Having been a part of developing this cohousing community, various members share their thinking about creating this special option for seniors in our community.
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Bob and Ghislaine
We met on Kibbutz Bet-Zera (House of Seed) as volunteers in 1977. For Bob, the kibbutz ended up being the last stop on a traveling adventure after graduating from McGill University. Ghislaine was exploring Israel after leaving her hometown of Lyon France. We loved the cooperative aspects of community experienced on the kibbutz and missed the closeness of community life ever since we left. Many years later we began seeking to become members of a cohousing community. We have lived in Norman Oklahoma and Madison Wisconsin where Bob’s offices are located. All our children are fourlegged: currently 3 cats and a horse.
Bob: Growing up near the shore of Lake Michigan an the edge of the prairie, I was fascinated with weather and nature at an early age. This led to a life-long passion with observing and forecasting the weather and a career as a research meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I’ve stayed connected with Canada with frequent visits to Montreal and collaboration on projects with Environment Canada. In recent years, I have been engaged in educational outreach with indigenous youth. I am a student at Iḷisabvik Collage in Utqiabvik (Barrow) Alaska, studying the Iñupiaq language and crafts such as traditional dance & song, and sewing mukluks and dancing gloves. Love outdoor activities. Biking (I’ve never needed a car to commute to work or school), walking, x-c skiing, basketball, sprinting and lots of yoga. Hobbies include DXing and amateur radio. An audio tour about me is available from a podcast from my yoga teacher on Vancouver Island: The First Step: Staying Engaged in Life with Bob Rabin
Listen to Bob's interview:
Ghislaine: My love of horses started in France where I was a training jockey at the race track in Lyon. After moving to Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to train my own horse and ride dressage. I have been with Gabe for many years: he is now 34! While in Madison WI, early 90’s, I was involved with the Tibetan Resettlement Project, and studied the Tibetan language with a teacher of the Dalai Lama at the University of Wisconsin. Inspired by teachers such as Roger Eichens and Thich Nhat Hanh, I have been practicing meditation, and teaching yoga since 1997. I became interested in Nonviolent Communication and had the chance to train with Marshall Rosenberg. I am an urban gleaner enjoying harvests of mulberries, pecans and other fruits, while on my bike commutes in town.
Listen to Ghislaine's interview:
Listen to Melissa's interview:
Although I was born in Fresno, California, I was raised in the high mountains of California where my father worked for a hydroelectric company. It was a wonderful way to grow up surrounded by nature in very small towns where we knew everyone. We snow skied all winter and water skied all summer.
I have three adult children, and four grandchildren. My oldest son Jesse and his wife live in southern California with my 11-year-old granddaughter and one adult grandson who lives in Santa Barbara. My son Jeremy lives on his sailboat in the Bahamas where he runs charter excursions, and my daughter Jennifer and her two sons live in Kona Hawaii. I also have two sisters in Portland, Oregon, and one in Challis, Idaho.
For a time, I had employee family benefits with United Airlines and Royal Caribbean Cruises, so I traveled as extensively as possible with free airfare and really cheap cruises. I love solo travel, and have been incredibly fortunate to visit many places throughout the world.
I first became interested in Cohousing when I took the weeklong Study Group One course in 2014 with Architect Chuck Durrett in Nevada City, California. It was there that I first heard of Oakcreek Community, as Chuck always spoke so positively about this community among the many that he designed.
Throughout the years I visited many Cohousing developments wherever I traveled, but I was still working as a dental hygienist in Hawaii, where I lived on the Big Island for 24 years. I retired in December 2021, and was thrilled to be able to move to Oakcreek Community in January 2022. I like to say I traded good weather for community!
I really enjoy our Common Meals every five nights, and love to participate on cook teams. It's great having so many interesting neighbors as well as the time and close proximity to get together frequently for planned and spontaneous gatherings. I have found Stillwater in general and Oakcreek Community in particular to be a wonderful fit, and look forward to many years ahead in this active and supportive community!
Miriam and Tom
Miriam: Tom and I learned about Oakcreek through our daughter, Magdalena, who lives in Stillwater. And when we found out that we were going to become grandparents, Oakcreek and Stillwater seemed the most wonderful option. We had been planning already to leave our home of 32 years in Tulsa and find something smaller and more accessible for Tom. So we downsized, sold the house and moved to an apartment in Stillwater. After about a year, a unit at Oakcreek became available. We bought it and have been so happy living here.
