Tres Placitas, a small community in Santa Fe, has a fairly long history as a co-housing village, but has struggled with unity and community. Long-time resident Isabel Partlett Lipscomb says there were several factors that contributed to past disconnections.
The community decided to save money for a common house, rather than build one at the beginning. Later, several vocal residents opposed the savings plan, arguing that it wasn’t worth the wait and the money. As a compromise, the community did build an outdoor patio for a gathering space, but the land for a community building remains empty.
“Common meals can be the glue that holds a community together,” says Isabel. The community has never had a regular meals program as a result and has had erratic periods of home-based potlucks instead.
Perhaps more critically, says Isabel, the community struggled with the pure concensus model of decision making. When strong minority voices spoke up, there was no effective mechanism for movement, compromise and peace. Residents had different views of and background with concensus. Personalities clashed and feuds continued without resolution. Perhaps, speculates Isabel, strong personalities can create more conflict in a smaller community. Finally, the community decided to switch to a traditional voting process when concensus was blocked.
Still, says Isabel, it’s been a wonderful place to raise a child, and a quiet, semi-rural setting for a family who wanted to live with others in a supportive environment. Many positive and loving connections have been forged. People give each other rides, help in times of trouble, and share conversations. The community’s goat cooperative has been a delightful addition and Isabel was a milker and raised her son on fresh goat milk. Isabel and her husband can let their son hang out with the other teenagers in the community and know that he will be safe.
Tres Placitas includes open acreage with trees, shrubs, grasses and meeting spots. Children have a variety of spots in which to play and adults can find quiet space to contemplate. Isabel continues to feel optimistic and positive about the community. Several individuals have recently left the community and new families have moved in. Isabel has taken on the role of Board President of the homeowners association and is optimistic.
Communities evolve over time, says Isabel. Isabel is helping to organize monthly community brunches to bring folks together. This community has had its challenges, but there is always hope for growth and change. She and her family are not leaving any time soon!