Meet the people who are designing and developing Ravens’ Roost, Anchorage’s first cohousing neighborhood:
John, Michelle and their kids Ave and Lucia moved into Ravens’ Roost in August of 2017. John and Michelle first met working in the Alaska travel industry together, and have transitioned to John working in safety training and Michelle homeschooling the kids. From the beginning, their desire to move into Ravens’ Roost was always about the people. They were eager to join an incredibly diverse neighborhood with people who deliberately chose to come together for housing and community. The physical home was a secondary priority, but once moved in, they found it easy to work with the smartly-designed space and are loving their new nest. Downsizing from an older home twice the size turned out to be a very welcome change, and they are very happy with the results. Travel remains their number one hobby and they enjoy trading tips and stories with their well-traveled neighbors.
Colt is originally from Alaska; Tara is from the Pacific Northwest. After three years on the road, they are returning to roost in Anchorage. Tara is an emergency room nurse at a children’s hospital; Colt is a pilot. They are excited to invest in an environmentally responsible community designed by future residents. “Ravens’ Roost offers a safe neighborhood where we can raise children with green space, gardens, and play areas free from cars, surrounded by supportive neighbors with talents and knowledge to share.” They enjoy exploring Alaska’s backcountry and feel fortunate to participate in the subsistence lifestyle that only Alaska can provide. They look forward to sharing adventures volunteering for medical and disaster relief, sailing, rock climbing, free diving, skiing, paddling and flying.
Elizabeth, Gary, Jacob, and Anthony enjoy hiking, bike riding, and cook-outs. Elizabeth also enjoys crocheting and cooking for big parties. Gary enjoys mechanics and playing the guitar. He is looking forward to not having to make dinner every night!
Katie and Leigh are very happy to be back in Alaska. Leigh is originally from Arizona and Katie is from Georgia. They met in Anchorage, but have since lived in New Mexico and Washington D.C., working for the Indian Health Service. Leigh is an environmental engineer and Katie is an environmental health specialist. They enjoy downhill skiing, running, tennis, biking, and traveling. They are looking forward to learning how to cross-country ski this winter. Leigh and Katie are excited about the sustainable design and sense of community of Ravens’ Roost and think it will be a wonderful place to raise a family.
Betty is a lifelong Alaskan, born in Anchorage, whose family later homesteaded on the Kenai Peninsula with a dozen sled dogs. After college in Fairbanks and Anchorage, she taught secondary math, eventually choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. Despite being rhythmically and tonally challenged, her two children at early ages led her into the support role of a violin mom. Today Mike is a busy audio engineer in Anchorage, and Elizabeth is a professional violinist, living in Los Angeles with her conductor/composer husband Geoffrey.
For the past ten years Betty has been a volunteer tax preparer through AARP’s TaxAide program. She enjoys gardening (dahlias being food for the soul), games and crosswords, and looks forward to more travel. Downsizing from a large home of more than four decades to a flat at Ravens’ Roost is challenging, but she welcomes the prospect of less upkeep, greater security, and the camaraderie provided by an interactive community.
Dena came to Alaska for a summer of gold mining in the early 80’s and, after a summer in a tent dredging near Wiseman, never left. She continues to enjoy the beauty and freedom of the outdoors and loves to backpack. The past several years have seen Dena drawn to awesome mountains, but after summiting Mt Aconcagua last year and Mt Everest Base Camp the year before, she is now content to enjoy the mountains around her cabin in the Alaska Range.
Dena knows she will be a good fit for cohousing because for decades she has lived in an exceptional neighborhood in Fairbanks with neighbors who care and look out for each other. Change, though, is ever-present and Dena is now looking forward to having those beloved friends and neighbors stay in her guest bedroom at Ravens’ Roost as she develops new friendships here.
