Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Dreams Come True

This Saturday, The Living Earth School is beginning the Red Arrow Boys Program in Belvedere. Nature awareness educators Hub Knott, Joshua Levine and Taylor, all the most awesome men ever, are bringing together boys from all over for a day of earth skills, followed by an overnight in November and more skills in December. It is a once a month program. Hub also wants to offer his homeschool program once a week in Belvedere.

We are also offering a Wild Food Talk and Walk in Belvedere on Sunday with the most awesome woman, Rain, from Shannon Farm. Getting folks outside connecting with nature and each other in Belvedere.

These nature awareness offerings are a dream come true. Really, all of Belvedere is a dream come true, a neighborhood of people really wanting to connect with each other and the more-than-human world. As with all dreams, I temper my expectations. I learned long ago that dreams can manifest and not be exactly what you expect. In some ways, Belvedere is more urban than I expected. I miss the forest being all around me, but that is just me. I can always go down into the forest around Belvedere and Dunlora and I do, quite often.

I am going to encourage these nature pieces to grow. I know Bob Hauser is encouraging them. It was his vision to get the kids off the couch to recreate the childhoods of decades ago when kids played outside. We're doing it in Belvedere!

Wild Food Talk and Walk in Belvedere

Wild Food Talk & Walk

Learn what you can harvest and eat right in your own backyard!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Belvedere Neighborhood

2 pm – 5 pm

$15 per adult, $5 per child if with adult

To Register and Directions:


katercst@gmail.com 434-996-2002 preregistration required

Gathering from the wild is a traditional skills practiced by people all around the world. This is an abundance of nutritious edibles all around us. This three-hour class will take us on a wander to rediscover and collect these foods. Get to know your place! Have Fun with other families! Connect with self, others, nature! Come on out and meet and inspiring leader, Rain, class instructor.

For the past 14 years, Rain has been weaving traditional lifeways. She currently lives in the Blue Ridge on an intentional community with her man and their six children where she has been re-claiming her Wild-Wombyn Self while Re-Membering the Ancient Skills of Wombyn-hood. Her current threads are hunting, gathering, midwifery, plant medicine, wild foods and tribal culture.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Community Updates: Annual HOA meeting

Belvedere is doing awesome! We now have 70 homes sold, with more under contract, several spec homes being built and only 15 spots left in Phase One! Our annual HOA meeting was just a few days ago and we are still thinking over all the information. The community voted a member onto the Board (a big deal, since we often have issues that need addressing and did not have any Board presence until now per the HOA agreement). The meeting was full of excellent and interesting news.

The big downer is the money situation. Banks are picky and strange about lending money as those out there in the development world know. Phase One still has unfinished business that Bob Hauser says he has a hard time finding money for, but the commercial part of Belvedere, the Station as it is being called, is a positive for lending meaning that ground is going to be broken there starting this fall. However, the county is finishing parts of Phase One because of bank note issues between the developer and the county. I can't quote everything because it seems quite technical but it seems that this is rare in the development world. Hauser said he wished he could finish it. It does sound like a strange world for developers these days. But Belvedere remains one of the most successful new developments in the county. Hard to believe we have sold so many houses since November 2010; we have nearly doubled in size and Hauser hopes to close on up to 44 more houses this year.

A wonderful new addition to the project is the Senior Center now slotted for the first commercial land lot as you enter the development. This multi-generational space looks awesome. A representative from the Senior Center came and gave us a slide show about the new facility. They are busting at the seems over in their current facility on Pepsi Place. It looks fantastic and open to the public. I couldn't imagine a better place to hang out if I was over 50! Exercise, social events, clubs, cafes, cookouts, classes of all kinds. It is a great addition to the project.

Now that we have so many people, we know that the HOA has lots of money and we want to know where it is going and what we are doing with it. Community members picked apart the budget. Much of the money is spent on Connexion and landscaping. Community members want the vacant lots better taken care of and more accountability and transparency from a busy skeleton Stonehaus crew. And rightly so!

Excited to be a member still and trying to breath life into the "get the kids off the couch" idea, Hub Knott from the Living Earth School is going to run a boys program here, and a homeschool nature based program. I invited the most awesome Rain from Shannon Farm to do a Wild Foods Talk and Walk October 2 here in Belvedere from 2 - 5 pm. You can see more on my website, belvederearts.com. Hauser is also supporting the community garden idea.

