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Meet our members

Barb Bailey with her granddaughter, Sid

Barbara Bailey

As one of the founders of Prairie Hill I am thrilled to have recently moved into our newly completed home! It is unbelievably satisfying to just stand and look at what we have created together as a group and with our professional partners. I love the look of the developing site with the graceful retaining walls and curving road and walkways.

I recently retired from work as the finance manager for a non-profit affordable 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 spent many years working in non-profit businesses that were managed collectively. As a result, I acquired skills in group processing, decision-making and interpersonal communication that have been invaluable in my life.

My experiences with community life have been varied. In the 70's and 80's I shared several large houses with others. In all, we each had our private bedrooms but shared common spaces, occasionally we enjoyed cooking and eating together—it was a lot of fun.

I devote a good deal of time to bringing the Prairie Hill project to fruition. But whenever I can, I love spending time with our grown children, grandchildren, parents and extended family and friends in the Iowa City area and beyond. I love being outdoors—gardening, bicycling, hiking, camping—doing most anything active in the fresh air.

I'm looking forward to getting this project finished and having more time for travel and recreation. When we complete our community in the not too distant future I intend to see more of the special places in this world with my partner Del.

I am so enjoying living in this community of like-minded souls. I'm particularly enjoying the companionship, the sharing of good food and good times, and working together to make Prairie Hill a place where we all will 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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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 allows 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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Michael Pacha and Mary Beth Versgrove

Michael and Mary Beth became members of Iowa City Cohousing in May, 2014.  Michael and Mary Beth wed in December 2006 and their blended family consists of two sons, two daughters, and two grandchildren who now all reside in other states.

Mary Beth is a retired pharmacist and currently building a client base as a certified Healing Touch practitioner. Michael works a driver and unofficial beanbag basketball/baseball team coordinator at Legacy Retirement Community.

Both are looking forward to building a new home in an Iowa City neighborhood that fulfills their dreams of aging in place. Prairie Hill supports their interests in gardening, along with environmentally conscious living as a whole. They find joy in the companionship of other members in the community and are enthusiastic about all of the shared ventures each new member brings to the group. Learning new things and being challenged to work for the greater good of all makes this new expanded “family” a special way for both Michael and Mary Beth to continue growing.

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Marcia Shaffer

Marcia Shaffer

In 2015 I found myself alone, living in a big house. My husband of 50 years had died, and my two boys were married and were busy with their families. The house I had thought I would grow old in longer seemed appropriate. It was so big, and I barely knew my neighbor’s names. At that time, I was attending the West Branch Friends Meeting along with Nan Fawcett. She was involved with the Prairie Hill Cohousing group and was so excited about it. The more I heard about it the more interested I became.

There would be a dozen buildings and lots of people to have fun with. They talked of living with a smaller carbon footprint and having solar panels. The buildings would be LEED-certified, and I could have bamboo floors or even cork floors. Prairie Hill had almost 8 acres and as a retired landscape designer that was a real drawing card. I thought there would be lots of places to garden. Think of the trees that could be planted! Think of the plants I could grow. There would be a common house where we could eat together. There would be someone to take care of my dog if I wanted to travel. They stressed diversity. I signed up!!

Before anything was built we started getting to know each other through potlucks and meetings. I noticed that there was a cute guy coming from Decorah. Even though we didn’t know each other well, Craig Mosher and I started wishing that we could live in the same building. Amazingly, this all worked out very well. We were married in April, 2017, and we now share the top floor of the stacked flat at the top of the hill. We were not unique—there are other couples who met through cohousing. When you get a group of people together who have the same values, this sort of thing happens. How fortunate I am to have found Prairie Hill Cohousing.

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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 retirement. 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 in the late 1960s 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 creating community. Then for 25 years I directed social service agencies, taught social work, did low-income housing development with Habitat and other agencies, and helped raise a family in eastern Iowa. Two of my four children and five of my eleven grandkids live in Iowa City so I 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 up in Decorah where I taught social policy, community organizing, and systems theory. I 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 love sitting on our porch and having a drink with my neighbors on warm summer evenings or walking down to the common house and having a couple of conversations with other folks on the way. I’m excited to be gardening together, building things in our community shop, charging our all-electric cars with solar energy, 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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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 a member of the Old Capitol Kiwanis whose mission is to serve kids, a cause very dear to her heart. 

Tracey lives in one of the four studio condos on the second floor of the Common House. Visitors usually comment that her condo is much larger than they would have imagined, and they are very impressed with the entire community.  Tracey agrees that her studio is the perfect size and that living at Prairie Hill has been a great choice for her. She enjoys the friendships she is forming and that she can rely on others to help her in time of need, whether it be with a dead car battery, projects, or dog sitting for her family.  