For much of her life, Dena has enjoyed working with teenagers either in state’s custody or those on probation or incarcerated, but she is now enjoying new adventures in retirement. Dena enjoys biking, skiing, and travel, especially when it includes volunteering. She recently returned from a month of volunteering in Costa Rica with the goal of becoming more fluent in Spanish. She is hoping some Ravens’ Roosters can help her achieve that goal, or will join her biking or skiing. Cohousing–the next adventure!
Melanie is a two year Alaskan, having moved here from sunny Southern California. She is the typical Alaskan story – once she arrived, she knew it was home. George arrived a year later and Melanie changed her plans from looking for a house in California to searching for an Alaskan home. They know that Ravens’ Roost will be ideal for family and friends from the lower 48 to visit. They both enjoy hiking, attending music festivals, exploring Alaska, and playing tour guide while learning about our great state.
Melanie, Grandmother of 3 and Mom of 2, is taking sewing classes and would like to learn about gardening in Alaska. The cohousing detail that most appeals to Melanie is providing a living space that fosters a community spirit.
Charissa joined Ravens’ Roost soon after she moved to Anchorage in late 2014. She jumped at the chance to live in a community of people who value diversity, living sustainably, and sharing resources and talents. She likes the idea of truly knowing her neighbors and collaborating to foster a community in the true sense of the word. Charissa grew up in Massachusetts and moved to San Francisco after college. She worked as a water resources engineer before joining the Peace Corps and moving to Honduras. As a water and sanitation volunteer with Save the Children, she helped secure funding to build water systems for 60 rural communities. Her stint with the Peace Corps led to an opportunity as a field engineer for the Indian Health Service in Utah, where she took in two stray dogs who have since accompanied her to Maryland and Alaska. She currently works on water and sanitation projects in Alaska Native communities and enjoys hiking, reading, traveling, and writing letters. She’s excited to become a part of the Ravens’ Roost family.
Kristen grew up in Alaska, and believes in making the world a better place through the universal consumption of gluten-free cupcakes and caribou. She would like nothing better than to find a mass of writhing ticks inside your ear canal (if you’re a dog). Lou was born in New York City, but came to Alaska in 1977 to find out if, as Jack London asserted, spit really does freeze in the air at 60-below. Since then, he’s worn the respective hats of a mechanic, prospector, trapper, bush pilot, engineer, and singer-songwriter. (It’s said that those people are still looking for their hats, and reportedly, are not very happy.)
Steve and Sandy grew up in California, where they met at work and became best friends. In 1981 they impulsively married and moved to Alaska, not knowing what to expect other than an adventure. It has worked out well, and together they raised 4 children. Steve has worked for many years at the Anchorage Health Department, mostly in the Air Quality Section, and Sandy was most recently a school nurse. They see Ravens Roost as their next big adventure and look forward to working with others to create a caring, supportive community.
Yolanda is originally from California, a second generation Mexican-American. She earned her Bachelors degree in nursing and continued on to receive Midwifery education at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. Yolanda joined the Air Force in 1988 and chose Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage for her first assignment. She was also stationed in Misawa, Japan for one year. Yolanda currently works as a staff nurse midwife and has attended over 2,500 births in Alaska. She loves her job and is not ready to retire.
Kate moved from Minnesota to Alaska in 1982. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owns a private practice. Kate had wanted to move to San Diego to escape the winters, but she also really loves Alaska. Kate and Yolanda chose to become a part of Ravens’ Roost because they want to be “snowbirds”, and downsizing is also appealing. They are looking forward to simplifying their lives and being part of a supportive, engaging, and active community of people. Yolanda loves to cook and thinks the Common House kitchen will be ideal for her tamale-making parties. Yolanda and Kate are active members of the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. They are excited to have neighbors close by to go hiking and biking with and engage in fun activities on Ravens’ Roost’s 6 acres of land.
Nancy recently retired after 23 years of teaching. Although the majority of her career was spent focused on middle school art, three years were engaged in special education instruction. Her career began in a Yup’ik Eskimo village where she comprised the entire middle school staff. Now she is enjoying the freedom of retirement and the opportunity to travel, hike, climb, bike, and create her own artwork.
James began a second retirement in February from his fisheries consulting job with HDR. His first retirement was from commercial fisheries management with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. One of his recent projects has been renovating a Sprinter van to serve as a mobile base camp for biking, climbing, and hiking adventures ranging from Alaska to Arizona.
Nancy and James’ son Mark has 2 part-time jobs at the Alaska Dispatch News and with Healthy Futures / Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He trains both with Alaska Winter Stars and on his own for cross-country skiing and mountain running. During the winter, he participates in the Anchorage Cup Ski Races, and in the summer, he competes in the Alaska Mountain Running Grand Prix races. Mark enjoys playing guitar and listening to music. Recently, he has been working at training his Toller puppy to appreciate the boundaries of canine/human interactions.
Phil and Susan currently live in Baltimore with their two chocolate labs, Chocolat and Brownie. We look forward to moving to Anchorage to be with our daughter, Penny, our son-in-law, Dale, and our 10-month-old granddaughter, Eloise. Ravens’ Roost is a wonderful community we look forward to moving into. It offers us the ability to make and maintain friends that would otherwise be difficult for us to develop, moving into a new area.
Phil is a sailboat captain offering charters to small and large groups in Baltimore Harbor and in Annapolis Harbor on his 46 ft. ketch, The Pintita. He is a former risk manager of a Baltimore-based oil company. Seward is a possible port for sailing and fishing adventures with our family and friends in the coming years.
Susan teaches piano and maintains a small sewing business featuring items for sale for the home and for children. She manages the Handel Children’s Choir, and has just retired from singing with The Handel Choir of Baltimore, a local semi-professional group. She continues to enjoy singing with her church choir.
Eli, originally from Germany, came to Alaska for a visit in 1975 and never left. She has a master’s degree in physical education, which she has used to teach swimming to disabled people and college students at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). Now she is an artist, specializing in sculpture.
Macon, hailing from Mississippi, arrived in 1966 to find a summer job while in college. He worked as a youth counselor and juvenile probation officer. Macon is also a former member of the Anchorage School Board.
Eli and Macon have one son, Dylan.
Nancy & Chris are entering a new phase of life and cohousing is a great fit. 2012 was the start of their newest adventure, “practicing retirement.” To launch it they bicycled from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast and down to Florida. It provided an opportunity to see, smell, and experience the country from the seat of a bicycle. Along the way they met many wonderful, generous people, rode through small towns and witnessed the everyday lives of the folks who make this nation. Chris and Nancy came home feeling fit and fortunate to have had such an awesome experience, leaving just a relatively small footprint on our environment. One of the best parts of coming home was connecting with old friends and making new friends in Ravens’ Roost. They have each been in Alaska for over 30 years and love the outdoors, the recreational opportunities such as biking year-round, ice skating, skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, running, and kayaking, and the interesting people that intersect their lives. Because neither of their families live up here, Chris and Nancy’s friends and neighbors have become their Alaskan family. As they continue to practice retirement with less work and more play they are looking forward to more time with friends, catching up on reading, and cultivating or renewing hobbies and interests. Much of their adult working careers have been in either nursing or the sciences and construction/engineering. Cohousing may not be for everyone, but for them it is a way to continue to grow and experience life with the people around us.
The Miner family is inspired by the alternatives that cohousing offers in the way of community and housing. Mary came to Alaska to work as a map maker in the mid 1970’s. She attended UAF and worked as a civil engineer for 18 years designing and building utility systems on the Navajo Indian Reservation and in the villages of western Alaska. She also enjoyed 5 years as an engineer with the National Park Service in Alaska. Mary attends the Unitarian Fellowship and looks forward to co-gardening. Mark is an elementary school teacher with the Anchorage School District. Prior to teaching, he worked an archaeologist for the Navajo Tribe and as a volunteer backcountry ranger. Mark loves the outdoors and is a passionate skier, hiker and mountain biker. Mark is well known for his classroom collection of beach sand from around the world including a sample from Antarctica. Mark & Mary have worked on many projects together, in the 1980’s they staked a remote parcel north of Talkeetna and in the 1990’s built a cabin on the land. They have 3 children, Emily, who recently graduated from law school, Ian, who works for the State of Alaska, and Robin, who works at REI. In the 1980’s, Mary and her husband Mark lived in a cohousing-like community in Fort Defiance, Arizona. It’s their dream to find a similar sense of community, friendships and fun in Ravens’ Roost.
Terri grew up west of Minneapolis. From ages 17 to 25, including her years at the University of Minnesota and three years in Bend, Oregon, she pursued cross-country ski racing at the national level. She did a summer internship with Challenge Alaska in 1990, and her love of skiing, wildlife, and intact ecosystems have kept her here. She also enjoys hiking, running, whitewater kayaking, and sea kayaking. In 1993, Terri was the instigator and first race director of the Alaska Run for Women.
Terri has put to work her M.S. in Environmental Studies, with an emphasis in environmental education, by teaching at UAA and working with nonprofits, including co-founding Bioneers in Alaska. Her studies of living more sustainably led her to spend a month at Findhorn, five weeks at Ecovillage Ithaca, and shorter visits to other ecovillages and cohousing neighborhoods. One of the many things she learned while living in these places is that she could have all of the privacy she wanted in her personal living area; and when she wanted community, it was right outside her front door. Terri looks forward to community dinners, music nights, dancing, and playing games in the common house, as well as learning new skills from talented future friends of all ages. She keeps the kid in her alive by jumping on trampolines, climbing trees, and bouncing on her pogo stick.
Allan is Inupiat Alaskan, born in Juneau and raised in Nome. In his early life he enjoyed camping, fishing and hunting at the family camp on the Pilgrim River, and attending the Upward Bound summer program for rural Alaskan youth at Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific Univ.) in Anchorage and at the University of Washington in the 1960s. He lived in West Seattle for a couple years while finishing high school, courting Cheri (love of his life) and working for her dad repairing boats. Drafted into the Army (and married) in 1971, he served in Vietnam in 1972, returning to Fort Richardson. After discharge he worked for the FAA in avionics, retiring in 2012. Rotorcrafts continue to be his favorite flying machines.
Cheri was born in West Seattle, spending her early years playing in her neighbor’s gardens, beach combing, messing around in boats, and helping out in the family dive shop. Cheri trained as a childbirth educator, which eventually led to becoming a medical foster parent with the Alaska Native Medical Center. In 1987 a tiny premature baby with multiple disabilities was placed with the family and three years later Justin legally became the third Scott kid, joining Heather Amy, and Dan. Justin is Tlingit, Athabaskan and Yupik. The joys and challenges of raising a child with complex special health needs led Cheri to assisting with the development of the Stone Soup Group, a nonprofit organization providing support and training to Alaskan families of children and youth with special needs. She retired from the agency after 20 years at the end of 2011 and is truly enjoying retirement and getting back to her childhood ways.
Favorite summer activities are gardening and long road trips on the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic with Cheri on the back and Justin in the sidecar. Our favorite winter activity is finding a warm place in the sun.
Allan and Cheri are looking forward to spending the rest of their lives in a completely accessible home in a community of active and friendly neighbors. They are especially happy with the thoughtful planning that is going into every phase of the project and excited about the potential of the cohousing concept for other families of loved ones with developmental/physical differences.
Tony was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. After studying forestry at Colorado State University, he served for two years in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Upon his return he served as a forester with the U.S. Forest Service in California and later in Craig, Alaska. From there he took an assignment with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at its headquarters in Rome, Italy where he administered forestry development projects in Latin America for about 3 years. Alaska drew him back and he earned a masters degree in Land Resources at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He eventually became a faculty member with the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and as a forester with the Cooperative Extension Service. He retired in 1996 after 23 years. Then the Peace Corps lured him back and he served a second 2-year stint in El Salvador.
