I’m in the process of moving to the left coast from New York, and just wrapping up a whirlwind week of exploring the San Francisco bay area. Thanks to friends willing to host me and schlep me around the city, I’ve gotten tastes of many of the neighborhoods here…. which was great at first, and then quickly left me feeling overwhelmed by the range of choices. Every place has its pros and cons, and I realized I hadn’t gotten clarity for myself of what I want from the environment I live in so I can thrive.
After sitting in the park and pondering, some basic criteria emerged for me, including:
– access to nature
– friendly, warm-hearted neighbors
In addition, ever since I started tracking ‘superhero schools’ and shared live/work/play spaces, I’ve been captivated by the idea of participating in a living situation that was about co-creation and friendship, learning, and open sourcing innovation. San Francisco has a variety of flavors of these already, from Rainbow Mansion and Tortuga in the South Bay, Embassy Network and Langton Labs in SF, and Sandbox House in Berkeley.
I had a plan to scope out as many of these co-living/co-creation spaces as possible, and get a sense of the different cultures and intentions of each.
I made it as far as Sandbox House, and promptly fell in love. 🙂
I’ve been following one of its founders, Jay Standish, for a few years as he’s been traversing themes like post-scarcity economies, the future of work, and social innovation. He’s woven his passion around these topics into the DNA of the Sandbox House, whose model blends the pursuit of personal mastery with community support, a culture connected by a shareable economy, and an intent to create impact at the civic scale.
The energy was immediately resonant.
The tour started outside, where a beautiful garden is growing with veggies, herbs and flowers.
Inside, a kanban board on the wall of the dining room gives everyone a clear view of the personal goals and intentions of the members of the house, chores to be completed, projects to be pushed forward, and where energy is needed to get things unstuck. It’s a neat adaptation of agile/lean methodologies, tailored to individual/community growth and household management.
The co-living project is itself still in an early stage, the members having just moved in in July, and amenities are still in various stages of completion. When I arrived, a new oven was being installed in the kitchen, and off the back office a doggie door was being installed for the house chihuahua, Buddha.
The plan for the evening was a group dinner and social gathering, and everyone was pitching in to get things going. I walked to Whole Foods with Jay’s mom (also in town visiting) and picked up some cheese and wine, housemates buzzed in the kitchen preparing a big pot of soup and veggie dishes, and guests streamed in bringing desserts and things to share.
The crowd included several people active in the cohousing / coliving / intentional community spaces, as well as those working on alternative currencies and economic platforms. I got a chance to chat with a bunch of interesting people – Joe Edelman of Couchsurfing, currently working to put together his own coliving/community hub in Oakland; Christopher Allen, a technologist and prof at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, who showed us his new iPad app for exploring the Group Works card deck; and Raines Cohen, a prominent figure in the SF cohousing community, to name a few.
While I’ve loved the past week in San Francisco, and enjoyed attending a few events in the tech scene, my experience at Sandbox was truly memorable. Warm-hearted friendly and passionate people who’ve made a commitment to experimenting with a more collaborative way of life and work.
I was so impressed, in fact, that when they told me a room in the house was becoming available, I snapped it up. 🙂
As of October, I will be a California resident! Wahoo!
The next adventure is to figure out how to get my most essential and precious items across the country from New York, and begin the next chapter of life from the East Bay!
I’m super excited to finally transition to the west coast, and to be able to immerse myself in a burgeoning creative community.
Thank you to Kirstin Ohm, Andrea Kuszewski, and Iveta Brigis & John Smart for hosting me, and to all the other friends and supporters who are making this huge change go as smoothly as possible. 🙂
more to come . . .
for more on the Sandbox House, see Mira Luna’s writeup in Shareable magazine: