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Meet our members

Barb Bailey with her grandson, Sawyer

Barb Bailey with her grandson, Sawyer

Barbara Bailey

I've been involved in this cohousing project since its genesis, and I'm planning on making the move to Prairie Hill my last!

I currently work full-time as the finance manager for a non-profit housing developer. I am certified as a Housing Development Finance Professional and have worked on the construction development team for a number of affordable housing projects.

I serve on the board of directors of a non-profit organization called Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing. Its mission is to develop resources to allow cohousing communities to make units more affordable to those with lower incomes.

My experiences with community life have been varied. In the 70's, I shared several large houses with others. In each, we all had a private bedroom, but shared common spaces, and occasionally cooked together—it was a lot of fun. I also spent many years working in businesses that were managed collectively. As a result, I acquired a lot of skills in group processing and consensus decision-making.

I devote a good deal of time to my job, and on bringing the Prairie Hill project to fruition. But whenever I can, I enjoy spending time with my 20-something children, Clara and Silas, my 87-year-old mother, Lila, and extended family and friends in the Iowa City area. I love being outdoors—gardening, bicycling, hiking—doing most anything active in the fresh air.

I'm looking forward to getting this project done and having more time for travel and recreation. I will retire sometime in the not too distant future and intend to see more of the special places in this world.

My two cats, Tinker and Winky, and I are looking forward to moving into a community of like-minded souls. I'm particularly looking forward to the companionship, the sharing of food, and to working together to make Prairie Hill a place where we will all flourish.

Write to Barb at

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Annie and David Tucker in their garden

Annie and David Tucker

We have four adult children who live on the east and west coasts and in Minnesota. Several times during our life together we have lived in community with others from the U.S. and other countries. Over the years, we have also had other families share our home.

Annie: I am drawn to cohousing because I think everything takes a village. The extrovert part of me is energized by being with people of all ages. The introvert part of me will have solitude when desired. I am looking forward to downsizing, simplifying and being more energy-efficient. I do not want to use natural gas: I want no part of fracking. I am looking forward to being part of a diverse neighborhood. I am on the Board of Managers and am heartened by our resilience, stamina and good spirits as we continue to move forward. I believe in the power of a process that respects the value of each perspective. It is helping us create our path forward together. 

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Carolyn Dyer

After 38 years teaching journalism at the University of Iowa, Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I retired to do something else. A former newspaper and radio reporter, I taught reporting and writing classes as well as journalism history and First Amendment law to undergraduate and graduate students and published scholarly articles. I have worked as a reporter in Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin.

I enjoyed 15 minutes of fame after learning that the person who ghostwrote the first Nancy Drew books was an Iowa journalism alum. One thing led to another, and I organized the “first ever” Nancy Drew Conference at the University of Iowa in 1993. The conference attracted participants from all over the country and won the attention of all the major newspapers and television networks and media from around the world. I edited a book, Rediscovering Nancy Drew, which was based on the conference.

While teaching, I spent a lot of free time renovating and restoring houses. All the while I dreamed of designing and building a new house. During my early years I went to school in Radburn, New Jersey, one of the first modern planned communities in the U.S. I am a member of the Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission, the governmental body that reviews plans for new buildings and developments in the community. These experiences and others have prepared me for discovering Iowa City Cohousing as a means of both building a new home and participating in an intentional community.

Write to Carolyn at

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Nan with her grandsons, Henry (left) and Gus.

Nan Fawcett

Growing up on an Iowa farm and playing in the fields and streams instilled in me a need for wildness and rural lifestyles for the rest of my life. Early adulthood found me living with my husband and two daughters in a mountain cabin in the Black Mountains of North Carolina, where we also owned and operated World Around Songs, a small publishing business. Our home was on the outskirts of Celo Community, the oldest intentional community in North America, and the friendly cooperative spirit there made it a wonderful place to raise a family. Once our children were grown, I went back to school to finish my undergraduate studies in environmental education, and then later returned to school again for a masters in counseling. Eventually the counseling work brought me back to Iowa, where I was Dean of Students at Scattergood Friends School until I officially retired several years ago.