Since 1998 he has taught the occasional course at the university and served as coordinator with the UAF graduate school for Peace Corps graduate programs on campus. Tony loves working with students.
Tony’s overriding passion now is the implementation of a scholarship program for poor rural girls in El Salvador. He is a board member of Project Salvador, a non-governmental organization in Denver, Colorado that sponsors this program and others. He spends one month in El Salvador each year overseeing the program and meeting with individual students.
Tony’s interests are hiking, natural history, and reading and discussing good literature. After 32 years living alone in a nice home in a 5-acre birch forest north of Fairbanks, Tony feels that it’s time to move into a community where he can continue to be of service, develop closer relationships with people and reduce his ecological footprint.
Bruce & Liz are parents who are now home alone. Liz meandered from Vermont to Alaska via Connecticut, Europe, Boston, Gabon, and Rochester, NY. Along the way she married a long-time Alaskan (Bruce), and combined her interests in science and people to become a Family Physician. Three children and one dog complete the family: Alex, pursuing Computer Graphics and bicycling as transportation in New York City; Becky, teacher, traveler, environmentalist, and Peace Corps volunteer; Kathryn, nascent chef and farm school student in Putney, VT; and Gouda, resident hairball who likes to pick his own blueberries. Liz’s other interests include hiking, berrypicking, yoga, cross-country skiing, and wildflowers. Bruce has lived in Alaska mostly since kindergarten and does remodeling, home maintenance, and computer consulting. He has been interested in personal computers since their inception. After working at data processing and some of the first computer stores in Anchorage, he was a technical editor at Byte magazine, then sold personal computers and computer networks in Rochester, NY and at ComputerLand and CompUSA in Anchorage. Bruce enjoys running, skate skiing, skijoring, hiking, hunting and fishing in Alaska.
Marilyn & Tom have called Alaska home since 1975. After graduating from the University of Washington (Marilyn in nursing and Tom in business and political science), they spent four years in Bethel working as nurse and banker. Tom built his first house in Alligator Acres. Marilyn then obtained a Masters degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at the U of Washington, and nurse midwifery credentials at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis. During her years in school, Tom was self-employed doing home and small business remodeling. In 1982 they returned to live in the Anchorage/Eagle River area. Marilyn worked as a nurse midwife at the Alaska Native Medical Center, while Tom designed and built a few homes. They moved to Dallas in 1989 so that Tom could earn a Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington. At about the time they returned to Alaska again in 1993, they read McCamant & Durrett’s book, “Cohousing,” 1st edition, and were really struck by how it so accurately characterized the void in their lives from the greatly diminished community connections that are the result of the relentless march of contemporary life. In fact, Tom bought about a dozen copies and made a small attempt to start a community in Anchorage, but quickly realized that he had neither the skills nor experience to carry it out successfully. Life went on… Their one child, Kelly, was a pleasure to parent. She attended Chugach Optional and Stellar Secondary School, and now lives in Seattle with her husband, Jayml. In addition to her clinical practice, Marilyn created a nationally-recognized infant mortality reduction project (Nutaqsiivik); founded the Anchorage FASD Diagnostic Team; and is a consultant for local, state, and federal entities working on maternal child health projects. Tom established a small architectural practice focusing on residential projects. He has built several of them because he likes the flexibility of doing some of the design work as the structure is under construction. They jumped at the chance to join and help create Ravens’ Roost Cohousing. They believe that they now have the skills and life experience to contribute and hope to enjoy the fruits of other community members’ skills and experience. Indeed, Tom is now the local architect for the project. They very much look forward to the process of creating cohousing and then living within it.
