A review of the West Coast Communities Conference (WCCC 2018) — cosponsored by NICA
By EMMA SUTTON
(Emma is a recent college graduate, with a BA in sustainable architecture and experience in small-scale residential design, construction document preparation, and synthesizing interdisciplinary research for practical application.)
I had the opportunity to attend my first West Coast Communities Conference on Saturday, September 15th. I’m grateful that my friend Zhu Zhu was willing to drive us from Seattle all the way to the beautiful venue of the Sahale EcoVillage. Sahale was new to me and one of a handful of co-housing communities I have been to on the West Coast, however, when walking down the path through the woods, the village felt very much like home. At the check-in station, we had the chance to sign up to volunteer for tasks. I stayed at the station to help while Zhu Zhu jumped into the keystone event: Perspectives & Personal Identities. Upon joining as an observer towards the end of the exercise, I encountered a large group of attendees fully engaged in a thought-provoking discussion on social issues. People who were perfect strangers opened up about personal biases, confusion, disappointment, and other heavy topics, thanks to the shared experience of participating in the guided self-reflection.
We were lucky to have a moment in between events to connect with folks who had participated in the exercise with us before it was time to go to the session on Liberated Living: The Economics of Bringing ICs to Market. We heard from a number of informative presenters including Rex Allen, Peggy Foster, Mark Taylor, Jessica Schilke, and the host, Dakotah Apostolou. Each of them shared how they work towards making fiscally successful projects a reality. Their approaches ranged from integrating biological systems, such as gardening, composting, and alternative food sources, to developing prefabricated home units for rapidly-deployable, cost-effective housing. The presenters welcomed questions and shared thoughtful perspectives with references to lessons they learned through their experiences.
We were sent off with a delicious lunch, fabulous company, and rich conversation. Our drive back from Sahale was energized, bolstered by feelings of hope from our interactions throughout the day. It was invigorating to see such a range of people with shared values gather together to negotiate the challenges of creating successful intentional communities. I look forward to attending next year’s conference.