Retirement has been as challenging and engaging as ever my work life was. I started two small businesses: Stillpoint Bodywork (I am a massage therapist specializing in Craniosacral Therapy) and Wapsinonoc Gardens (growing and teaching about medicinal and culinary herbs). At present, my two cats and I live in the family farmhouse. I love reading British mysteries, singing, gardening and playing games.

As are most Prairie Hill members, I’m passionate about the environment. I like to look at the world from a holistic viewpoint, noticing how different systems interact. I’m especially interested in human sustainable systems and have been a student of group dynamics for years, exploring what allows people to get along well together. I’m convinced that individual needs and group needs don’t have to be in conflict, and that when a community is functioning well, there’s much more likelihood that its individuals are fulfilled and happy. I’m looking forward to participating in the creation of one of those flourishing communities here in Iowa City!

Write to Nan at

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Del Holland

After 30 years of teaching at all levels, from elementary to university, I retired. During most of my career I taught in public alternative high schools in Iowa—first in Mason City, then 19 years in Iowa City, and finally in Cedar Rapids. I am a charter member of the Iowa Association of Alternative Schools, and served on its board for a number of years, part of the time as the president of the organization. In preparation for my teaching career, I earned a Master of elementary education from the University of North Dakota and a Bachelor’s of Science in biology at the University of Kansas.

I have been involved in many dimensions of environmental activism in the Iowa City area. For nearly 25 years, I have been on the board and chair of Environmental Advocates and I have been a member of the Johnson County Trails Advisory Committee since its inception.

I am most active now in the Bike Library where I help supervise Salvage Night activities where we triage the bicycle donations, up-cycling as much as we can and minimizing our contribution to the landfill. Recently, I have been helping with the establishment of Iowa River Friends, a group which is dedicated to enjoying, protecting, and improving the Iowa River watershed. Iowa City Cohousing will allow me to better live my environmentalist values by significantly lessening the carbon footprint of my residence as well as providing a healthy, supportive, sharing community in which to live.

Write to Del at

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John McGonegle

I grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa and currently live in Blue Grass Iowa, but have also lived in Idaho, Hawaii, India and Kuwait. I received my bachelor's degree from University of Iowa and am looking forward to moving back to a college town for the continuous learning opportunities. I recently completed my Masters Degree in Leadership from St. Ambrose University.  I work as a consulting electrical engineer and have an interest in energy conservation and alternative energy systems. I enjoy reading, camping, riding motorcycles, and traveling. So far I have made it as far north as Kirkenes Norway and as far south as, South Island New Zealand.

I have one daughter, Colleen, who is currently working towards her masters degree at the Royal College of Arts in London. I come from a family of ten children, so have some experience with common meals and group living.

I joined Iowa City Cohousing to help develop a community that I have a vested interest in and will take great satisfaction watching and helping it mature, as I too mature and retire.  The idea of small energy efficient houses has been an interest of mine for many years.

I am a member of the building committee and working on the rooftop Photovoltaic design for the units. I am looking forward to participating particularly in the energy conservation, recycling and alternative energy initiatives at Prairie Hill. I would like to see Prairie Hill be an example of a sustainable community for the Midwest.

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Becky Kessler

Becky Kessler with her son, Joseph, and daughter, Cristina.

Becky Kessler

I was born and grew up in Iowa City. At the University of Iowa, I earned degrees in business and linguistics. In between those two degrees, I spent a number of years as a non-degree student enrolling in Spanish language courses. Over the years, I have mainly worked in the areas of accounting and administration.  In addition, I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) Reading and Grammar while serving as a teaching assistant and I also enjoy tutoring ESL students on occasion. Currently, I substitute in the Iowa City public schools and am learning new things every day!