I was raised in Oklahoma and Texas. My first job after I graduated from college was as a librarian in Florence, South Carolina, where I met Tom. We moved to Austin, TX where Tom attended graduate school and I worked for the University of Texas as a computer programmer. Both our children were born in Austin during the 10 years that we lived there. When Tom graduated, he took a job in Tulsa. My brother and his family and my parents both lived in Tulsa, so we were eager to be nearer family.
I am an avid gardener and am interested in native plants, permaculture, and wildlife habitats. The meadow at Oakcreek is a delight to me, as I watch it change and grow throughout the year. I thought I would be sad to leave my gardens in Tulsa, but the gardening I can do at Oakcreek is just the right amount for me now. And I enjoy working with other Oakcreek members to plan and implement garden projects.
I’ve had multiple careers during my lifetime – librarian, computer programmer, and retail sales. At 50, I went back to school to study culinary arts and worked in food service until my retirement. I had always been interested in fiber arts and set up a small fiber business after retirement. Every year I attend a few craft shows to sell my creations of wearable art and home decor. Weaving and wet felting are my most recent fiber passions. I teach felting classes at Prairie Arts Center in Stillwater and have had some of my felted pieces in exhibitions at Modella Gallery in Stillwater and at Fiberworks (the juried show that Fiber Artists of Oklahoma sponsors every year). I also love to travel. Not surprisingly, my travels have featured cooking classes and fiber arts – weaving in Peru, felting in Hungary, and woven rugs in Morocco.
Tom: Back in 1988 I got a full-time job (with insurance and all that good stuff) in Tulsa. After we moved there, I used to joke about our house, saying that the only way they’d get me to move out would be to carry me out feet-first. We lived there 30 years, but lately I’ve had to modify my sentiments as I came to the realization that negotiating two floors plus a basement was no longer practical for me. Our daughter has been living in Stillwater for several years, and we had already been introduced to the Oakcreek community. The surroundings and the members both seemed to invite us, and when an opening came up we moved in.
Going from 2200 square feet to 700 square feet was downsizing on steroids, but we managed it. It helped that a lot of my books had already moved to our intended summer place in New Hampshire. (Of course we hadn’t planned on not getting there for a year, but that’s the way life is sometimes.) We managed to meet people in spite of the masks and the distance, and started to adjust. After Oakcreek began having common meals again, it really started to feel like home.
One feature of Oakcreek that I didn’t really notice at first was the way the units are grouped into pods. Seeing the same small group of people every day has made it easier for me to get to know them. (There were 23 people in my high school graduating class, if that has anything to do with it.) Taking on common tasks as a group means a lot to me, even though I sometimes feel as though I can’t contribute very much. I personally find it easier to fit in with a group if we are working on something together.
Listen to Tom's interview:
In September of 2018, I made the wonderful discovery of Oakcreek, a co-housing community. Having made the decision to retire from a community college in Miami, OK, after 21 years teaching; the question then became “what’s next?” I loved my friends and many activities in Miami but I wanted to live closer to my daughter and her family plus I wanted to live in Oakcreek. Having moved many times in my life (Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma) I had a built-in way to meet people such as a job. But not this time.
What a breath of fresh air to find Oakcreek, and, more importantly, the great people who live here. They quickly welcomed me to any and all activities. They also treat my grandsons like part of their families. I particularly enjoy the informal times we have to work together on a project or over dinner. I would never have dreamed I would have 31 friends, so many opportunities to learn new things, and feel so at home on these 7+ acres in the heart of Stillwater, OK.
Listen to Sidney's interview:
I lived in New York City all my life. After my husband died, I sold the house and moved to Oakcreek to be near my daughter Melissa. Oakcreek is a great community. The people are gracious, warm and friendly. The McKnight Center is wonderful for music and Prairie Arts Center offers art classes, and both are nearby.
Listen to Tommie's interview:
I grew up in part of a large local family in Stillwater. I have lived here all of my life. Sunday lunches with a grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins are a fond memory. Living at Oakcreek is like having a large family. We meet and eat regularly, keep up with each other’s news. It feels like home - the home I grew up in, the home I created for my family, and the home I want to live in my final years.