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Val Bowman

Val Bowman

I spent my first 12 years in Keokuk, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River and have maintained friendships there, including with several kindergarten classmates. Our granddaughter, Vanessa, and her wife Natalie live in Iowa City and first told us about Iowa City Cohousing. We had just about given up our dream to live in cohousing (too expensive in California where we had lived for the past 30 years.) Now we are here and it’s everything we have hoped for.

We visited last year and fell in love with both Iowa City and with our great-grandson, Emmons. Shortly after we moved here, his brother, Celso, arrived. What appealed to us about Prairie Hill were the people who worked so hard to make it happen, the lighter environmental footprint and the idea of sharing resources with people who care about us. We became the fifth and sixth residents of Prairie Hill when we moved in in May, 2018. We can walk to anything we need while being surrounded by trees, next to Benton Hill Park. We share the work and gather for meals together on Tuesdays.

John and I have had many adventures in 38 years of marriage, the biggest being living in Paramaribo, South America with the Peace Corps. 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. We devote many hours to growing the first cohousing community in Iowa. We love our new Unitarian Universalist community and living in a university town.

I am enthusiastic about helping recruit more people to Prairie Hill. I love making connections and I believe in this way of living. I’m always happy to share about the benefits of living here. Feel free to contact me at

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John Bowman

John Bowman

During the first 11 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 12 great-grandkids! Our big family is scattered from California to Florida.

I was a newspaper reporter and then editor so we lived in many 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 San Rafael, California, and I love teaching and writing poetry. I have a poetry chapbook titled This Could Be the House I Die In

I am contributing to the Prairie Hill community by helping with marketing, recruiting new members, and pitching in on Land Committee projects. 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 am delighted to live in a “village” of people who are active, politically progressive, well read and interested in supporting each other. We are enjoying working on the land with our neighbors and also finding time for the monthly sing-alongs and potlucks in the Common House and going to area events together. I love how vibrant in Iowa City is, with its great university, its outstanding basketball teams, and plenty of nature handy, including the river. Also, as a new member of the Unitarian Universalist Society, I am happy to spend time in the beautiful and green UU building in Coralville. As for the winters, well, there are blizzard parties and all those family members in Sacramento, Portland, Oregon, and Fort Meyers Beach who would love to see us in January and February. Contact me at 

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Hiking with the Road Scholar program at Big Bend National Park in Texas

Pat Ryan

Now is the time of my life. I mean that to say that there are a lot of good things happening now, including joining Prairie Hill, and to say that my goal is to live in the present moment—the now. To that end, I meditate daily, practice yoga, keep a daily joy journal, and walk in nature whenever possible. I’m far from meeting this goal, as my mind is much more skilled at assessing the past and planning for the future. I guess that’s the nature of a goal—something you haven’t reached yet.

My two cats—Otis and Rascal—and I are all enjoying life at Prairie Hill. It’s a pleasure to be enveloped in a community of folks who share my intention to “walk gently on the earth.” I find working together on tasks that keep the community running smoothly is energizing. Everyone contributes talents and spirit. Though I look forward to the time when we can again enjoy cooking and eating meals together, we’re getting very creative in finding ways to gather safely. For me, having the privacy of my own unit and the ready availability of shared time is the perfect combination.

Retired now, my professional career as a social worker and spiritual director was mostly in clinical settings, including a family service agency, a mental health institute, a psychiatrist’s office, social research, private practice, and hospice. Now I stay busy in other ways. You might find me volunteering at Crowded Closet; playing pickleball; mowing lawn or pulling weeds; marching at a rally; hanging out virtually with friends over cards, books, and conversation; or attending various Zoom meetings. Although I love to travel internationally, my favorite trips are to see my two step-kids and three grandkids in San Francisco and New York City, so I hope to be able to do that again soon.

My journey through life took a drastic turn in 2011, when my husband, of nearly 30 years, had a fatal heart attack out of the blue. I survived that loss through the support of many, many friends, old and new. It taught me how important it is to treasure what you have and that there are many good, kind, generous people on this earth—including within the community of Prairie Hill. I hope I can pay it forward in some way every day.

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Important note: Oh, my goodness! This section of our website is embarrassingly out-of-date! There are so many new members you don't see here, including two young families who keep things hopping. We promise to get things updated soon! In the meantime, come meet us on Zoom. To see the list of upcoming events, see Meetings and Events. Hope to see you soon!