Alden traveled north to Alaska many years ago from Ann Arbor upon completion of his business degree at the University of Michigan. He spends his workdays as a CPA, then satisfies his wilderness and exercise goals while on cross country skis, or with a paddle in his hands, or with a pack on his back, all in the company of good people whenever possible. He loves singing and playing music, observing socioeconomic trends, and studying best practices for capturing solar energy and heating with wood. Alden enjoys camping and cabins; he sees our common house as basically a “really big shared cabin” where many happy campers join in and share their talents large and small to accomplish a greater good and enjoy way more fun than most people can imagine in their daily lives. He says that Ravens’ Roost promises to be the best place to raise kids, to age in place, and/or to live while actively traveling – there’s no need for security systems and house sitters when you’re surrounded by so many great neighbors! Alden appreciates the opportunity to work with so many talented Ravens to make cohousing happen in Anchorage, and he looks forward to: knowing his neighbors in a real community; working to realize the community’s values; sharing boats and paddle trips, and music and other arts; expanding his craft skills in the common workshop; and keeping the wood pile well stocked and firing the common house’s masonry stove regularly.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Val studied botany at Washington University and later earned a master’s degree in Aquatic Ecology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She served as the Provincial Wetland Habitat Coordinator with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for many years, and subsequently as an ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Atlanta.
After further graduate work at Oregon State University, Val served from 2000 to 2009 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regional Office in Anchorage. She was fortunate to travel throughout our beautiful state, mitigating impacts of diverse projects affecting waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act. This work took place in Alaska’s Southeast (Tongass Forest), the Bristol Bay watershed, and the Mat-Su Valley.
While in Alaska, Val has served as a board member for several non-profit organizations, is past president of the Alaska Chapter, Society of Wetland Scientists and is currently a board member for the Knik Canoers and Kayakers.
Now retired from government service, Val greatly enjoys gardening, cooking, and fishing. She is a recreational musher and contributes to various environmental initiatives. Val looks forward to many aspects of shared cohousing experiences, and hopes to help lay the groundwork for perennial fruit in a community orchard.
Roger was born and raised in Kansas. In 1965, while attending college, he came to Alaska “just to make money for school.” His first job was working on the Resurrection Trail where he became attached to this great land. He returned for two more summers, then spent two years in the Army, one of them in Vietnam. He always knew he’d return to Alaska, and in 1972, he returned for good. Roger worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a campground ranger, Alaska Sate Parks in a YCC camp, and the Dept. of Interior in a YACC camp on Elmendorf Air Force Base. In 1973 he had the fortune to work in the Arctic National Wildlife Range as a fish biology technician from break-up to freeze-up. In 1981 he went back to school at Alaska Pacific University to earn a teaching certificate. Roger taught in the Anchorage School District for five years, then drove a tour bus for three summers where he met his late wife, Kathleen. They were married for 17 years until he lost her to pancreatic cancer in 2007. Roger was a teacher assistant in special education at Kincaid Elementary School for 12 years, from which he retired four years ago. For the past 15 years he has been a seasonal interpretive ranger for the National Park Service at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center. Back in 1980, Roger lived in a co-op household in Rogers Park and thoroughly enjoyed it. That is why he know he’ll enjoy living in community at Ravens’ Roost.
Jan & Dick are both long-time Alaskans, originally from Idaho and Wisconsin, respectively. Jan worked in computer technology, and Dick owns a heavy equipment company on the North Slope.
“Raven Woman” prefers not to reveal her identity. She began her adventures in Alaska with a career change. The opportunity for living in a cohousing neighborhood has convinced her that she can comfortably stay in Alaska for the long term. She encourages others to think of Ravens’ Roost as the home where they can choose to have daily opportunities to interact with their neighbors or not. It presents a green alternative with shared common areas and a private home. The Ravens’ Roost Cohousing group is made up of people with diverse interests and skills to share: there is the added benefit of possible exchanges. Walking distance to trails and parks as well as shopping and businesses is an added premium. Knowing that she and her cohousing neighbors can confidently spend time away while neighbors keep an eye on the pets, plants and home is a big plus.