the physical
beauty of buildings and land.
Our community will welcome people of all races, religions, ages, sexes,
sexual orientations, and incomes.
We will not equate people’s worth with the dollar amount they can command
in the market. We will assume that each person’s time, independence, obligations,
and pleasures are neither more nor less important than each other person’s.
We aspire to right livelihood, practicing integrity in our dealings with
people, nature, and money.
We will live simply, acknowledging that material simplicity often requires
a commitment to complex solutions.
We will strive to satisfy our non-material needs non-materially.
To the fullest extent possible, we will derive our physical and spiritual
sustenance from the local land and people.
We will use natural resources -- such as soil, forest, and water -- with
high efficiency, in ways that enhance their purity and productivity.
We will make decisions based on the long term well-being of the land and
its human and non-human inhabitants.
We will work together to care for the land, the common buildings and the
shared resources of the community.
We will experiment with techniques and technologies to find more sustainable
ways of living. We will share our successes and failures honestly and actively
engage with others working toward sustainability.
Finally, since the world often tells us we must sacrifice one of the above
values in order to achieve another, we need to affirm our belief that over
the long term and in the widest context all values do reinforce each other.
When physical, monetary, or time limitations seem to imply the need to
compromise any of these values, we will use that apparent dilemma as an
indicator that we need to look more deeply, to slow down and center ourselves,
to find ways to simplify, share, or extend our time or space horizons,
in order to discover the natural synergy that makes all values rise or
We will found our actions on respect for ourselves, for each other, and
for the biosphere.
We will find ways to work together that build on our diverse strengths.
We will identify and engage with our conflicts, while working toward solutions.
We will avoid isolation and indifference; participate fully; communicate
honestly, patiently, and compassionately.
We will allow the many aspects of our personalities and talents to flourish,
encouraging time spent in reflection, meditation, appreciating nature,
and other creative pursuits.
We will take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, avoiding negative
thinking and assumptions that lead us to create enemies. When tempted by
distrust and fear, we will turn toward trust and love.
We will respect and support both individuals and families within the community.
We will ground ourselves in our own farm community and also participate
in, learn from, and support the communities around us.
5. Land and Buildings (top)
Cobb Hill is located in the Upper Valley region of the Connecticut River
valley, about a 20-minute drive south (on Interstate 91 or Route 5) of
Hanover and Lebanon, N.H. and White River Junction, Vermont.
We have purchased two adjoining former dairy farms, each 120-140 acres,
in Hartland Four Corners, one of the villages that comprise the town of
Hartland, Vermont. The Hunt farm, with the farmhouse just half a block
from the village, has barns and silos, 12 acres of prime farm land, high
pastures with beautiful views, and a large regenerating forest. The Curtis
farm, more remote from the village, has a house, barn, and outbuildings,
another 10 acres of bottom land, more pastures, a mature forest (including
a 1000-maple sugarbush), and a small stream and pond. Both farms are on
east-facing slopes of a north-south valley. The Hunt house, built in the
1930s, is plain and solid; the Curtis house is an old, charming, Vermont
The farms became ours on December 1, 1997. The Curtis house and 2 acres
of land has been sold to a member family of our community, with repurchase
rights. The Hunt house is now rented to another member family, while we
design and build our new homes and common house. When this is accomplished,
the Hunt house will become the Sustainability Institute office.
We have sufficient land for the construction
of 20-22 housing units (tightly clustered) plus a common house -- and
for serious farming and forestry, not only to provision ourselves, but
also for some of us to make a living from the land. We will protect the
open land with permanent conservation easements.
On our substantial acreage, we have chosen a building site which is
close to the village neighborhood and low on a hillside, where water is
abundant and soils are good. Though we value privacy and will design for
it, we also want to be part of the larger community, open to people who
want to work or visit with us. We imagine a farmstand, craft workshops,
educational and recreational activities that will enable us to participate
in life with the larger local and Upper Valley community.
It will take us 3 years to qualify the
farms for organic certification. For the first two of those years,
we will not try to farm in Hartland; we will just work organic matter into
the fields, do soil tests, and bring the land into fitness. We are working
out procedures for sugaring, grazing, and other land-management issues
during these transition years.
We have chosen a team of professionals to help us site, design, engineer,
and permit a 20 unit housing development. The chief architect is Jeff Schoellkopf
of Warren VT; our energy systems consultant is Marc Rosenbaum of Plainfield
NH. Decisions to date include:
We are working out agreements to assure each family will have equity
in its private house plus a share in the land and the common house. We
have formed a limited liability company (LLC) to oversee design, permitting,
and construction. All decision partners become members of the LLC when
they buy into the community. When construction is finished, the LLC will
sell the property to a homeowners association (also made up of all decision
partners) and go out of existence.
