Remember when you were a little kid and your parents woke you up to say you were going on a road trip today so get up and get dressed? My heart would fill with excitement and glee wondering where we were going this time. We packed sandwiches, chips and stuff to drink we were off. The great part was there was always so much to talk about on the long rides we took.
I boarded a plane in Minneapolis headed to New Hampshire — a place I had no idea about. Met Liz Wood in Chicago where we were off to the final landing spot in New Hampshire. I left the Minnesota cold to arrive to a cold New Hampshire so it felt like I never left, which was good.
Our ride was a van driven by Paul Bradley who made a 12-hour ride seem like 6 if you know what I mean but it still felt safe (LOL). With Liz, Mike Bullard, Paul and myself, we were off to breakfast at a wonderful throwback style café that had good food, good coffee and then on the road.
First stop Wayside Village in Shirley, Mass. What a great place. It felt warm and welcoming even though it was cold outside. Much to my surprise I would get to see some CLI Alumni from the past years. Wow, so great to get some real big hugs, lots of smiles, lots of laughs, a great welcome breakfast and best of all great stories about their Cooperative.
The history about their place and town were amazing. Everyone was so wonderful and I for one enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Thank you so much to everyone at Wayside Village, I would love to come see you again when it is warm out. It is always so hard to say goodbye to all of you.
Next location: Woodbury Co-op in Portsmouth, N.H., to surprise a wonderful little group of residents who had just closed their deal the very same week. I was like wow, look at those guys barbequing and drinking some beers even though it is cold out. Much to my surprise we were going to their barbeque but skipping the beer hee-hee-hee. I was in instant love with the residents and their friends. They had so much food and sweets to share. The hot dog I had was great as it always tastes better when someone else cooks. They were so excited about becoming a community and saying how no one was going to make them move now. I remember that feeling but this group felt it even more. They were so, so thankful and it showed. We got to spend only a tiny bit of time with them but to me it was enough time to touch my heart forever. I so hope to be able to hear more about them as they make way for a new adventure of change and newness. Keep us posted and share pictures, too.
We now added Mary O’Hara to our road trip group and grabbed some lunch.
We loaded up the van and now we had to make up time but I knew Paul could so do that. Hee-Hee!!! We were off to Freeport, Maine. Oh by the way I managed to stay awake the whole ride as riding in the car now puts me to sleep in an instant.
Our host for this event were Dale and Directors of Wardtown, guests from other Maine co-ops, RONA (Resident Owned Neighborhood Association of Maine) members, David Nadeau and CDI Staff and more. It was great to hear about RONA, their start and what they are doing. Also to hear from residents and board members. I got to share some ideas about different events they could have and ask them to do a National Night Out in August. So yes that was a challenge!!! It was also great to see more CLI Alumni from the past and tell others to be sure to sign up to try to go this year. Everyone had so much information to share I loved it. It was so windy that day the lights even went out. Just an extra added fun.
It was fun to take pictures at all the places we went and ask others to add their voices as voice overs for the Cooperative video Mike Bullard was doing. Be sure to check it out on www.myROCUSA.org.
Now it was time to start heading back, have some dinner and get some much-needed rest as we still had one more big Cooperative to see, a huge meeting, did I mention food, food and more food. A real cool thing that was added was food at some of our stops and board meeting were provided by a food cooperative. That was a great idea and all the food was wonderful.
Next morning we were up early and off to see Kim Capen at Medvil Cooperative. What a grand place that is. I would so live there if I could. A 55-plus community, beautiful and filled with so much to see. A community center that was like a home I would love to live in.
People were coming from all over. I had no idea what we were in for and what a huge surprise. Poor Kim was sick the whole time we were on our tour so he was not able to ride with us or attend the meetings. I thank you Kim, Barbara and your wonderful Board of Directors for being such great, kind, funny and so much more host.
We got to hear from a panel of folks about many different things. We gathered together at different tables to do a group exercise which I love to do. We had a great finger food style breakfast thanks to Medvil volunteers and lunch. I only wish we would have had more time to take a tour of the whole community.
Please share any pictures you may have gotten of this wonderful visit.
Last but not least, the Big Board Meeting. It was great and filled with so much information. I loved being able to meet everyone who plays a huge part in helping us to be who we are today. I had no idea there were that many people who make things happen at ROC USA but I so do now. Dinner was once again from a Cooperative and was great.
The one thing that stuck out the very most about all the Cooperatives we visited and all the Board Members that spoke was the fact that I did not hear negative things as much one could have imagined.
I know that every community has its troubles be it with the park or the people but I saw and heard so many good things about where they live. Also how they got to where they are today. I am honored to have met each and every one of you on our visit. I thank you all for being great host and opening your space to all of us. The baked goods and hot coffee were always a great help on our travels. The big hugs and big smiles filled my heart. For those of you who traveled from afar to come be a part of this fun tour I thank you for doing that with all of my heart.
So now that it was time to go home I have only one wish and that is: Keep telling your stories filled with happy times of becoming a community, a family, a bunch of great friends. Don’t ever let negative things stop you all from being a great community as there is no time for negativity. Maybe just a little bit but turn that around. Spread your community outward into your towns and share what you are doing right. Make great change whenever you get a chance. Most of all be thankful for what we now have, A Better Together life as a Resident Owned Community.
Thank you to everyone at ROC USA for the best life ever.
My story to you from me