At Grow, we believe that what we do now affects future generations, so we’re trying to build a community that respects the resource and cultural needs of future generations. In this category we will be spotlighting forward thinking technologies and concepts being utilized at Grow, and in the wider sustainable development community.

We’re leading the nation in Green Power

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently honored the City of Bainbridge Island with its Green Power of the Year Award – and Grow Community helped earn the honor.

In his report to the community, City Manager Doug Schulze cited Grow Community’s leadership.

“Adjacent to one of Bainbridge’s three neighborhood centers is Grow Community, one of the first North American communities built on the One Planet principles,” Schulze writes. “These all-electric homes have the option of installing enough PV to meet almost all of their homes’ energy demands. The homes, available for sale or rent, are populated as quickly as they are built.”

Kudos to Bainbridge Island for this great national award! Read the City Manager’s report on our national leadership in Green Power below.

How far we have grown.

With just three buildings to go, and construction paused for the winter, let’s pause ourselves to appreciate how far Grow Community has come.

This photo puts it all in perspective – three distinctive neighborhoods, tasteful, energy-efficient homes clustered around shared green spaces, a new community center, and row upon row (upon row!) of solar panels, soaking up the sun to help power Washington’s largest planned solar community.

What a great community to be a part of! And what a great vantage to take it all in.

Photo courtesy of Kelvin Hughes

Grow settling in for winter hibernation – An October Construction & Sales Update

We have reached an important milestone in our project. After six years, we have reduced our site work to a single building pad at the south end of the Park neighborhood, having reshaped eight acres of what is now Grow Community. We continue to see more solar go up, garden beds filled, and have enjoyed seeing new neighbors join our community and make long-lasting friendships.

Now that the Lilac and Sage are done, and the Community Center is nearing completion, we plan to pause construction for the winter. This will include additional landscaping, ramps/walks to connect our path through the entire project, and stabilization of the area that will become the Trillium and Meadow Homes.

This winter “quiet time” will allow new residents to move in, let the site be still for several months – and we’ll be ready and rested to begin final completion of work in spring 2018.

October Construction update

As we wind down work for the year, our teams are checking off minor “punch list” items throughout the Park neighborhood. All tasks in occupied and for-sale units should be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Site grading is essentially complete, with stairs and ramps now shaped in the southeast corner of the grounds and concrete work set for next week. Landscaping in that area will follow – we are on schedule to beat the rain and tidy up the site for winter.

The big news is the imminent opening of our new Community Center – and does it look great! The 17-panel solar array went up on the center’s bike shelter this week, great news for sustainable use. We have a few minor items left to install, from drinking fountains to appliances, barn doors and some trim. We’ve applied to the city for building occupancy, and hope to have approval in the next few weeks.

Then we hope to see you all at the center for our annual Harvest Fest, Oct. 21!

And we still have room for you!

Grow Community still has great opportunities for buyers, starting with the Tsuga building – three units are still available, all 2-bedroom homes.

In the Lilac townhomes, 2- and 3-bedroom homes each with a generous 300-sf of private outdoor space are available. These are the only 3-bedroom units left at Grow and offer 1,600-sf of comfortable, environmentally friendly living.

Finally, we have view units available on the third floor of the Sage. Enjoy peek-a-boo views of Eagle Harbor and the Olympics. These 2-bedroom homes include large masters and generous closet space.

Contact our sales team a get a personal tour today!

New solar array powers community center

Grow Community boosted its standing as Washington state’s largest planned solar community this week with another new photovoltaic array – this time, for the new community center.

A 17-module, 5.1-kilowatt array went up atop the bike shelter behind the community building, centerpiece of the Park neighborhood.

The south-facing array takes advantage of excellent solar exposure through the day, turning the bike shelter roof into productive solar garden to help power activities at the community center.

The system also supports the local solar industry, using certified Made In Washington solar panels by iTek Energy of Bellingham.

Installation is by A&R Solar of Seattle, who’ve completed many of the residential arrays found throughout Grow’s three solar-powered neighborhoods.

Grow Community Earns Built Green Project of the Year

And the plaudits keep rolling in: Grow Community earned the Built Green Project of the Year award at the annual Built Green Conference in Seattle recently.

