Sunday, February 22, 2009

Co-Housing in Tucson

Driving to Tucson from El Paso showed me an interesting change in landscape. Whereas El Paso's desert is dry with scattered scrubby plants, approaching Tucson I saw sajuaro cacti, tall and noble, often with one or more "arms," which don't start to grow until the plant is at least 50 years old. Other, shorter cacti were visible. On a vist to the wonderful Desert Museum I learned a lot about these and other living things of the desert.

I stayed with former Peace Corps Volunteer (Turkey) Jackie Day in Milagro (Miracle) Co-Housing Community whose unifying principle is "To live lightly on the land." Interesting place: about 28 residences, some of them duplex, occupied by young families with small children up to retired folks. Each house has a solar unit on the roof that provides heat for the water supply, and large tanks are at each house to catch rainwater off the roof. Their grey water is piped underground to a "wetland" where a certain kind of reed has been planted to clean the water. The black water from toilets eventually goes there too, after settling. All this is piped back to water the plants in the community, most of which are local and therefore don't require much water. But they do have some citrus and fig and some other fruit trees, I think.

One would expect to see a community garden there, but as with almost any community with voluntary membership, there are a few who don't want to go along with the majority, and there is no garden, though some individuals do grow vegetables on their own property.

I attended a vegetarian dinner at the home of another resident and talked to about ten women about West Africa, showing my artifacts. Ten-year-old resident Emily modeled carrying a baby on her back.

At a thrift shop in Florida where I had hoped to buy a baby doll for such demonstrations I learned that baby dolls can't be sold unless they are tested for lead in the paint. So my "baby" is a teddy bear.

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