Meet the Commoners
Forty years ago Kristen and Ross moved here after meeting in college in California and started the Abominable Snowmansion Skiers Hostel. Besides running the Snowmansion, Kristen earned a living as an elementary school teacher, a ski valley hotel worker, and a retail shop owner. Much of her passion has gone into volunteering--mostly in our public schools. She has been a Girl Scout leader and camp director, developed a solar education curriculum, started the gifted program, and supported music, performing arts, and environmental education. Play times are spent camping, practicing yoga, traveling, and cross-country skiing. Why Valverde Commons? She loves Taos and our mountains and the friendly, open, diverse town. After decades living in their rural owner-built home (they even made the adobes), she enjoys living IN town and IN community.
Ross comes to Valverde Commons after living the last 35+ years in an owner-built, solar adobe house, on six acres north of Taos. Ross and Kristen are now enjoying their newly completed zero energy home. He will miss his small kingdom but likes living among good neighbors. He finds it a pleasure to walk to town after years of facing an hour long round trip drive. Ross is retired after a varied work life--school teaching, construction, creator of a ski hostel, work in the hospitality industry, surveying, and GIS mapping. He is a contented husband and father. His interests include volunteering for environmental causes, Buddhist meditation, and many outdoor pursuits. He is happiest hiking deep in the mountains, sleeping under the stars.
Bob is an interesting combination of science and musical performance. He loves all kinds of music (he started the Taos Community Chorus) from opera to boogie woogie. When he is not working as the owner of Phoenix Mechanical, the premier plumbing and heating company in Taos, he is tutoring math, hiking, gardening and enjoying fellowship and family. He is at the heart of Valverde Commons as one of the developers who is giving his all for this project.
Isabella might be recognized as the woman with birds flocking around my head. She loves all animals. She is a budding artist (Capricorns are notorious late bloomers). She is strong and fit and eager to garden, do yoga, cook, go birding and frolic in general with her neighbors and friends.
Carolyn came from the Bronx, NY to Taos, NM with a stop in aquamarine Miami Beach. How’s that for a shift in consciousness? As a little girl she loved to go to the bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains. Valverde Commons is her grown up bungalow colony. She is a single painter, glass artist, illustrator, author and mile-a-day swimmer. Anyone want to teach a Bronx girl to garden?
Joe is a retired clinical psychologist, married, father of two daughters with three grandchildren. His hobbies are probably reading and yakking with friends. He and his wife have travelled and camped the west for years, returning to the southwest more than any other place. They've visited Taos for over twenty-five years. Housesitting for friends in Taos gave them the chance to see that Taos could also feel like home. No doubt, meeting the other Valverde Commoners, with their sincere vision statement for a neighborhood, contributed greatly. After meeting the other commoners, he was just grateful they found this place.
Ann was a toddler in Illinois, grew up in Colorado and Utah but has lived in California since the late 50s. Traveling the West with its people, history and beauty has been central to her life. Taos has drawn her since first seeing it in 1985. She and Joe have returned to this area repeatedly. Ann loves plants and to be outside. She walks, reads, quilts, and camps using a slide-in popup camper (now in our middle 70s). Leaving country property, with lots of space and horses, for town living, I find it is nice not to work so hard and be in walking distance of everything. Valverde Commoins drew me for the wonderful people here, the sense of community and neighborliness it embodies, and the gorgeous setting. I like living here!
Ganesh is only one of the adorable dogs that will live with us at Valverde Commons. He is known for stealing freshly baked pies.
Loveable friend of Joe and Ann called, aptly, "Keeper."
This is Izzy, aka Isadora. With one blue eye and one green, she's a quirky girl like her friend Carolyn.
Barbara is a professional artist- painter and printer- who moved to Taos in 1973 and hopes she never has to leave. Her husband, Stephen, has gotten her and their now grown sons to go on many whacky adventures including living on a sailboat in the Bahamas, skiing to huts in the mountains and going to the Galapagos. She also enjoys yoga, tai chi, hiking, meditation, music and reading. She and Stephen are two of the developers of Valverde Commons and now reside and work in their beautiful Leed Platinum home there.
Stephen is a recovering attorney who has lived in Taos since the mid 70’s. He is the instigator of the whacky adventures Barbara mentioned. Devoted to his community, he co-founded Habitat for Humanity here and has served on many boards for the environment, children and the arts. He enjoys nature, gardening, mentoring, meditation, hiking, backpacking, sailing and skiing. Acting as developers, he and Bob are the main reason we have Valverde Commons
Madeleine is an avid sportswoman. In fact, she was a hurdler at the World Games in Budapest, 1949. She loves being outdoors, hiking and discovering beautiful landscapes. Originally she came from France on a scholarship and met her husband here in the U.S.A.; they had four children. She taught French for thirty years and has been a writer for the last 20 years. She wrote "Partita", a psychological mystery, to discover the causes of her husband's mysterious death amd it has been well received. Ever vivacious, among her many accomplishments, she is an excellent cook.