The prestigious award honors excellence in environmentally friendly residential construction in the Puget Sound region, as judged by peers in the construction industry.

“The award was unexpected, and we are deeply honored to earn it considering the unbelievable work our peers have accomplished in 2017,” says Greg Lotakis, Grow’s project manager. “Builders across our region are really pushing the envelope for sustainability, using the Built Green standards as their benchmark to serve both homebuyers and the long-term interests of the planet.”

The Grow team thanked the Built Green program, the Grow design and construction teams, and our residents – all of whom have believed in possibility and made Grow Community a reality.

The Built Green program is sponsored by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, in partnership with other Washington agencies to set standards of excellence that make a significant impact on housing, health and the environment and are readily “do-able” today.

For more information on the program see www.builtgreen.net.

Grow memories cross the generations

Jerry Grow left a quieter, simpler Bainbridge Island in as a youngster in 1955.

But his memories conjure images that would be familiar to generations of islanders before and since: attending services at the Congregational Church downtown, marching in the Fourth of July parade, learning to fish from a boat his great-uncle Fred kept on Eagle Harbor.

The latter experiences have proved useful into Grow’s later years, giving him “sea legs” for his travels in retirement.

“My great-uncle would take great delight in running the boat back and forth across the wake behind the ferries, to see if he could get me seasick,” Jerry recalls. “I thank him for that now, because I do a lot of cruising and I never have any problem with seasickness.”

A direct descendent of bonafied island pioneer family, Grow returned to Bainbridge in July as an honored guest at the “Sharing Our History” reception in Grow Community’s new neighborhood hall.

The evening reunited former residents of the old Government Way housing, dignitaries from the American Legion and island’s Japanese American community, and local historians for reminiscence and reflection.

 

Visitors shared their memories of the berry fields and orchards that once rolled down the hillside toward the harbor, the vibrant scene at the Japanese community hall nearby, and the many families, faces and touchstones of bygone Bainbridge.

While Grow Community’s new neighborhood hall is still under construction, the evening was a chance to unveil colorful display boards that trace area history – from millennia of Native American habitation, through pioneer settlement, to post-war military housing, and into the present – that will be on permanent display inside.

Among the honored guests was Jerry Grow, whose great-grandfather Ambrose homesteaded north of Eagle Harbor in the 1880s. Along with fellow pioneer Riley Hoskinson, Ambrose Grow is credited as one of the founders of the town of Winslow and donated land for the first school.

Jerry Grow’s parents still held 20 acres on the northwest corner of today’s Wyatt Way and Grow Avenue into the 1950s, while his grandfather Walter owned the southeast corner where Grow Community is now being built. His great-uncle Fred resided farther down by the harbor.

The family moved off the island in 1955 when Jerry was 8. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1965, trained in electronics school and went on to maintain fighter jets.

After leaving the service, he parlayed his training into a career in the nascent computer industry repairing big IBM mainframes. As computers got smaller, he went back to school for certification as a network engineer, and worked for many years for the City of Seattle.

He and his family lived up on the Sammamish plateau, another community that was about to be touched by dramatic change.

“At the time we bought, it was still unincorporated King County,” he says. “Then everybody decided it was the place to be, and it really exploded up there.”

Grow retired to Long Beach on the Washington coast in 2005.

He has only been back to Bainbridge a handful of times through the years – once when his father was grand marshal of a centennial parade, again in the 1980s to show his own son the island community their Grow ancestors helped found.

The occasional visits marked a changing island – the loss of the family farmhouse and barn from the old Grow property, the incremental appearance of new homes and neighborhoods as the town his ancestors helped found stretched ever north and west.

He only learned of Grow Community this past February, quite by chance, when he met a couple from Bainbridge while on a cruise to Hawaii. He researched the new planned-solar community on the web and contacted developers Asani out of curiosity, leading to his recent visit.

“We’re so grateful Jerry reached out to us,” says Greg Lotakis, Grow Community project manager. “We’re committed to honoring the history of the land and those who’ve lived here through so many generations. Being able to bring Jerry here to share his stories adds to that continuity, helps connect more fully and vividly with the past.”

While others in the Grow clan could not attend the Sharing Our History event, Jerry Grow has kept them apprised that not only does a Bainbridge street still bear their name, but now a whole neighborhood.