My interests include travel, languages, reading, live theatre, cooking, nutrition, and gardening.  Staying physically active is also a priority, and I enjoy hiking, bicycling, swimming, jogging, and yoga (which I just took up this past year). Spending time with family and friends is important to me, and I’m fortunate to have many of both in Iowa City and elsewhere in Iowa. Cristina, my daughter, still lives nearby and recently received her combined MD/MPH degree. Her brother Joseph lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan in the fashion industry. 

I’m very excited to be a part of Iowa City Cohousing! Currently, I serve on the Finance and Legal Committee. Some of the things that I look forward to include helping with the community garden, preparing and eating meals together, and experiencing a strong sense of community with like-minded folks who value simple and sustainable living. I will miss my current neighborhood and neighbors, but I will not miss my house and yard which have both become way too big for just me!  Instead, I envision myself and other Prairie Hill members spending less time on property maintenance and more time on building and maintaining community.   

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Marcia Shaffer

For 25 years in Iowa City I worked as a landscape designer, mainly doing residential design.  Working out of my home, drawing up and selling landscape plans, enabled me to be at home with my children, Greg and Brad as they grew up. They both now have children of their own and Brad is a grandfather. My husband of 50 years passed away in 2013 so I find myself alone in a big house. While I appreciate my own space I look forward to living in a community where I can have companionship when I want it.

Wherever I have lived I have made flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Being outside is important to me. Through the years my husband and I spent many vacations camping in the mountains and hours bird watching. I also love to read and to quilt.
I am so concerned about climate change that it has become a focus of my life. I’m determined to lower my carbon footprint and feel that living at Prairie Hill is one way to do that. Prairie Hill will enable me to leave my car in its parking place and walk or ride my bike to many activities.  Two of my environmental activities are working with 100 Grannies for a Livable Future and working with the Earthcare Working Group to write a book on eating a locally grown winter diet. 

I look forward to cohousing because of the opportunity to live in a group setting. Sharing coffee together in the morning and some meals in the evening is a pleasant prospect.  

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Gloria amidst sculptures at the Guggenheim

Gloria Zmolek

I retired from teaching studio art and AP Art History at Linn-Mar High School in June 2015. My main immediate goal for retirement is to spend more time with family and friends. One of the ways to achieve that, I felt, would be to downsize from my 3-bedroom, century-old house where I’ve lived for over 30 years.  A move into a smaller dwelling would mean I would not have to spend as much time maintaining my property and leave me more time to spend in my community.

Until I found out about the Iowa City Cohousing community, I had no idea where I would move. Living in this community is exactly what I want and need. I cherish my solitude but at the same time, I’m very social. I love the idea that I will be able to have companionship without always having to make prior arrangements or drive across a town to see my friends. How often do people say when running into each other, “We’ll have to get together for lunch,” and a year may go by before they even see each other again? The intention is real but because of the physical distance it often tends to not happen.

I grew up in the '50s when our mothers stayed home and met for coffee on a regular basis. I would run to the store for Mrs. Powers, an elderly next door neighbor, and would shovel the sidewalks for Dilly and Geraldine because my father said, “That’s just what you do.” My neighbor Breezy Jones was a glass blower who blew test tubes for my brother Steve so he could perform his science experiments. We knew all our neighbors and shared lawnmowers and cups of sugar. The world has changed, but cohousing is a way of recreating the sort of neighborhood community that supports people as they journey through life.

The diversity, accomplishments and passion of the members who have joined Iowa City Cohousing are impressive. I’m humbled by all of the hard work of the members who have been working on this project for years. They are people who care about community and the world we live in, and I think it will be amazing getting to share my life with them. I will grow.

My son, Nathan, is a Seattle computer programmer by day and tango afficionado by night. My daughter, Laurel, is an ELL teacher in Sofia, Bulgaria, by day and a Bulgarian folk/Salsa dancer by night—amongst other things. So, I’m very happy that there will be guest rooms that will be available for them when they come to visit.

