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News from Prairie Hill

Dear Friends,

Just like the monarch pictured above, we here at Prairie Hill are slowly emerging and testing our wings. Last week marked our first community meal since the "before times." Then, last Friday night, together with other cohousing communities around the country, we celebrated National Cohousing Reopening Day. Our celebration was silly and fun and involved copious amounts of water. (See the incriminating photos below.) It felt incredibly rejuvenating to belly laugh together! We hope you too are enjoying reconnecting with friends and family. We hope to see you soon!

We celebrated National Cohousing Reopening Day with Prairie Hill's First Annual Noodle Olympics! Competition was keen in the Human Foosball event!
In the event pictured above, it was accuracy, not speed, that mattered: fill up your squirt gun and aim it at the bucket your teammate is holding.
Then, teammates switched places and the squirters became the receivers. Eek! No one managed to go home dry!

Join us for Project Green's Open Garden Weekend

Prairie Hill is one of about twenty stops on Project Green's Open Garden Weekend:

  • Saturday, July 10 5:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 11, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Admission is free. No tickets are required. You can pick up a map of all the gardens on the tour at the Ned Ashton House (820 Park Road, Iowa City) during the open house hours.

What you'll find here

At Prairie Hill, you’ll find unique gardens and landscaping that reflect our commitment to choosing earth-friendly and ecological innovations. Flower and vegetable gardens form a patchwork of color surrounding our hillside homes. The garden at our entrance specializes in medicinal herbs. At the top of the hill, there is a large community garden and also the beginnings of our own prairie and orchard.

We strive to follow permaculture principles as we develop this new community. Our bio-retention cell, filled with a variety of blooming plants, keeps water from running off our land into the city sewers, and we are working on a long-term project of getting native turf grass to thrive around all our buildings. Our composting sites are great examples of backyard recycling at work.

In this third year since the first residents moved in, there is still much to do but we are excited and engaged as we work together to make our community beautiful, productive, and an example of sustainable systems and choices. We hope you'll have a chance to stop by.

Upcoming events at Prairie Hill

Information meeting
Wednesday, July 7
6:00-7:30 p.m.

Come learn more about cohousing. Talk to some of the people who live at Prairie Hill. Find out why we like it. To get a link to this event, send a text to Val Bowman at 916-751-9188 or write to us at 

Project Green Open Garden Weekend
Saturday July 10: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, July 11: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Wander select Prairie Hill gardens and check out our bioswale, detention pond, and other features designed to keep stormwater contained on our land.

Lazy Summer Weekend Meet and Greet
Saturday, July 17
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Take a break and cool off by the fan. Tune in to find out what's going on at Prairie Hll on these hot summer days. Some folks are out in the garden, some are visiting nearby parks and lakes, and others are taking advantage of in-person browsing at the downtown library. There's lots to do. Come join us! To get the link, send a text to Val Bowman at 916-751-9188 or write to us at 

We gathered in June for our first community potluck in more than a year. Woo hoo!! It's time!

Coming Together, Once Again

By Daniel O’Rourke

This past month, Prairie Hill residents emerged from the long, strange winter of COVID isolation to come together for dinner in our Common House. We were all maskless with smiling faces and enthused with the excitement of re-engaging in a core experience that is the sine qua non of cohousing—sharing a meal. There were enough “old timers” who remembered the routine for setting up Tasty Tuesday dinners, with a heavily laden and colorful dessert table and a buffet line of unique dining options that reflected the cultural variation and culinary talents of our ever growing community. The most used words I heard to describe the evening was “delicious” and “wonderful.”

The re-meetings were emotional, happy and surprising. Unmasked old faces looked new again. New faces, like Gina and Bill’s, who just arrived from Tucson to join us, brought with them a sense of growth and freshness. They were warmly welcomed with a tinge of elation they had finally made it to Iowa. I noticed that everyone that night seemed as if they had just completed a workshop on “mindfulness” as they slowly and mindfully enjoyed eating and talking together in small clusters of like-minded souls. 

Like the geese who frequently traverse Prairie Hill air space here in the fly-over state of Iowa, the community glided naturally from entrées into desserts, and in doing so, regrouping in new pods of conversation as if by instinct.  And then as dinner came to its natural end, a clean-up crew swooped in to effortlessly clear the tables, fold the table cloths, and return the room back to order—ready to go again next week with a replay of our festive ritual. Free of fear, warmed by friendships, delightful and nourishing on so many levels, the arc of the pandemic seemed to have taken its course and we were finally once again a united community. It was a lovely evening.

We know that nobody can make us think, do, say or feel anything. While others’ words and behaviors influence us, we choose how we respond in every situation. Therefore, we are responsible for those responses. Owning that responsibility empowers us to be our best selves.

Working together to keep the trees happy

June was an unusually dry month. As day after day passed without rain, our Land Circle realized that we needed an organized effort to get the newly planted trees and shrubs some water. We bought a second 35-gallon tank for the four-wheel drive mule so that all the plants could be watered with one trip. Seven people volunteered to drive the mule with full tanks up the hill to the upper level, and five others volunteered to be helpers. There is now a calendar to record the amount of rainfall we receive. When we do not get one inch of rain in a week our volunteers swing into action. A driver and helper are notified, and they pick up a map of the plants that need to be watered. With so many volunteers the work is easily done, and the plants are thriving. 

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Iowa City Cohousing · 140 Prairie Hill Ln · Iowa City, IA 52246-2029 · USA

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