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Happy Holidays, from the Grow Team!

We, the Grow Team would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season! As the days get colder and the holidays are upon us we would like to take a moment to reflect on the past year. In 2012 we opened our first three model homes to the community for tours and are now underway with construction of the next 20 homes and 20 rentals that will make up the first phase of Grow Community.  After the New Year the first residents will be moving in and calling Grow home. The Grow Team has been working behind the scenes on this project for over two years now and it is wonderful to finally see the community begin to come together.

With Grow Community, we presented the concept of One Planet living – a community that allows residents to reduce their ecological footprint while maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyles.  In a year where health, global climate and community wellbeing has risen to the top of our consciousness, we hope that our small project will provide an example of how we can all impact change in our communities.

We know we are incredibly lucky to be living and working on Bainbridge Island.  Our island is just the place where our dream of a healthy, safe, and intergenerational community can become a reality.  As Grow Community takes shape we continually strive to create a place that both fosters community and is also restorative to our earth. We are impassioned every day when we meet community members that share our vision and that are dedicated to improving the world around us.

We are thankful for our family, friends, neighbors, fellow co-workers and the community we live and work in.  We hope that you will continue to contribute and help us to build positive community on Bainbridge Island in whatever way inspires you.

From our family to yours we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

The Grow Team

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our neighbor, the Peacock Family Center has given us permission to repost a Thanksgiving message written by one of their teachers.  Peacock provides family support and services for the greater Bainbridge Community.  When we read this post in their monthly newsletter, we were struck by the wonderful reminder of gratitude.  So often in our busy lives we forget to stop and simply be grateful for the many gifts that we experience every day.  We share this gift with you in hopes that you too will find the time to pause and reflect on friendship, community and the simple things that add joy to your life every day.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Grow Team!

November can be a time for quiet introspection in the form of gratitude and thankfulness, a time to look at what is around us and really appreciate the bountifulness of our lives and those whom we love.  We all impact each other each and every day, and it is a good time of the year to reflect on this, and the gratitude that we have towards what is so fortunate in our lives.

At Peacock, we are always mindful of how we are thankful towards each other. It is a place of giving and nurturing and appreciating each other for this, a love that is ever-present from day to day. We add this piece to the holiday of Thanksgiving, and the result is a celebration of this sense of gratitude, for celebrations are necessary in our lives, marking milestones and happy occasions.  It is good to step back from the stress that can sometimes filter into our lives in order to appreciate life’s simple gifts as we pause for a moment and give thanks to those around us who have shown us love and care.  It is a universal celebration of gratitude.

Yet, one must also be mindful that Thanksgiving, while it is widely celebrated by many in the United States and Canada, including by new immigrants, it is not a holiday that is embraced by all. The story and traditions of Thanksgiving reflect the perspective of the European colonists, not the indigenous people who had already been living on the  continent for many thousands of years. While Thanksgiving honors the struggle of a group who immigrated in search of a better life and religious freedom, it does not recognize what the cost was to the Native Americans they displaced.

So, how do you “celebrate” Thanksgiving in a mindful way, and how do you introduce young children to concepts of Thanksgiving without instilling prejudicial attitudes? I like to look at it as a moment in history when two groups of people who didn’t know each other sat down and shared food they had prepared. In sharing there is a peaceful quality, a way to bridge a gap between people who don’t know each other very well. I like to talk of the Native Americans in a contemporary, non-stereotypical way, and I like to talk of the Pilgrims as newcomers who needed to learn the ways of the people who had lived there for years and years and years, people who knew important things that the Pilgrims needed to learn in order to live here. Young children can relate to the kindness one shares with people they do not know, and how to learn about how to get along in a respectful framework.

So, in 1621, when these so-called pilgrims sat down at the table with the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony, very important things  happened besides just eating. It was the background for cultural exchange, for friendship building that crossed over differences, a vital concept that we are still working on in our culture to this day.

Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended this feast in 1621 wrote a letter home to a friend describing this first Thanksgiving: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with the help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time..many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.”

Besides venison, what did they eat on that First Thanksgiving? Wild turkeys, Indian corn, goose and duck, eels and shellfish, chestnuts, walnuts, and beechnuts, beans, all kinds of squash and pumpkins, and all kinds of root vegetables. In short, for three days they feasted on food that they had harvested and hunted and carefully prepared, food that would connect two cultures and would create friendships.