With the county soon finishing the paving, tree planting and other promised list items and the fuller complement of houses it feels like are beyond the tipping point into success. And more, Hauser reports our homes are increasing in value! All this is such good news during these times, as well as the mini baby boom here in Belvedere. I think we have at least 5 babies born or due this fall and winter. That means lots of meals made and taken over to families. I volunteer to hold the babies!

I often meet new people who say this blog really helped them learn more about Belvedere, so Bret and I will continue to write and post. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Got mud? Got tracks!

Had a great time in the back of the neighborhood Saturday - joined a class in animal tracks taught by Hub Knott of the Living Earth School. He was appreciative of the great tracking places we have here.

So inspired, I have been going out more often and here are some things I have seen:

This one was actually found by Kate as we went for an evening walk. It's a first for us:

We guessed turtle, and are pretty sure after we consulted our tracking resources. I can reallypicture a turtle's feet in these tracks, especially the back ones as they claw in semi-sideways.

Out back is a place where the dirt from excavations is put - this has many smooth sections that make for perfect tracks, especially after a rain. Here's what I saw there recently:

This was great because it so clearly shows the distinctive "chevron" found in Red Fox tracks. Hair is also clearly visible.

And nearby:

Sure looks like opossum to me - because of the way the thumb points almost behind.

Kate and I hope top start an informal tracking walk once or twice a month because it's always fun with other people.

Sesame Street

The other day the weather was nice and children and their parents were on the playground, on the sidewalks, and in the alleys, laughing, chatting and generally having fun.

I felt a familiar feeling and searched for what it was and realized that this neighborhood, on these days, reminds me of Sesame Street. And for me, that's a good feeling.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stalked by a Deer

Okay. As long as I have been walking about in nature, sitting in secret spots, spying on animals, sneaking up on them, never, to my knowledge, have I been stalked by a white tail deer. Once I came across a young family and the male deer challenged me to fight. I just stamped my feet the way he did and the family fled. This time, I just stood still and waited. I pretended to be a tree.

But the deer knew I was not a tree. That I was a threat. At first, he stomped, then he shook his tail, then he reared and bucked and snorted. I did nothing. I had gone over to the containment ponds where I sit with the geese who are nesting. They come every year. This year I hope to protect their nest from fox. I stood watching the two geese couples, one in each pond. Then I noticed this young buck. Near him were three other smaller deer. I stood and went into an energetic stance we called "primary respiration" in the field of craniosacral therapy. It is a connection to power of the natural world of which we are a part. I just stood. The deer stomped and stomped and got closer and stomped some more. It was all I could do to not laugh out loud. Eventually, all the deer ran away (but we found them later, sitting and resting though).

I loved this experience. As I was standing in primary respiration, feeling the bravery of this young deer, I heard tree frogs calling, birds singing, woodpeckers doing their mating call, and the geese? They woke up and went into the smaller pond for a dip. All this just yards from my house! Pretty fantastic.

Kick Ball on the Village Green

We chanced an evening walk before the sun went down. All four of us headed up the streets of Belvedere, counting the new houses, listening to the peepers. My daughter scooted around on her scooter. My son collected sticks and pretended to spear any possible enemies. Then it happened. We came across some Dunlorans playing kickball on the Village Green! Our pour Village Green, lumpy and rough, and there they were! Can we play?!?! We asked. Sure was the answer. Ahhhh. Childhood. This was perfect. Come back, we pleaded, come back and play! Belvedere is committed to "geting kids off the couch" and reliving the childhoods we had. Thank you Dunlorans. Come on up any time!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Belvedere and Nature Connection

Okay, I am gearing up now. I think I had given up for a while, trying to live into, lean into, love into Belvedere's potential. Belvedere has the potential for being a shining beacon here in the US for sustainable community development. What attracted me to it was the message that it will be designed to "get kids of the couch" and out into the natural world, and that it is designed with the more-than-human world in mind.

In my talks with developer Bob Hauser, he has asked, what exactly is my responsibility as a developer to fulfill this potential?, and he has a good point. As a builder, how can he "get kids of the couch?" At best, it is building the trails, cleaning up the land, making the play space. We invited landscape designer Robin Moore in to have a look, make some suggestions. It was awesome . . . only I could not get Bob to follow up. Call the landscape architect Robin suggested, I said. No response. I believe shining star Chris Counts has moved on. Frank Stoner of Stonehaus has moved on, too. Sniff. Anyway . . . .