A common house with kitchen and dining room, children’s play space, apartments
for residents who will use the common kitchen and dining room, and guest
Homes will be clustered on the hillside near the common house to minimize
land impact, to emphasize community, and to realize savings from community-level
water, sewage, and heating systems.
Less road and car space and more shared outdoor space, such as courtyards
or "town greens," where people can gather and children can play safely.
Design of homes and the common house with the best energy and water efficiencies
and green materials we can afford. We will experiment with sustainability
technologies (e.g. composting toilets and solar hot water) to the extent
we can afford them and obtain permits for them.
High-quality, durable, beautiful construction. Thoughtful landscaping that
respects the natural beauty of the hillside and woods.
Relatively small homes, counting on the common space as an extension of
our homes for such activities as some common cooking and meals, laundry,
children’s play space, guest quarters, library, indoor exercise (yoga,
dance), crafts and carpentry, and big-item storage (canoes, bicycles, etc.)
Variation in home designs to accommodate families of various sizes and
needs, with common features agreed upon by all, to allow economies of scale
as well as a coherent appearance.
The homeowners association will manage the common property and enforce
governing rules decided upon by the community. We don’t know yet whether
this will be a coop, a condominium, a community land trust, or some other
We will consider developing the farm as a number of separate small businesses,
perhaps working toward a single cooperative business. We plan to establish
our own mortgage fund.
5A Individual House Floor Plans
These were first posted on this page December
6. Sustainability Institute
The Sustainability Institute is a nonprofit think/do tank devoted to analysis,
planning, and communication that furthers sustainable, equitable, and sufficient
societies in all parts of the world. Its central strength is top-quality
systems thinking, supplemented with dynamic modeling and excellent numerical
analysis. The Institute will assemble expertise in sustainable management
of resources, especially water, land, forests, energy, people and synergistic
The Institute is working on the "big picture." Cobb Hill will work on
the practical implementation of that picture in one particular place. The
Institute and community will constantly inform each other. For more information
write to: Sustainability Institute, PO Box 174, Hartland Four Corners,
7. Projected Timeline (top)
Fall 1998 -- Site design, hydrology, well-drilling, engineering design.
Winter 1998-99 -- Act 250 (Vermont’s land use law) permitting, water supply
permitting, sewage discharge permitting.
Winter 1998-99 -- Detailed design for common house and individual homes.
Secure construction loan, select construction company.
Late Spring-Fall 1999 -- Construction. Set up mortgage fund. Finalize legal
documents for homeowners association. Finalize land easements.
Late 1999/Early 2000 -- LLC sells property to homeowners association. MOVE
8. Levels of participation (top)
Decision Partners (DPs)
Decision partners have become members of Cobb Hill and of the LLC. Each
current DP household has made a $20,000 commitment to the LLC to fund design
and permitting costs. A similar commitment is expected from each new DP
household. This payment is fully at risk.
Individual or families who wish to become decision partners will take
the following steps, as have present decision partners:
Consulting Partners (CPs)
Consult with a current decision partner to explore interest in Cobb Hill
membership. Identify that family to become your contact/mentor/sponsor
and to help you schedule next steps. We encourage interested people to
participate actively in community and committee meetings and tasks as a
way to get to know other members and to become known to members.
Meet with members of the Finance Committee to talk over the financial obligations
of participation. We are eager to accommodate a variety of financial situations,
while ensuring the financial health of the community.
Through your contact family, schedule a "clearness" meeting with the decision
partners. Clearness meetings are inspired by the Quaker tradition; they
involve quiet conversation and silence as a way for all to explore interest,
concerns, opportunities, questions and, finally, the wisdom of taking this
step into full commitment.
Consulting partners are those who are interested in Cobb Hill though
not ready to commit to membership. They participate actively in monthly
meetings and are involved in committees and other work. They have significant
influence on decisions.
Consulting partners are asked to contribute $250/year/household, which
will be included in their contribution to Cobb Hill common costs if they
decide to commit, but is otherwise non-refundable.
Anyone who is interested is invited to get to know the Cobb Hill community
by following the email conversations, coming to an introductory meeting,
and thereafter attending community meetings. There is no charge for
We welcome dialogue with persons who may be able and willing to invest
substantial funds in the Cobb Hill pooled mortgage fund, which will be
developed at a reasonable rate of interest.
9. List of Members - Decision Partners (top)
|Judith and Phil Bush
RR1, Box 338
Sharon, Vt. 05065
|Judith was until recently a social worker at Casey Family
Services. She left this long-time job in January 1998 to find ways to combine
old and current interests in new ventures. Phil is finance director at
NH - Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center; grew up on a small farm; is
"a guitarist/gardener who talks to cats and likes math."
|Peter and Ann Forbes
Route 1, Box 24
Canaan, NH 03741
Willoughby, born April 1998
|Peter is New England coordinator for Trust for Public Land
and a photographer. Ann is an anthropologist writing about land/community
relationships in Nepal, and an adjunct professor in the Environmental Studies
Program at Dartmouth. Both are involved in the Center for the Good Life
project arising from the legacy of Helen and Scott Nearing
|Edie Farwell and Jay Mead
638 17th Ave.