I have worked as a teacher on all levels and a variety of subjects but mostly art. Between teaching gigs, I worked as an independent artist for 18 years in the medium of handmade paper. Current passions include, but are not limited to, salsa dancing and yoga. I completed my certification to teach yoga at Hothouse Yoga in Iowa City and currently teach classes in Cedar Rapids and North Liberty.

Many of my friends are distressed by the fact that I will be moving out of my home because it has been the setting for a lot of really fun parties. I’m glad I will have a common house as an option for gathering with the larger community. I seem to be a verb (a line borrowed from the title of a book written by F. Buckminster Fuller).

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Michele McNabb

As a Marine Corps ‘brat’ my family pulled up stakes every two or three years, so I never really had a hometown or knew extended family members, but I did have the experience of learning how to adapt to new environments. We finally settled in California, where I received a BA and MA in Scandinavian Languages and Literatures from UC-Berkeley. However, travel had firmly rooted itself in my blood, and as an adult I lived in Denmark (my ‘soul home’), Spain, Canada and Lebanon before coming to the Midwest in 1979. When my two sons were in school, I upgraded an interesting hobby by getting a Masters in Library & Information Science, specializing in genealogy and local history collections. After positions in Illinois and Indiana, I retired in 2016 from the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa, where I’d been the librarian/genealogist/translator for 14 years.

I had originally planned on being a ‘vagabond’ after retirement, but gradually I realized that I needed a home base to return to, preferably in a city with a major university, as well as a sense of community, since my friends and family are spread all over the globe. I have been interested in environmental issues since the 1970s and became familiar with cohousing in the 1980s, when several of my friends in Denmark chose that kind of living arrangement. My family got to experience cohousing on a small scale when we lived in a 5-family shared farmhouse outside of Copenhagen for eight months. When I heard about the Prairie Hill Cohousing project, it seemed like the perfect answer to my retirement dream, and I and my three cats look forward to downsizing and living a more simple life.

After retiring I intend to continue doing freelance work as a translator and genealogist. Besides genealogy, traveling and languages, I’m an avid reader, especially of Scandinavian series mysteries or those written by or featuring women, and I also like films and theatre and hope to find some kindred souls among my Prairie Hill neighbors. I also like to bowl as well as to dig in the dirt, although I’m anything but a systematic gardener. After many years of living by and for myself I look forward to sharing work, play and new experiences with my neighbors and hopefully will have something to offer them.

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Donna Rupp

My life has been a series of fortunate events that have led me to Prairie Hill and the cohousing community. It makes one a great believer in fate… or at the very least serendipity.

I have three children who by chance divided themselves somewhat evenly between Des Moines and Chicago suburbs. More significantly I must admit, the grandchildren, all five of them, drew me to Iowa City from which I could make short work of a trip to any of them in 2 to 3 hours. That’s what grandmothers do. Molly, Maggie, Maci, Carson and Abbey call me “G” when I drop in every two or three weeks.

My first exposure to Iowa City came as I studied dental hygiene at the University of Iowa. After twenty years of being down in other peoples’ mouths and an amicable divorce I had a chance to reinvent myself. I became a teacher with a reputation. For ten years I taught elementary school in Mt. Pleasant and then good fortune led me to the Rio Rancho, New Mexico to support my mother after my father’s death. While there I reinvented myself again by becoming a school librarian. It is the best job in teaching and the only thing I could bear to do given the trends in education. But after 13 years, I was ready to get back to Iowa, to my kids and to the best state and the nicest people. Retirement four years ago allowed me to return “home.”

My sisters worried I would have “period of adjustment” at retirment. But no, I took to it with relish. No angst, no dreams of walking the halls again, no longing for little faces looking up at me hopefully. The new me was excited to read an adult book in just a day or two, address my itch to be creative, and live simply. As luck would have it, I moved into my little apartment the summer of 2012, the summer of the draught. That meant NO INSECTS to make a meal of me as I sat on my deck for hours reading. My dog Buddy and I took long walks and I got reacquainted with Iowa City by joining 100 Grannies for a Livable Future and the Senior Center. There in the elevator was the sign inviting me to consider Iowa City Cohousing. It took me three years to take up the invitation.

