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About

Our House

Our home is a century-old duplex in the “Craftsman” style. When we moved in we knocked out the dividing wall to create one big house–almost 4000 sq. ft of living space on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot. In addition to nine bedrooms, there are two kitchens, two living rooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and a sunny shared office space. We even have two basements and two garages. In our common spaces we keep musical instruments, games and videos, and meet there with friends and groups. While the house was in decent condition when we moved in, we engage in many maintenance and improvement projects, from setting up clothes lines and cleaning storage areas to installing art on walls, windows, and cabinet doors.

We are blessed with great soil and excellent drainage in the front yard, where we maintain an evolving and expanding vegetable, herb and flower garden. Our lot also has several fruit trees, including fig, pear, apple and cherry. We even grow our hops. All these offer us generous harvests in the summer and fall. A small community of chickens cooped in the back yard eat some of our kitchen scraps and give us great eggs and entertainment in exchange. Earthy bugs process the rest of our food scraps in two big back yard compost bins.

 

Location

We are located near the Willamette River in the historic Fairmount Neighborhood, close to the University of Oregon campus and Hendricks Park, which features a rhododendron garden and acres of hilly forest pathways.

Eugene is a wonderful town for progressive-minded folks. At 156,000 people, it’s large enough to offer a wealth of alternative cultural, political and social events, and small enough that you can get to most places by bicycle within 20 minutes. In addition to the U of O with 25,000 students, Lane Community College, which enrolls over 36,000 students, is just a few miles away.

 

The nitty-gritty: Money, food, & chores

In fall 2003 we successfully purchased our house from the previous owner (one of our departing co-op members). The house title is now held by the Walnut Street Cooperative corporation. As a co-op we were unable to obtain bank financing, so we started a revolving loan fund, where about 20 friends and supporters lent us the money to buy the property. Private lenders allow us to keep Walnut Street Co-op alive as long-term affordable housing option in Eugene, as well as a focal point of community activism and support.

Each member pays monthly fees that go toward loan repayment, taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, and other costs. We are self-governing and self-managing, handling all aspects of the house and community.

We eat together five nights a week. Our shared dinners are vegetarian and nearly all the food we buy is organic and local. Everyone chips in monthly to the food budget, and every year we join one or two Community Supported Agriculture farms in season. Each person cooks once a week, most in pairs. We also have a separate kitchen for personal items and meat.

Chores are split up among everyone.

Walnut St. house back door.

Group Process

Good communication is important to us. As mentioned above, we are committed to addressing conflicts directly when needed and sometimes help by providing mediation or empathy for each other. We also trust that each person is holding a piece of the truth, and we’re committed to deep listening with each other even during hard conversations.

We currently have weekly house meetings to deal with both day-to-day business and larger household issues. Regular attendance is expected, and everyone takes turns planning agendas and facilitating. Household decisions are made by consensus, meaning all present must agree before action is taken. More than a method or a set of skills, consensus relies on the faith that we can find solutions which will meet everyone’s needs. Our unique approach to consensus is somewhat informal, and we sometimes think of it as “co-sensing” our way through our life together.

 

Who are Walnut housemates?

The population of Walnut Street Co-op has continually evolved over the years, with an average of 2-3 new people each year. We’ve had many students, including graduate students in Planning, Architecture, Law, and Linguistics. We’ve had activists in forest defense, community resilience, homelessness, social justice, climate change, and the Occupy movement. We’ve had professionals in massage, organic standards, facilitation, programming, teaching, music, art, accounting, city government, nonprofit management, writing, indexing, construction and more. We’ve even been housemates with a comedian and a juggler. We’ve had tall and small, gay, bi, and trans housemates, couples, families, and lots of pets.

Housemates with websites include Tom Atlee, who’s been with the co-op for 13 years. He’s a writer and social philosopher focused on ways society can make wiser decisions and runs the non-profit Co-Intelligence Institute (CII).

Andrew Heben is a planner and advocate of tent villages and runs the Village Collaborative. He has been an instrumental part of Opportunity Village here in Eugene and just published his first book, Tent City Urbanism.

We are part of the wider intentional communities movement. As such, we are members of the Fellowship for Intentional Community.

Some former housemates

  • John Abbe shares Nonviolent Communication, does software design on Wagn and is on the board of CII – all as part of his interest in a broad culture shift.
  • Tree Bressen offers facilitation and workshops in consensus and other group process skills, and lives less than a mile away. She led a team (including Tom Atlee and John Abbe) that created the GroupWorks pattern language card deck.
  • Elliot Shuford works for Healthy Democracy Oregon, where he has helped start a citizen initiative review process for the state of Oregon.
  • David Franklin is a skilled classical guitarist, as well as a life coach and consultant.
  • Grá Linnaea is a writer, teacher, and graphic designer. He initially designed and set up this website.

Walnutters

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2012 8:03 AM

    I just came across your blog. My family and some very close friends have a vision of a community. We have just found (not looking it just showed up) a perfect piece of property with 3 dwellings and all the things we need … are are trying to see about financing. Your blog is inspiring!

  2. Penny Tyrrell permalink
    February 23, 2013 2:14 PM

    Dear Walnut St. Co-op,
    I am writing to you from the OG Corner Market, at 295 River Rd. and I wanted to let you and your friends know that we have some AWESOME deals on local organic carrots right now- perfect for a shared household! If anyone likes to juice, or just eats crisp, sweet delicious carrots, come visit us, or check out our facebook page at “OG corner market…we also have an abundance of other local organic produce, mostly from Sweetleaf farm and we love to do bulk deals…we would also be happy to do wholesale and deliveries for a $50 minimum purchase…Cheers!
    OG Corner Market

  3. Doug Graves-Chaffin permalink
    December 17, 2013 5:31 PM

    Hi I’m Doug. do you have any room for me? I would like to talk to you about your co-op. feel free to write me and maybe we can talk on the phone about your home in more detail.

    • January 8, 2014 12:24 PM

      Hi, Doug.

      I’ll send you an email about it. As of now we do have an upcoming vacancy for approximately nine months. If you’re interested, we’ll need to interview you and have you over for dinner (assuming you’re in town. Otherwise, we can arrange a Skype session or something).

      –Zoe

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