Hank—Hank built lumpy, organic furniture in the 60’s with a little company called Home Hewn. Chairs and tables had walking legs and a sense of movement. When it came time to design his first house, the building took on some of that same animation. By the 1980’s he got an MFA at the University of Colorado and began painting more seriously and making artists books. In the last twenty years Hank seems to have settled on painting and sculpture between scuptural house building projects. The house that he and Gaia now live in is a curvaceous, energy efficient collection of ideas from their many earlier homes. It’s called crab nebula.
I'm a retired psychologist and teacher - worked at the University of Colorado, Boulder for many years. I've also been a peace and social justice activist most of those years, and had the good fortune to teach young people who were preparing themselves to become effective social change workers. I'm very interested in community building, community health and dialogue facilitation. Here in Taos I have become involved in some community organizing efforts. I have also been exploring poetry writing - Taos has an active and talented writing community. I have a regular (body-centered) Buddhist meditation practice. I'm working on growing lots of food here at Valverde, and hope others will want to do a greenhouse and maybe chickens someday.
Jim considers himself a "jack of all trades" and master of some. He learned cabinetry from his father, sewing in middle school, electronics at age 12, acetylene and arc welding while building the hot rod in high school, and glass blowing as an undergrad. He studied chemistry, forestry and economics, but never worked in these fields. He rode his motorcycle 17,000 miles through central Africa and built 25 pipe organs before settling on software design as a renumerative occupation. Jim has long had a strong affinity for community, having explored Twin Oaks and co-housing communities in Oregon, Puget Sound, and Belfast, Maine, as well as several religious communities. He also informally studied residential architecture in Germany, Nigeria, New England and Nicaragua.
Chris is a fourth-generation (on both sides) Southern California native who has spent the last 40 years in beachy San Diego. Over 30 of those years were spent as a technical writer in the high-tech arena, with a little project management and programming thrown in for good measure. (She is not sure how she went from an art major to tech writing, but she is a go-with-the-flow kind of person, and never looked back.) It seems de rigeur for technical writers to write a novel, and so Chris has been working on hers for about 10 years now. She dreams of finishing it when she retires.
She also loves making handmade soap, a hobby she started thanks to her fish-belly-white and perennially itchy skin. She has made it into a small business, but is closing it down for retirement, as she has way too many things to do. (She will still make soap for fun, so once she gets to Taos, feel free to request a bar or two; she usually has lots on hand). Chris decided to retire to Taos after a conversation at the coffee machine with a co-worker, a conversation that enlightened her to all things "co-housing" and in particular, Valverde Commons. She was hooked, and has spent the last few years getting ready to move. Her VC house is currently under construction, but retirement is still a year down the road. She plans on moving to Taos in the summer of 2015. Once there she plans to devote her time to her favorite activities...sewing, knitting, painting, drawing, reading, writing, and making soap.
Kristina Wilson, our only true elder (according to her) is a tapestry weaver and a long time Taos resident. She moved to Valverde Commons because of the incredible view of our mountains across open farmlands. She has created a sort of "secret garden oasis" on her lot and loves the high water table that supports her many trees.
Emelie and Glenn Emelie and Glenn moved to Northern New Mexico 9 years ago. For 30+ years before that they both taught at a liberal arts college in California. Emelie is a socio-cultural anthropologist (gender, environmental anthropology, Turkey) who grew up on a farm in far northern Minnesota. Glenn taught religious studies (Hindu traditions, Islam, Buddhism) and came of age in central Pennsylvania. They have three cats, three grandkids, and three offspring. They look forward to introducing chickens to Valverde Commons. They both have been involved in various volunteer activities since retiring in 2005.
Kate Crawford, corn-fed and Illinois-bred, still became a wanderer. She wandered from her first college, DePauw University in Indiana to Leeds in England, to BU in Boston where she got one degree, and then BC where she got another. She wandered from her first job as a tenant organizer in Boston and then Kingston, Jamaica, to a national rural housing organizer in Washington, D.C. and then to organizing the National Low Income Housing Coalition and lobbying for low-income housing. After organizing against the Reagan budget that wiped out low-income housing and winning some of it back, she wandered off to Virginia to build a house on the Shenandoah River. Sheetrock, she discovered, was not her calling. So, for a change, she bought and ran a New England Country Inn and Restaurant that almost killed her, and then moved to northern California and eventually fell into writing, her current passion.