I’m a maker and a problem solver. I knit, weave, read, and write occasionally. I make assemblages and signs from repurposed and recycled materials. I’m good at being a friend. But I like my self-time too, and given the choice of a party or a walk, I’ll take a walk every time. Cohousing came along at the point when I admitted I needed to be part of a closer community. That’s the serendipity I can embrace….and sort of count on.

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Craig Mosher

Craig Mosher

I grew up in Iowa City, went to Antioch College in Ohio to study chemistry (pre-med), then to Columbia in New York for a doctoral program in psychology and anti-war demonstrating. In the early 1970s I helped create a 200-person intentional community in an abandoned candy factory in San Francisco and developed a love for helping create community. Then for 25 years I directed social service agencies, taught social work, did low-income housing development with Habitat and others, and helped raise a family in eastern Iowa. Two of my four children and five grandkids live in Iowa City so I will have lots of time with them!

I like to think of myself as a resilient sustainable community developer. I retired after eleven years teaching social work at Luther College where I taught social policy, community organizing, and systems theory and took students to Des Moines to lobby the legislature, and to Scandinavia to study sustainability and the future that lies ahead—as climate change and a changing economy transform our world.

I see Prairie Hill as a remarkable opportunity to learn how a cohousing project like this can become a resilient, sustainable community, which is ecological and efficient in design and, more importantly, provides opportunities for the growth of a close-knit community where people build relationships and trust so that we care for each other, draw upon each other’s strengths and skills, and support each other’s needs. I’m excited to imagine gardening together, charging our shared all-electric cars with solar electricity, and caring for each other over the years.

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Dan Treadway

Dan Treadway

I was raised a Quaker attending the Scattergood School near West Branch, Iowa. I continue to practice Quakerism and so one thing that attracts me to cohousing is the group decision making process, where everyone has a voice. I'm a 1979 graduate of Earlham College, where I majored in Church History. I retired from Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames, IA where I worked in the computer room from the time we had one computer in the whole hospital to when it had over a thousand. Prior to that, in the late 1980s, I was Business Manager at Scattergood for four years. I currently live in Gilbert, IA. By avocation, I'm a genealogist. I enjoy volunteering at Food at First in Ames.

For me, there are many attractive features that the Iowa City Cohousing has to offer. I am looking forward to living in a place where I know my neighbors. I value the built in community that cohousing provides while at the same time having my own home where I will have privacy when I choose. I look forward to sharing in the preparation of meals as well as the partaking. I strongly share the ecological responsibility which is so important to the members of this community. I look forward to working in the orchard that we will plant. Finally, I love the location. It will be great to live in a community where there are so many services within walking distance.

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Dean Petersen

Written by Gloria Zmolek

Dean Petersen grew up in Elk Horn, Iowa on a farm. Gathering eggs was his first chore. When I asked him if he was planning on having chickens at Prairie Hill, he laughed and said no, but that he'd be happy to serve as a chicken consultant. When he was twelve, he had a life altering event. The John Deere tractor he was driving flipped and pinned his legs. He had to have both of his legs amputated—one below his knee and one above.

Dean attended Iowa State and got his degree in Agricultural Engineering. His first job was at Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, Iowa. He next went back to farm in Elk Horn for five years. It was during the farm crisis and times were tough, so he returned to engineering. He took a job as chief engineer at Rolfes in Boone, Iowa, and eventually moved to Todd & Sargent in Ames.

At his home in Ames, he offered to tear down a fence and plant a prairie garden for his neighbor, Mady Henry. They became good friends and good neighbors for many years. Now they are husband and wife. Dean and Mady moved to Lafayette, Indiana about five years ago when Mady accepted a position at Purdue. Dean continued to work from a distance on projects for his company in Ames until he retired a couple years ago. He loves it. He jokingly says that he does the same tasks that he used to do but it takes about three times as long.

