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Meet our members

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

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 will receive her combined MD/MPH degree in May of 2016.  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 have recently completed my certification to teach yoga at Hothouse Yoga in Iowa City.

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’ll be retiring in mid-summer 2016 from the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa, where I’ve 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 8 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 2 or 3 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 10 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 4 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.