The Canopy gets a mention in Boston Magazine's March 2016 issue as a creative solution to Boston's rising housing costs! We did the photo shoot at Seedpod (BCC's existing house in Dorchester), and it was a lot of fun.
We've been honored to work with some very talented artists to produce a fundraising video over the last several months! They put in a lot of amazing work illustrating the video, recording the vocal track, filming innumerable takes, and then editing it all together in the end. It will be featured in a Canopy Indiegogo fundraising campaign that we're launching on September 1. Watch this space and like our Facebook page to stay informed.
We are very excited to announce that we’ve decided to partner with Boston Community Cooperatives! BCC is a nonprofit umbrella organization that furthers the coop movement by creating shared infrastructure among several coop houses under joint ownership. By becoming a BCC house, The Canopy will operate under BCC’s existing nonprofit incorporation and will share governance and operations with other BCC houses.
Inspired by similar organizations across North America, BCC was founded in 2001 in order to allow the Boston group-equity cooperative housing sector to serve more people by forming multiple coop houses under one umbrella organization. This streamlines cooperative overhead. By sharing governance, legal fees, administrative functions such as bookkeeping, and other operational systems, coops can realize efficiencies and free up more time to pursue their missions. This model has proven very successful in several places, such as Madison, WI, where Madison Community Cooperatives manages a network of 11 houses with over 200 residents.
BCC currently owns one house — Seedpod, a 12-bedroom house located near Fields Corner in Boston. The Canopy will be the second BCC house, in a location yet to be determined. (We are interested in finding a property within the Boston metro area, accessible by T or major bus route – basically, if you draw a circle from Medford to Watertown to Dorchester, we would want to be within that circle.)
The Canopy and BCC are both committed to expanding access to coop housing to populations outside of the typical twenty-something demographic that typically benefits. We’ve already had extensive talks with BCC about the nature of our collaboration, including a kickoff at the BCC annual meeting this past weekend when Canopy members officially joined the BCC Board of Directors. We are looking forward to continuing to work with this forward-thinking and creative group!
It's an exciting time at the Canopy, as we're working to begin fundraising for our first house. We've been planning our first fundraiser, and also churning out ideas for a video explaining what we're all about and how people can help us. We're planning to use the video in our online fundraising campaign. If you'd like to be a part of that, let us know!
I'm really stoked about the practical side of the vision we've laid out for this project. As a single parent, day-to-day urban living is a challenge. Rent and childcare are my two biggest expenses, and I'm looking forward to a time when my home will be more affordable and my community will be available to help me when needed. I love that my son will have many adults who love him and want to help him grow into the best version of himself, and that he'll have Canopy-siblings to play and learn alongside. It's so exciting to be a part of creating this unusual family.
Most of all, I'm thrilled at the notion that we'll be able to expand this vision to include many others who are tired of the stresses of urban living, but can't see themselves in the suburbs or a rural setting. I like to think big---can you imagine thirty or forty committed adults raising ten or fifteen kids in a network of affordable homes? We could have a significant impact on our local neighborhood. We'd be a powerful force for good. And I can't wait to be a part of that.
Amanda recently published an article about the Canopy in the Beacon Hill Friends House (BHFH) newsletter! It appears in its entirety after the jump.
I don’t intend to live in the Canopy when we buy a house. I may live there someday, but that’s not the reason I am working on this project. I’m deeply invested in this project and want it to succeed because of what it represents.
I think co-op living will be a big part of our society's future. For one, it reflects a rich history of living in community that was only altered in the very recent past with the concept of nuclear families living in single family homes. My grandparents and great-grandparents (and probably yours) grew up with their extended families or lived in tight-knit communities. Back then, it was largely out of necessity — suburban single-family homes were a luxury of the rich. After World War II, the boom in population and prosperity led to the development of many of the towns and cities that people live in today. The nuclear family (two parents and their kids) was the standard unit that housing was based around.
But the post-war planners didn't appreciate that trading community for space and amenities also led to isolation and didn't improve quality of life, especially given the expense of buying and maintaining a single-family residence. They also didn't understand that real human families are diverse, or that today, a two-parent household is no more common than a single-parent household, or a household with more than two adults, for that matter. The tremendous interest that we've gotten when we talk about the Canopy says to me that lots of people (at least in forward-thinking Boston) want an alternative to the suburban single-family model. And today the infrastructure of most modern cities (transportation, telecommunications, food/water/sanitation) means that the quality of life of community living is far superior to our great-grandparents’.
Boston has several co-op houses, but not many that are focused on raising children in a community environment. I want the Canopy to be a model for this ideal — the first of several co-ops that build on what we are developing here. Starting a co-op is hard; keeping one going is even harder, and I want to help show that it can be tremendously successful so that others can follow the same path. So even if I don’t ever live at the Canopy, I think that someday I will live in one of many co-ops just like it.
My friends and family joke that they aren't surprised by anything I do anymore. After college I left New Jersey for Boston and a few years after that I applied to graduate school in France. When graduate school didn’t work out, I decided to pursue project management, which fortunately turned out to be a good path for me. So that’s my day job, and more and more of my evenings are occupied with the process of starting a progressive, family-friendly co-op in which I will help my fellow co-op members raise their kids and, should I choose to have them, they’ll help me raise mine.
The question I get most often from people is, “why do you want to pursue raising a family in a co-op? Why not hold out to meet your life partner, and buy a house, and do it that way?” It’s a fair question. I don’t have one clear answer, but here are some of the reasons I have for why I am doing this co-op thing:
As of February 5, The Canopy is registered with the state of Massachusetts as a nonprofit. We are so excited to be moving forward.
Next, we'll begin fundraising. Look out for our first announcement soon!
Is this thing on?
Here's hoping this is the start to something wonderful. We have a long way to go, and it's full of F-words: fundraising, financing, finding a property, figuring out meal schedules and chore schedules. I can't wait to see what comes next.