Dean feels that cohousing is the perfect situation for him and Mady. It will be great to live closer to family. Daughter Carlie and her husband Blake and their daughter Alana live in Iowa City and daughter Erica and her husband Andy and their boys Conner and Logan live in Ames. Since Carlie and Blake are the only people he knows in Iowa City, moving into a cohousing community will give him an immediate circle of friends. He’s attracted to the values of the community and the shared concerns for sustainability. He is interested in working on the land and especially is looking forward to developing the prairie. He enjoys the variety of personalities in his new community and is looking forward to working and playing with them.

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Mady Henry

Mady Henry

Written by Gloria Zmolek

Mady, the only child of older parents (her father was 52 when she was born) grew up in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, a blue collar suburb of Minneapolis. She had two great uncles who died in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. Her mother’s parents came from Croatia and Bohemia and met in Omaha. Mady had the good fortune of attending great public schools and credits public education as having a huge impact on her life. She attended the University of Minnesota where she received her doctorate in the Classics. She and Dean currently reside in Lafayette, Indiana and also have a condo in Minneapolis.

Mady has taught at Concordia College and Iowa State University, and is currently the head of Languages and Cultures at Purdue University. She anticipates retiring in the near future.

She has always valued neighborhood life. Seeing the trees grow and change, the people working and playing and the joy of watching the kids grow up brings her great pleasure. It was in her neighborhood in Ames where she got to know Dean.

Cohousing appeals to Mady because she likes the idea of living in a community that has come together by choice. She shares the cohousing values of helping each other out, being environmentally responsible, and fostering diversity. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge of cooking, sewing and gardening with her neighbors as well as learning from them. She got acquainted with beekeeping in Ames and would love to participate in beekeeping at Prairie Hill. The idea of having her own place but at the same time being able to walk out her door and go to the common house or go work in the orchard or the garden makes it easy for her to imagine being very happy living in at Prairie Hill. The fact that it is located in a town with outstanding medical facilities and the rich cultural environment of a university makes it particularly appealing to her. She looks forward to biking downtown and hopping on the bus to explore the area. And of course, there is the added bonus that she has family here.

I finished my interview by telling Mady about my experience reading Dante’s La Comedia in Italy. And now we plan to explore Dante together when we move into Prairie Hill. (And Mady says she will help Dean with the chickens!)

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Tracey Achenbach

Written by Gloria Zmolek

Tracey grew up in rural Johnson County, second oldest of four kids. Shortly before she was born, her father took her mother to see an old abandoned schoolhouse. It had trees growing in it and animals roaming inside. This was the place destined to become Tracey's childhood home. When her mom first saw it, she sat down and cried. But, Tracey is so glad that her father had the vision to make that bold move. She loved growing up in the country with her parents, two brothers and a big sister.

After graduating from high school, Tracey spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Tehuacan, Mexico. Her motivation was to become fluent in Spanish, and by the time she left a year later, she was dreaming in Spanish. That year in Mexico opened her eyes up to a world she had never imagined.

Without the resources to go to college, she took jobs with the Department of Human Services in Muscatine and the turkey plant in West Branch where she worked as a translator. When she had enough money, she enrolled in a technical school in Brownsville, Texas because of its proximity to Mexico. She later transferred to the University of Texas in Austin. A class there in urban planning influenced her career path.

Personal challenges in Austin forced her to leave school and move back to Iowa to get a job. Working in her first job, she discovered she had bookkeeping skills. This eventually led her to start her own business, Main Street Sweets, in West Liberty while also running a small bookkeeping business on the side.

in 1990, she sold her business and returned to school at the University of Iowa where she finished her BA in sociology and earned an MA in urban planning with an emphasis in affordable housing—great training for her current position as executive director of the Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County.