San Francisco CA 94121
W 415-561-6100 X 120 (Edie)
Cedar (4) and Silas (born Jan 1998)
|Edie administers the Association for Progressive Communication,
a worldwide network of environmental and other progressive organizations,
seeking to communicate and work together. Jay is an artist, art teacher,
carpenter, and practitioner of street theater and puppetry. Also a core
member of Live Power CSA and Argonne Community Garden.
Both are Dartmouth grads.
|Ellen Furnari and Jan Passion
129 Shady Nook Lane
St. George VT 05495-8034
Serena and Rachelle - ages 15 & 19
|Ellen is currently consulting on various sustainability
and philanthropic projects. She was formerly the director of the Ben &
Jerry's Foundation and the Center For a New American Dream, as well as
a psychotherapist. Jan, recently back from a six month spiritual retreat
is a psychotherapist in private practice. He has dreams of someday working
in areas of global conflict. He enjoys sailing, yoga, raquet ball and volunteering
on the local rescue squad. Jan and Ellen are members of Servas International
and host refugees awaiting sanctuary in Canada.
|Marie and Art Kirn
RR1, Box 271
Hartland VT 05048
WT (Marie) 802-295-2604
|Marie is director of Hospice VNH, a visiting nurse program
that serves 71 towns in the Upper Valley. Art has retired from consulting
and business to pursue his interest in the arts. Along with Dana Meadows,
the Kirns are the opera buffs of the community.
|Stephen Leslie and Kerry Gawalt
PO Box 58
Plainfield NH 03781
|Horse farmers, have farmed in NY state, Montana, and Idaho,
now run a market garden in Plainfield NH.
Stephen has interests in yoga, art, and writing in addition to farming.
Kerry grew up at Hawthorne Valley farm in NY State.
They are now living at Foundation Farm (Dana's place) with 2 Norwegian
Fjord horses, 1 dog, 2 cats.
|Donella H. (Dana) Meadows
PO Box 58
95 Daniels Road
Plainfield NH 03781
|Farmed organically and communally for 25 years in Upper
Valley (sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, fruit, veggies, flowers).
Teaches part-time at Dartmouth
Writes environmental newspaper column
Organizes international environmental network (the Balaton Group)
|Phil Rice and Beth Sawin
13 Spencer Meadow
Jenna, 17 months old.
|Both biologists; Phil recently led a research team at a
biotech firm, Beth completed her PhD at MIT. Both now work for the Sustainability
Institute on commodity modeling and environmental education.
Avid gardeners, working for FI*,
* (FI=financial independence, as defined in the book Your Money or Your
Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin)
421 Walden Street
Cambridge MA 02138
|Master's in system dynamics from MIT.
Own consulting practice.
Especially good at designing user-interfaces and management games.
Working for the Sustainability Institute on community growth modeling and
forest product industry modeling.
Decision Partners-in-Waiting (going through the process of becoming DPs)
|Delia Clark and Tim Traver
PO Box 45
Taftsville VT 05073
Tim at VINS 802-457-2779
Kal 14, Mollie 10, Toben 8
|Delia coordinates the Valley 2000& Beyond Project and
teaches community planning at Antioch College
Tim is director of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science
|Peter Kawecki and Jane Olds
PO Box 181
Hartland Four Corners VT 05049
5 children, ages 7-18. Clara, Sam,
David, Teresa, Leon (in ascending order)
|Peter teaches part-time at Vermont Technical College. Jane
is a self-employed physical therapist. The family is currently living in
the Hunt farmhouse.
|Sophie and Matt Starr
668 Coventry Road
Berkeley, CA 94707
Lucas (12/25/93) and Casey (4/98)
|Sophie is a self employed landscaper, pre school volunteer teacher,
and fulltime mom. Interests include interior design, flowers, gardening,
backpacking, kayaking, and yoga.
Matt is an elementary school teacher, now teaching third grade, finishing
up his masters thesis on progressive literacy models. He enjoys outdoor
sports, vegetable gardening, yoga, writing, and being a dad. Travel is
a family passion. They recently returned from a year of life overseas,
spent mostly in Indonesia and Asia, in time to rest up for the birth of
Sustainable Living Network,
an informal affiliation of people in the United States and around the world
who seek to deepen their understanding and practice of sustainable
This page has been visited (the hit count)
times since 11/19/98.