 

Heidi Harrison, Program Supervisor. Heidi works in all of the classrooms at the Peacock Family Center, mentoring, assisting and guiding teachers in their work, supporting families, designing curriculum and arranging for field trips and community immersion. With a passion for teaching of the highest quality, a bright laugh and smile and a depth of knowledge of all things developmental, Heidi happily leads our teachers and children on their growth path.

Grow Solar Part 3: Incentives for Solar

Click here for Part 2 of our Grow Solar Series, where we talk about the energy efficiency measures we’ve taken to make solar power feasible in each home. 

When we set out to build Grow Community, we committed to creating a One Planet community that would allow its residents to live a zero carbon lifestyle without spending extra money or compromising the comforts or quality of life that they desired.  We set an immense challenge for our team:  to design and build zero-carbon houses that could sell for less than or equal to market price.  Our incredible team met that challenge and exceeded our expectations, not only designing zero-carbon, solar powered homes that met our price requirements, but creating homes that are incredibly comfortable and pleasant to live in.  The homes are amazing spaces to be in.  Seriously.  If you haven’t been to the models homes for a tour, check it out.  We think you’ll agree.

We have an even bigger challenge now. To encourage each and every resident to join us in meeting the One Planet Zero Carbon goal for the community.  We think we can do this by making the option to add solar panels to each home an easy choice.  With no-money down financing available for the solar package, and a well-established federal and state incentive program that essentially pays for the solar, there really is no reason not to add solar to each house.  It is our hope that over time each and every building within Grow Community can be powered by solar, bringing the community as a whole closer to the goal of zero carbon living by 2020.  We know it can be done.

The idea of tax credits and incentives for the solar package may at first seem complex, but really it is quite simple.  The incentives available for renewable energy can be broken down into 3 major parts:

1. The most notable of these incentives is a 30% tax credit provided by the federal government to anyone installing renewable energy (Solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) at their place of residence.  As an example, say you purchase a $40,000 solar package.  In the first tax cycle after your purchase, you will receive a tax credit (actual cash – not a deduction) of approximately $12,000.

Here is some additional information from EnergyStar on this tax credit.

2. The second important incentive is provided by Washington State Department of Revenue’s solar power purchase incentive,through Puget Sound Energy (the energy provider on Bainbridge Island). In order to promote both energy efficiency AND Washington manufacturing, solar owners can receive up to $5,000 per year in production incentives until 2020 if they use renewable energy technology manufactured within the state. Grow Community uses solar modules manufactured by Washington-based iTek Energy and solar micro-inverters manufactured by Blue Frog Solar, also a Washington business, in order to maximize this production incentive.

3. Last, but not least, Puget Sound Energy has  a net-metering program where residential homes that use renewable energy can actually provide electricity back to the power grid. Based on typical modeled energy use, by sizing our solar for each home at Grow, and expecting average weather, each resident can end up producing as much as they use.  The result?  Your averaged annual energy bill – Zero.  With potentially rising energy costs over time, the ability to live in a home and not pay for energy has a significant positive impact on annual cost of living – no small consideration.

By working with iTek, Blue Frog, and PSE, to craft a solar package specifically tailored for each house, Grow Community homeowners are able to realize all three incentives: tax credits, power production incentives, and no electric bill each year.   All this results in a payback of 7 to 8 years and a better return on your money than many current investment opportunities.

We think it’s a no-brainer, but we are interested to know what you think.  Does it make sense?  Do you have questions?

Click here for more information on Washington State solar production incentives.

Stay tuned for Grow Solar Part 4: Financing and Paying off Your Solar Panels.

Net-Zero Home Revealed on East Coast

A new Net-Zero residential test facility has been revealed this week by the National Institute of Science and Technology. This is great news for the advancement of sustainable housing in the United States, however they have an interesting take on it: the four bedroom, three bathroom house will be occupied by a “virtual” family.

“Helping scientists test the home’s systems and determine whether it’s truly “net-zero” is a virtual family of four. Energy use by the family will be simulated by computers that turn on and off various household appliances according to daily routines.”

The Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility in Gaithersburg, MD.

The goal of the company is to eventually sell energy back into the grid, offsetting the electricity used by the family and making it a truly net-zero home.