Living in cohousing, I have continued to learn, grow, and strengthen skills. I now know the best products with which to clean a glass top range, when to plant potatoes, and how to program watering systems. I like to garden and there are plenty of opportunities on our 7½ acres. I also like to cook, plan menus, and even clean up after with friends. What I have learned about cohousing is that there is a place for everyone. Many skills are needed. Everyone has gifts to share.
I taught middle school speech, drama, and language arts in a rural community for 30 years. I have 2 children, Chad is a nurse in Minnesota, Erin is a middle school teacher in Adliswil, Switzerland. Stillwater was a great place to grow up, raise a family, and cohousing is a great place to grow older with new friends.
Chuck & Ronda
In early 2018 we moved from New Mexico to Oakcreek, having tracked its progress since 2012 when we first visited. We’re finding the community to be extremely helpful and interesting, with members from a variety of backgrounds, who are willing to contribute their knowledge and skills to keep the neighborhood running smoothly.
As the birthdays pass, we’ve admitted that long term we’ll want to live in a ‘village’ where assistance will be close by if needed, and where we can assist others. Cohousing seems to fit the bill, and Oakcreek is near our Tulsa daughter and family.
With kids, grandkids, and extended family located from CA to NC, we wanted to be free to travel when we’d like – without the demands of a large house and yard – while still enjoying a great outdoor setting, where we can perform gardening and landscape activities along with neighbors. There’s been no shortage of fun (and work), with participation in game and movie parties, University presentations, regular group dinners and coffees, and discussions of some off-the-wall subjects!
For the past five years we lived in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, NM – enjoying retirement and grandkids. Prior to that we had lived in Tulsa, Honolulu, the Los Angeles area, Sacramento, and Boston.
Chuck’s early years were spent in the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello, and Ronda grew up in Pryor, OK. We met in college and married in northern California in the rambunctious ‘60’s.
Chuck studied at Pepperdine University, worked for Schick in LA and Shell Oil in Tulsa, was a radio DJ in Honolulu and Tulsa, and founded AyerPlay Productions (a Tulsa recording studio and marketing company). For over 20 years, he travelled with guide dogs, due to RP.
Ronda graduated at Simmons GSM in Boston and enjoyed a career in business, including State of CA, IBM, American Airlines, co-founding and operating AyerPlay Productions, and finally managing an IT department at Williams in Tulsa.
Chuck uses adaptive technology (computer, screen reader, iPhone, etc.) to keep up to date on many newspapers, magazines, books, and facebook. He also is a master baker, and enjoys talking with anyone. He was a runner in the past, but now sticks to walking.
Ronda enjoys traveling, biking, hiking, and (fanatical) Pickleball!!
Our very favorite activities, though, are doing ANYTHING with our 4 grandkids and/or their parents, our daughters and sons-in-law.
I was born in California and lived and worked there all of my life. I attended Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles and worked in several fields of nursing during my career. After I retired I was not happy with the isolated lifestyle and lack of community in the neighborhoods where I lived. I much prefer the interdependence and opportunities for interaction in our Oakcreek community, as well as the challenges that come with self-governance.
My adult son is in California and he is getting an education on my life as a community member as he comes to Oklahoma to visit.
I love my little home and life here at Oakcreek; beautiful flowers and open space, great neighbors and all of the many entertainment and cultural opportunities in a college town.
Listen to Cheryl's interview
The community of small farms where I grew up in my early years had many of the same characteristics as Oakcreek Community. People knew and cared about each other, helped each other, worked together on big and small projects and had fun together. The setting with a pond, creek, and river on my family’s part of the community seemed like paradise to me. (Oakcreek’s 7+ acres has a creek on its west side.) When I was a teenager, my mom, dad, sister and I moved to a farm in another state where the farmsteads were more than a mile apart. I missed the comfort that comes with having close neighbors.
I went to college in Minnesota, taught elementary children for several years in Catonsville, Maryland, moved to Tucson to attend the university there, and began my longer career as a children’s librarian. In Stillwater, I worked at OSU Library and retired in 2008. About a year later, when I really wasn’t looking for a different place or way to live, I attended the first public meeting about cohousing in Stillwater. I hadn’t heard the term, passed it by at the time, and didn’t follow up until several months later when I was invited to a smaller get-together of people who had “signed-on.” Everyone was positive about the concept, and at some point at that event, maybe the memory of my childhood paradise was awakened, so I joined the group that day.
