An intrigued throng of 80 community members were drawn to a unique new housing development’s breaking ground ceremony, Monday Aug. 19.
Neighbours, 30 investors dubbed “Ravens,” and even a contingent from Denmark attended.
Ravens Crossing is a group of investor-owners building a complex of Danish-style “Hygge housing” units, where residents have private apartments but share public spaces and amenities, to foster a sense of community. The Scandanavian experience suggests being part of a close community makes people happier and more secure, and now Sidney is to have its very own Hygge housing.
One of the group’s co-founders, Barbara Whittington, led proceedings Monday and helped create a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The Splinters provided tunes and prominent community figures gave speeches. Pauquachin elder Curtis Henry had everyone smiling with his fun speech and he also blessed the site, before sprinkling sacred water on the attendees.
An imported improv. duo, Traven and Braven, entertained with a history of the cohousing group, and Margaret Critchlow, the project’s principal consultant from Harbourside Cohousing, painted a broader picture of the movement, worldwide.
Local dignitaries were seen in the audience, including Sidney mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith. MLA Adam Olsen talked about the group’s totem, the raven, and explained what it meant and how it might guide them to create the community they seek. In keeping with their respect for Indigenous culture, Ravens Crossing provided four shovels to be used to break ground, representing the four points of a traditional medicine wheel. Fittingly, ravens squawked overhead.
For Whittington, cohousing actively builds community adding to the social fabric of Sidney and the surrounding areas. But it is practical too, and she says it appeals to the environmentally conscious.
“It just saves so many resources,” says Whittington. “Just for my own interest I asked the Ravens we have right now, which is 25 households, how many wheelbarrows we all have. Well among 25 households, we’ve got 30 wheelbarrows. That’s ridiculous. That’s kind of a metaphor for what we’re hoping to do.”
At one point on the project, only Whittington and her friend Tracy Mills were members, and although its been a lot of hard work, they are proud of their and their fellow Ravens’ efforts.
“It’s not a dream, we’re not just saying ‘Oh I wish the world were different,’ we’re saying let’s make it different,” says Whittington.
Units are still available for purchase. Ravens Crossing hosts an information evening at McTavish Academy of Art on Aug. 24 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. They also offer virtual information sessions online. For this or more information on the apartments visit ravenscrossingcohousing.ca.