“Building the home is just the first phase of the project. This fall, NIST scientists and engineers will begin a two-year long research project designed to put the net-zero home to the test. Computers will simulate everything from cell phone charging, to vacuum cleaner use, to the amount of water used to cook meals and bathe.”

While similar to the goals of Grow Community, there are several differences between these two projects. Grow Community, based on the ten guiding principles of One Planet Living developed by BioRegional, aims to address entire lifestyle impacts, with the goal of reducing overall ecological footprint. Grow Community is the first of its kind in the United States to start construction on sustainable homes using these One Planet Community development guidelines. From zero carbon homes and transportation strategies, programs that increase local food consumption and procurement policies that support a local green economy, the Grow Community is applying One Planet Living solutions to create a cost-effective, creative, inspirational and replicable community on the leading-edge of sustainable development practices.

Jonathan Davis, Owner of Davis Studio Architecture & Design, and Lead Designer for Grow Community, likes the goals of the NIST test facility, but thinks the plan has its own limitations.

“We’re doing something more real, for a lot cheaper.” says Davis, “They’re saying the house prices are about $600,000 for a house with state-of-the-art technology in it, not including the land. So we’re creating homes that are more affordable, with the same claim to Net-Zero energy usage, and we’re testing it with real people.”

“It’s great that someone wants to study something like that and get some useful information, but essentially we are doing it in the real world. And we’ll know in a year, just like they will, whether or not it will work.”

Growing A Concept

The concept for Grow Community began with a question:  If you could imagine the ideal place to live, what would it be like?  We began to answer this question as we talked with friends and colleagues.  But the idea for Grow really took shape when we reached out to the wider community and challenged people to think about how a neighborhood could be intentionally designed to improve their quality of life.

Over the last two years we have created a vision of a neighborhood where people of all generations and a diversity of economic means can live mindful of their impact on the planet.   An intentional community where environmental, economic and social sustainability are equally valued and where all people can focus on creating abundance, in their relationships to others, to nature and to the community.

This vision is only just the beginning.  We have designed a site plan for the first phase of the community and built three model homes to invite people to learn about the project, about the community concept and the sustainability goals that we have adopted through the One Planet Living program.  These homes are prototypes, representing the various living opportunities that we plan to build throughout the project.  We encourage you to stop by, walk through the community garden, experience the homes and tell us what you think.

Over the last three weeks we have had more than 850 visitors and we have learned an incredible amount of information, about the homes, the community design, the community programs.  We are already incorporating this feedback in to the final house designs and will continue to improve the plans as we learn more from our visitors.

We are now getting ready to launch the next planning phase to create the Community Center and the other spaces that might be associated with it, including non-profit cultural and educational uses, a large open space and community garden.

We have only just begun, and the one thing that we are certain of is that this community will grow and evolve along with the people who contribute to it.   Our vision, our plans, our designs are just the seed.  We are looking forward to seeing what it grows into.  Whether you are a friend, neighbor, visitor or potential resident, we hope you will join us in shaping this community.

 

Now Taking Reservations.

We are now taking reservations on homes in the first 3 phases. We are also taking back-up reservations, and creating a wait-list for rentals and homes in later phases. Regardless of your timeline If you are interested in living at Grow we encourage you to schedule an appointment soon.  Please contact our Sales/Leasing Director, Joie Olsen at 206.452.6755.

Model Home Tour Schedule.

Our Model Homes will be open for tours on the weekends through September from 1-4pm (with extended hours for Labor Day weekend 10am-4pm) and by appointment. Contact us 206.452.6755 to schedule an appointment.

Grow Community Sustainability Tours.

Interested in a sustainability tour? Join us Thursday afternoons at 4pm for a sustainability tour with our Architect, Jonathan Davis (Davis Studio Architecture and Design) or a member of our development team. We can walk you through all of the sustainability features incorporated into the designs of the homes and the community at Grow. Please RSVP here or call 206.452.6755 to schedule this tour.

Share Your Thoughts With Us.

Already toured our Model Homes? Would you like to share your thoughts? We would appreciate your feedback. We have only just begun, with an expectation that this community will grow and evolve along with the people who contribute to it. Our vision, our plans, our designs are not yet complete. Whether you are a friend, neighbor or resident, we hope you will join us in shaping this community. Please share your thoughts, reactions, ideas about the home designs, the community, anything really.