In between times, Kate wandered the world, lots of it. Gardened--more in her mind than on the ground-- and over all feels the first 2/3 of her life--she expects to live to 99-- was quite satisfactory. Her house in Valverde Commons, all 730 feet of it, is almost done and she anticipates it will make a very good base from which to continue her wanderings-- right up until she wanders her last.
LeAnn and Kim are the proud owners of Lot 22. While still pursuing careers in Dallas, they check the Taos webcam daily, avidly study sustainable building practices, and dream about the day when they'll move to Taos instead of just visiting.
LeAnn works at Dallas non-profit Big Thought where she enjoys the challenges of putting imagination in everyday learning and partnering with other community organizations to create learning opportunities outside of school. Previously, as Director of Education for the Dallas Symphony, she was credited with updating the orchestra's traditional youth programming while developing successful new initiatives. Early in her career she was bit by the touring bug and as a result has traveled in five continents with orchestras and choirs. A strong supporter of public education, LeAnn actively volunteers in Dallas ISD, where she coordinates community resources for an elementary campus, mentors students at Dallas' celebrated Arts Magnet high school and was a 2014 Leadership ISD Fellow. A non-practicing pianist, she shares her passion for music at pre-concert talks for the Dallas Symphony, and in her spare time gardens, exercises, tries to keep up with her book club and plans the next trip. LeAnn shares an East Dallas cottage with husband and wind band guru Kim Campbell, along with a varying number of cats.
Kim is the Founder and Executive Director of the Dallas Winds, America's preeminent civilian wind band. Born in Houston, he grew up in Amarillo and was a professional college student at North Texas State University. Kim has worn many hats including those of a music instructor, stage manager, bartender, freelance trombonist, machinist (where he helped build the Stealth Bomber...shhh!) and auditorium manager. A career raising circus tents lasted one day. In another life, Mr. Campbell toured with The O'Jays, Johnny Mathis, Barry White, Donna Summer and several other acts that are better left unmentioned. Idle moment find Kim puttering in his garden, walking, bicycling and wondering exactly where he left his keys, spectacles,wallet and so on...He currently answers to six cats--Tootsie, Sugarpuss, Boomerang, Lindbergh and Jetta at home, plus Mr. Widget at the Dallas Wind's world headquarters. Kim shares an abiding love for "all things Taos" with his infinitely better half, arts educator extraordinaire LeAnn Binford.
Andy Greif and Justine Nauman both moved to Maine in the late 1980s--he from New Orleans and she from Bishop, Ca. They met on a job site, where Andy was working as a timber frame carpenter. Justine was winding down her career as a cabinetmaker. In the early years of their marriage, they both made career changes and earned Masters Degrees, Andy in Clinical Psychology and Justine in Social Work. They settled in Kennebunk, ME in a small home with a well-equipped woodworking shop in the basement. Their property abuts a 600 acre nature preserve. They spend a lot of time cleaning up fallen leaves and don't expect to miss living surrounded by trees when they get to Taos.
Fast forward 26 years: Andy is the Executive Director of a youth development program he created after a decade of work as a Clinical Counselor in an alternative high school setting. The Community Bicycle Center in Biddeford ME is celebrating its 10th year this fall. If interested, visit www.communitybike.net. Andy discovered wooden bowl turning on a lathe a few years ago, and is eager to advance his skills.
After retiring from school social work in 2006, Justine trained to be a Hospice Volunteer Visitor, which she did until 2012. Her lifelong passion is making things. She has spun various fibers, taught herself Navaho tapestry weaving, hooked rugs, sewed just about anything, hand-quilted, and made cabinets and furniture after moving to Maine and folding floor screens during her transition to social work. She draws portraits of dogs and people in colored pencil and may explore UNM-Taos art classes.
Andy liked living in New Orleans where he could sit on his porch after work at Shell Oil and visit with neighbors. Justine loves her creative time alone, but needs the balance of easy community. She found VC online when she was house-bound during this past winter in New England. Her daughter Zoe lived in Santa Fe, son Erik in Brooklyn, NY and son Mike in Northeast MD. Justine and Andy hope that Taos will provide incentive for their 4 grandkids to visit with their parents. Andy's family is in Baltimore, where he grew up.
We are open, thoughtful, helpful people and are looking forward to making our way to Taos to be able to be outside year-round, ride our tandem bikes to get groceries, explore near and far, and get to know the exceptionally interesting people who will be our neighbors. Tennis anyone? Definitely ping pong. And Canasta. And...
Oh, and regarding when we might move, we hope to plan on building in spring 2017.