Irresistible Community Builders Presents: The Lisi Bansen Co-op Home for Interdependent Living at Culver Way Ecovillage!

By Tom & Carol Braford

Sometimes “independent living” is not all it’s cracked up to be. The emphasis is often on physical design and technology. That’s a starting point, but the idea that any of us can live independently indefinitely is a flawed one. All of us come into the world dependent on the care and nurturing of others and, while none of us wants to be a burden, we all need help from others at some point. For example, I am dependent on spellcheckers, voice recognition and my wife Carol’s editing to write this article.

Lisi Bansen was stubbornly independent and self reliant almost to a fault, but she was also willing to accept and grant assistance. When she came to meetings at Culver Way Ecovillage, she would park her wheelchair at the side door, climb the stairs clinging unsteadily to the railing and get into a rolling desk chair that someone fetched for her. And she and I were both quite happy when she could do some editing for me.

It was this interdependent aspect of cohousing living that she loved most. She had a dream of owning an accessible live/work space where she could sell coffee and tea by the cup and display arts and crafts created by her alternatively-abled friends. She was a fierce advocate for accessibility and a member of the Disability Project, where she once performed in a ballet in her wheelchair.

After Lisi’s tragic death, I helped Joan Lipkin organize a special memorial service for her Disability Project community. Ever since, I have been haunted by the fact that some of the young people there have been forced to live in nursing homes, and loving couples who so tenderly shared their grief at Lisi’s loss have been involuntarily separated since then because of inadequate housing opportunities.

Lisi’s House will not fully take care of the need but it will be a beginning, a big shared home at the Ecovillage. Alternatively-abled owners will be roommates with student interns. Together they will learn the social technology for co-op living and be responsible for urban farming activities that could include aquaculture, hydroponic gardening and beekeeping.

To learn more about the Ecovillage, please join us on Saturday, August 20th, for our monthly tour and open house at 11:00, followed by a potluck lunch.

Culver Way Ecovillage: Tom & Carol Braford

Green Beings Urban Farm: Michelle Erhard

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