5 Minute Lifestyle; Sustainable Transportation Options For Residents At Grow Community

sustainable transportation at grow community bainbridge[The following is part of our Five Minute Lifestyle series. Living at Grow Community makes getting out your car easy with all of your local amenities and transportation needs met within a quick 5 minute walk or bike ride away. Our Five Minute Lifestyle posts are dedicated to spotlighting nearby local businesses, transportation options for residents, community resources and the spectacular local attractions of Bainbridge Island and our surrounding community.]

Building a healthy community takes more than just building energy efficient homes. Solar panels on your home and energy efficient appliances are a great start, but it’s only the beginning. There’s a much deeper story to be told.  Whole communities are built on the understanding that sustainability is defined not only by physical impacts to our environment, but also by the experience of support, equity and connection for the community’s members.  One Planet communities address all aspects of sustainability, from the ecological to the economic and cultural impacts, with social well being and quality of life as a foundation of the concept.

One of the principles behind Grow Community’s One Planet sustainable development model is reducing carbon from transportation. With this principle in mind, we set out to provide several sustainable transportation options for residents of Grow Community to make it easier to live without a car, or with only one family vehicle. Grow Community is a 5 – 10 minute walk (or leisurely bike ride) from downtown Winslow and the ferry to Seattle and the location of the development was carefully chosen to support a lifestyle that isn’t dependent on a vehicle. All of your in-town amenities and transportation needs are close by, and, if you work in downtown Seattle, commuting is easy from Grow.

[Related: 5 Minute Lifestyle; Five Local Food Havens Minutes From Grow Community]

We know that residents will still need a vehicle on occasion, and there is room for each resident to have their own car. But what if you would prefer not to own a car, or need a second car only once in a while? That is when Grow Community’s car-sharing program for residents comes into play. For a small monthly fee residents can opt-in to our Nissan LEAF car-sharing program and book our electric car for trips around town or into Seattle. The car is charged by it’s own dedicated solar panel array and is a 100% emissions free transportation option for Grow Community residents.  If interest is high, we will add a number of cars to the car share program, making this a choice that residents can depend on.

For the more casual outings, we have community bikes available for our residents. We are providing the bikes as a healthy option to easily get around Bainbridge Island, and we are hoping the bikes will help people explore the community. The bikes, made by Public Bikes, have already been popular with our own project team—a great way to get around town.

By providing a number of different options for Grow residents to choose low-carbon transportation options, we hope to reduce our overall carbon footprint, create healthy options for getting around town, and demonstrate how sustainable transportation choices can be easy on the pocketbook.

Scroll down to check out some pictures of our new Nissan LEAF and community bikes! 

grow community nissan leaf

 In the picture above you can see Grow Community’s new LEAF with it’s EV Station (on the right) and the solar array which is charging the station (the structure just to the left and behind the vehicle). In the background you can see our three solar powered model homes, now open for public tours. From left to right: The Aria, Ocean and Everett[Read more…]

One Planet Principles; Grow Community’s First Community Garden

Local and sustainable food one planet living principle[The following is a guest post by Lauren Haire, Project Manager at Grow Community. Aside from being a wizard with numbers and graduate of local sustainable-design university, BGI, Lauren enjoys working on Grow Community’s community garden space and has been a leader in planning the community features being built at Grow Community. She also shoots a mean game of hoops.]

Urban agriculture.  City farming.  Community gardening.   Whatever you prefer to call it, growing your own food has become increasingly popular.  In the Pacific Northwest, we are fortunate to live in a region where several organizations have paved the way for others to follow.  A great example is AlleyCat Acres in Seattle, who created their first garden on donated land in Beacon Hill.  The effort brought together volunteers to build the garden, and over the last few years they have helped harvest over 1,600 pounds of produce, much of which is donated to local food banks.  AlleyCat now has sites in the Central District and at MLK and Cherry.

Another great organization is The World in a Garden in Vancouver, BC.  This program has built partnerships with schools, restaurants and Farmer’s Markets to create an educational program that attempts to cross cultural barriers with food.  The garden has successfully built sustainable revenue streams through workshops, garden tours, sales of produce and garden products (honey, plants, etc).

At Grow Community, we have a vision of creating our own sustainable agriculture program right in the center of Bainbridge Island.   We have designed multiple community garden spaces that will allow residents to grow their own food, grow food for others, build connections with their neighbors and be part of the Grow Community Garden Program. [Read more…]