It’s been almost 5 years since we moved in. Every day I’m amazed that 24 households of people have learned to put into practice the good things about living with neighbors close by, working together to accomplish something big or little, and being so grateful about it all. It’s a very good thing to recapture something wonderful from one’s childhood, and this is it!
Listen to Donna's interview
I moved to Oakcreek with the anticipation of having neighbors that I would grow to know and enjoy and that has happened. I like walking to my home, knowing who lives in each home and knowing that I might enjoy a conversation with one or more as I pass by. It is nice coming out my door and knowing I can easily check-in with a neighbor. Even nicer is knowing my neighbors. We are a diverse group with much to appreciate about each other.
In my last year of college, I lived in an experimental co-ed dorm, where a group of 24 shared a four-plex apartment building, using the living rooms in the men’s apartments as a shared living room and the kitchens in the women’s apartments as shared kitchens. We became a cohesive group of 24 instead of four sub-sets. I like to think of Oakcreek as a similar experience with a lot more personal space and no term papers. Not everyone likes to watch sports or play games as much as I do and I don’t run or bike as much as some, but there is something that I enjoy about each and every person here. In addition, there are wonderful pets my neighbors share with me. There are lots of smiles, welcomes and wagging tails each day as we move about our day in the presence of our neighbors. AND we share common meals about every 5 days. I enjoy taking my turn to cook those meals and I enjoy sitting down with my neighbors for good food and good company. Plus, there is the benefit of not having to cook when it is not my turn to serve as cook!
An unexpected pleasure of living at Oakcreek is the process of managing our community affairs together instead of having some distant or not-so-distant management company manage us. We have learned how to make decisions consensually. We have learned how to operate teams to get our work done. The best part is that when we get together as a group to work on a situation and when we use our best practices, we get to solutions and practices that we would not have gotten to without all of our input. That is another benefit of the community that we have created and continue to create as we share this beautiful space that is Oakcreek.
Listen to Anne's interview
Living at Oakcreek can be a move toward a good quality of life. The opportunity to interact with others is available. Group meals provide for healthy eating and getting acquainted. Through team work the residents keep an attractive and well maintained community. There is “built in” motivation to keep alert, stay healthy and be active.
There is wisdom, ability and experience within the community. A “helping hand” can be extended when one needs it. The surprise is the diligence of the Oakcreek members to resolve problems that may arise. Group members functioning in harmony is a priority. This is a place where people have some insight and understanding for a good quality of life while aging.
Karen and Ulrich
Ulrich: Born in London, England, Ulrich Melcher grew up in New York City and Westport, Connecticut. Ulrich obtained a BS from the University of Chicago, and PhD from Michigan State University, both in Biochemistry. During his studies he met and later married Karen Joy Sandstedt. He was a NATO postdoctoral scientist in bacterial genetics at Aarhus University’s Molecular Biology Laboratory in Denmark, where daughter Sonya was born, and then in molecular immunology at New York University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Second daughter, Katherine, was born in Dallas. Ulrich obtained a faculty position at OSU in 1975 and has lived in Stillwater except for a sabbatical period in Strasbourg, France on a Fulbright fellowship. Currently, Ulrich is R.J. Sirny Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Adjunct Professor in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.
Karen: A native Nebraskan, I left there after graduating from the University of Nebraska to attend graduate school at Purdue University. After getting an MS in Biochemistry I took a job as a technician at the Plant Research Lab at Michigan State where I met Ulrich. From Michigan we moved to Aarhus Denmark where our daughter Sonya was born. We then lived for a short time in New York City before moving to Dallas. Our second daughter Katherine was born there. We left Dallas for Stillwater and have lived here for over 38 years.
I worked making media, setting up labs, and doing various other tasks in Veterinary Medicine before retiring. As a retiree and before, I have been active in the League of Women Voters, most recently a co-president of the state League. Until we moved I also tutored international women in English as a second language and am looking forward to again having time to work with and become friends with more of Stillwater’s international community.
Listen to Karen's interview
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