I do intend to help Bob Hauser, if he will let me. There are other residents of of Belvedere who want to live the idea of it, of people and nature connection. Perhaps I should create a checklist for us to look at. My first intervention has been around the idea of Festivals. We had our first Fall Festival on the village green in October. Now we are planning a Spring Fling, or spring festival. I would like to create a way to welcome folks, all these new families, wow! Peter Primiani of the HOA (home owner's association) has told me we a now 50 families! And those houses keep going up.

I believe we are also building bird houses this spring. Right Bob? Maybe we can do that at the Spring Festival. And we are working with Bob on the landscaping.

I would like to create a nature study group in Belvedere using a journaling and sit in nature method called Kamana. Also, I would like to create an afterschool club that is all about play in nature. Please do this with me Belvedere! Let's fill in the blanks around what is possible for people in this modern age!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

15 SOLD Signs, Go Belvedere!

Wow! Driving around today Eleanor and I counted 15 SOLD signs, three lots staked out for beginning construction, 3 houses in the middle of construction. Go Belvedere! What a big difference from last and most especially the year before that. Three years ago almost to the day we moved to Charlottesville and Belvedere was a road to flat red dirt. Amazing. Catch the Belvedere excitement and come to the Love Belvedere party on February 17. All the models will be offering drinks and food in the evening. See http://www.belvedereneighborhood.com.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Realtor Update

Enjoy this Blog Post by Piedmont Realtor Greg Slater:

I have been involved with Belvedere since working from a tent on Rio Road prior to the roads being paved or any homes being started. I’ve been a huge fan of the overall concept from the beginning. New urbanist concepts and a commitment to green building practices are very interesting to me and relevant to the market. I was impressed immediately in 2008 by the number of people I met who thought the concept was great, but weren’t in a position to move. I knew all along and have shared many times that I think Belvedere’s success is only matter of time. Here’s why:

  1. Location. Its in the urban ring. Right now, there are really no new home communities as centrally located to all things Albemarle and Charlottesville as Belvedere. The people I am meeting interested in Belvedere now are making a lifestyle decision to give up the larger, rural lot in favor of a location that saves them time and fits their current lifestyle and the quicker pace we all seem to be living these days.
  2. Smaller lots and higher density. Its true, many visit Belvedere and are immediately discouraged by the size of the lots. Its definitely not for everyone. However, many are looking for less maintenance in their lives and maybe, more importantly, community. I’ve learned that the deisgn of a community has a direct impact on the relationships that are formed among the residents. People are choosing Belvedere because they want to know their neighbors and want to interact with them. I’ve never seen a community of new homeowners come together faster than what I have seen at Belvedere.
  3. Energy Efficiency. The green building trends we hear so much about are more than just trends. Its a shift in building science that is here to stay. Better practices in home building are leading to better indoor air quality, lower utility expenses, and more comfortable homes. Every home at Belvedere is Earthcraft certified. Stonehaus Development should be commended for this.
  4. Home Design. Another side effect of the economic downtown is a shift in consumer demand. Huge houses are out, and smaller, better designed homes are in. Add in zoning that allows homeowners to earn income with legal residences or businesses over their garage, and you have a recipe for success.
  5. Walking Trails. People still want to get outside and exercise. This is an exceptional component, not to mention the future with SOCA and more recreational space.

Watching what has occurred in 2010 at Belvedere, I’m starting to get the feeling the time for Belvedere has arrived. With 31 homes put under contract in 2010, the answer may be obvious. The last 60 days of 2010 saw 12 contracts and the activity hasn’t slowed since. There are now just 33 available detached home sites in Phase 1 remaining. The new apartment complex (The Reserve at Belvedere) is set to break ground next month. The conversation regarding the town center makes it seem like its time may really be here as well, with unofficial estimates for a late 2011 ground breaking.

There are now 5 builders actively marketing and selling homes in Belvedere:

  1. Piedmont Realty and Construction
  2. Stonehaus Residential
  3. Gibson Homes
  4. Southern Development Homes
  5. Eagle Construction of Virginia

Home prices start in the $200′s and there is a variety of home styles and types available. There are currently 7 detached “spec” homes for sale. Later this spring, Piedmont will be offering 11 newly developed townhome sites on the Village Green. If you are in the market for a towhome in 2011 and appreciate the concept of Belvedere, these may be the best opportunity of the year.

If you are interested in Belvedere and the prospect of building a new home, I would welcome the opportunity to share my experience and insight to your process to determine if Belvedere is right for you, and if so, how to choose the right builder fit for your budget, timeline, and needs.

See more about Greg here: