Sarah Ruth van Gelder is the executive editor of YES! a Journal of Positive Futures and a resident of Winslow Cohousing on Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Sunday, 27 Jun 1999

Tonight was a forum in our cohousing group, and it was my turn to facilitate. We are going through a difficult transition, which has created an unusual divide in the community of thirty families. We spent 90 minutes listening to each person describe their feelings, perspectives, hopes, and requests for the rest of the community. We haven’t healed all the hurt feelings yet, but when we share from our hearts, I am always amazed what extraordinary people I have for neighbors. I know that we are not a terribly unusual group of people, but when we share deeply I always learn so much about the subtlety and complexity of each person’s life and relationships and vulnerabilities. Listening to my neighbors helps me to understand that this enormous gift of heart, intelligence, and spirit that we are all born with is everywhere among our population of 6 billion people — and that with that capacity, it is well within our grasp to deal with the quandaries we find ourselves in as we approach the next century. We just need to tap that enormous reservoir of our humanity.

Lisa from Earth Day asked me to write a diary to share with those of you who log on to the Earth Day website. It feels a bit odd to be writing to all of you, since I’m a notoriously bad correspondent and since I don’t know who you are.

My name is Sarah Ruth van Gelder. I am co-founder and editor of YES! a Journal of Positive Futures, published quarterly from Bainbridge Island, Wash. Bainbridge is an island located in the Puget Sound about a half hour by ferry from Seattle. I live about a mile away from the YES! office in the cohousing community I was just talking about, Winslow Cohousing (which by the way has an opening). I am one of the people who helped to form the community some 10 years ago. We live in separate apartments and townhouse-style homes, but there is a large common house where we share five meals a week. Besides the kitchen and dining/living room, the common house also has a recreation room for our two dozen kids, a guest room, laundry facilities, and meeting space. We keep all the cars at the outskirts of the community and since the homes are clustered closely together, we also have space on our five acres for woods, a play field, an organic garden, an orchard, and a wood-working shop and pottery studio.