Tracey is active in the community. She is the president of the Old Capitol Kiwanis whose mission is to serve kids, a cause very dear to her heart.

She will soon be living in one of the four studio apartments on the second floor of the Common House. The thing she most values about cohousing is the opportunity to live in a community where she can have a place of her own while at the same time having community close by. She says, “I like to be by myself, but I know that I need others, so here at Prairie Hill, I will have the best of both worlds.”

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Val Bowman

Val Bowman

I spent my first 12 years in Keokuk, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi and I have maintained connections with friends there, including several kindergarten classmates. My connection to Iowa City is that it is the home of my granddaughter, Vanessa, her wife Natalie and their three-year-old son, Emmons. That is one of the things that would draw us to leave the foothills of the Sierras in Auburn, California. One of the hardest parts about leaving is that I have a daughter, Kara, and son, Dan, who live here. We will be visiting each other often. 

My husband, John, and I have long been interested in cohousing and we were very involved in a project in Oakland, California. It didn’t make it but we kept looking for several more years. We had about given up the dream when Vanessa told us about a project the company she worked with was involved in – Prairie Hill. A visit to check it out in 2017 convinced us that this could be our new home. We were drawn to the people involved, the light environmental footprint and the idea of sharing resources with people who care about us. Also very appealing are the idea of an orchard and large garden and being a model for other communities.

We’ve had many adventures in 38 years of marriage, the biggest being a year spent in Paramaribo, South America, with the Peace Corps when I was 58 and John was 67. We’ve lived in many different places with John’s career in newspapers. I’ve worked with him at two newspapers and also as a fundraiser for nonprofits. Now we co-edit a newsletter for a Senior Active Aging Center in Marin County. 

I hope that my training in Nonviolent Communication will help me make contributions to the community. I am also excited about helping recruit new families to Prairie Hill. I love making connections and networking. I am an active Unitarian Universalist and am passionate about Black Lives Matter, Dreamers, LGBTQ issues and empowering women. I plan to spend lots of time at Prairie Lights Bookstore and sharing genealogy tips with some of my neighbors. Feel free to contact me at

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John Bowman

John Bowman

During the first eleven years of my life I was an only child. So, I was excited when my brother, Philip, came along. But even then it was a small family. I envied those big families in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. That might partially explain why Val and I have eight grown kids between us, along with 19 grandkids and ten great-grandkids! Our big family is scattered from California to Florida.

Being a newspaper reporter and then editor has taken me to numerous towns in Indiana, Illinois and California. My last newspaper job was as general manager of the Daily Californian, the UC Berkeley student newspaper. Since “retiring,” Val and I have been co-editors of a monthly publication for a senior center in Marin County, California, and I love teaching and writing poetry. I have a poetry chapbook titled This Could Be the House I Die In

We have been interested in cohousing since we first heard of it. We have visited a number of cohousing communities in California and were part of a group that worked for eight months on a project in Oakland, California. Sadly, it unraveled in the eleventh hour. All of the California projects we toured were out of our price range.

I hope to contribute to the Prairie Hill community in at least three ways: marketing, helping to recruit new members, and working in the orchard. During WWII I lived with an aunt and uncle on a ten-acre plot outside of Fort Wayne. My uncle proudly planted and grew apples, pears and peaches. I was only four or five, but I loved watching him work. I intend to learn all I can about how to keep an orchard vibrant.

The biggest draw to Prairie Hill for me is the community. I want to live in a “village” of people who are active, politically progressive, well-read and interested in building community in a collaborative way. The folks I have met so far are the kind of people I want to be around on a daily basis. I am also excited about living in Iowa City with a great university nearby, with good basketball teams, and plenty of nature handy, including the river. Also, we are Unitarian Universalists, so the new church in Coralville is a big draw for us. As for the winters, well, there are blizzard parties and all those family members in Sacramento and Fort Meyers Beach who would love to see us in January and February. Contact me at