“They’re pleased, and quite surprised,” he said.

Homecoming and history sharing in Grow’s new community center

Old friends and new turned out as Grow Community celebrated our history at a community potluck yesterday evening. Venue was Grow’s new community center – only half finished, but still a great setting for this homecoming that crossed the generations.

Honored guest was Jerry Grow, great-grandson of island pioneer Ambrose Grow, who came up from Long Beach for the occasion. Former residents of the old Government Way military housing project also shared their stories, as did veterans from the Colin Hyde Post of the American Legion with neighborhood ties. What a great evening it was!

Thank you to everyone who came to enjoy an evening of fellowship and honor our neighborhood history.

 

A real sense of “neighborliness” in a community designed to foster closeness, connection and cooperation.

Amelia Parker had been following the work of Bioregional and its One Planet Living initiative for years, since the development of London’s famous BedZED zero-carbon community in 2002.

When she learned that there was another One Planet Community just a few miles away on Bainbridge Island – she was living in Bellevue at the time – she decided to visit and see environmentally friendly development firsthand.

She and her spouse found Grow Community. After speaking with residents, they made their move – to the Juniper building in the new Grove neighborhood.

It’s a real turn toward sustainability from her last home, a 1912 Craftsman bungalow. It was beautiful and twice the size of her current home, she says, but trying to modernize and maintain it was exhausting and expensive.

“It’s lovely to be in a place where things simply work,” Amelia says of Grow Community, “ and if they don’t, maintenance is on it quickly, where good design minimizes utility bills – large, well-insulated windows make the space feel expansive and reduces the need for lighting – and makes caring for the space simple, so that time can be spent on other things.”

At Grow, she has found a simpler lifestyle, one that de-emphasizes the need for a car, with easy connections to local shops and merchants, and even travel hubs like the ferry system and regional rail.

“For the most part, I can walk to anything I need, including the ferry terminal,” she says. “My car is coming up on 193,000 miles, and I drive so little that I’m in no hurry to replace it. My spouse occasionally needs to travel to Vancouver for business meetings: before, he would have to drive to Everett to catch a train. Now he takes the ferry across and walks to King Street Station. Not having to deal with traffic does a great deal for our mental health!”

She also finds a real sense of “neighborliness” in a community designed to foster closeness, connection and cooperation.

“Last weekend I was out at the observatory with my next-door neighbors, after a thank-you dinner for looking after their cat while they were on holiday,” she says. “We will text one another: ‘I’m going to Silverdale, do you need anything?’ ‘I’ve got too much lettuce: can I bring you some?’”

She adds: “Seeing people from the yoga studio means stopping and chatting in the aisles of the grocery store. I lived in my previous home for 13 years and really didn’t have that sort of relationship with my neighbours; I’ve been here almost 18 months, and it’s very different.”

Does she recommend Grow Community?

“Yes, absolutely.”

 

Sharing our History + Celebrating our New Community Center

Grow celebrates the progress on our new Community Center with daylong events on Thursday, July 20.

We will be hosting lunch for the construction team, followed by an evening potluck and sharing of the Grow Community site history through many generations. Special guests will share family and neighborhood stories, including a visiting descendent of the pioneer Grow family.  This event will focus on history – no tours of the center or its features will take place, but see our schedule of upcoming events for future opportunities.

11.30am-1pm – Construction Worker Lunch
1pm-5pm – Feel free to walk by and see progress
6pm to 8pm – History Sharing and Potluck

LOCATION: 395 Ambrose Street, in the Park at Grow Community

 


UPCOMING EVENTS:

August (DATE TBD) – Neighborhood meeting on Community Center operations: This discussion will focus on answering questions about the center, understanding its availability, use and operating budget, and hopefully celebrating the certificate of occupancy!

September 14th – Community meeting on Emergency Preparedness. Grow residents are invited to a potluck dinner and discussion of community emergency preparedness. Guest speaker will be Scott James, author of “Prepared Neighborhoods” and Bainbridge Island resident

October (DATE TBD) – Community Harvest & Solar for the Community Center Celebration. Join us for a celebration of the harvest season, pumpkin carving, cider pressing, and official commissioning of the Community Center’s rooftop solar array!

Urban Land group visits Grow

The prestigious Urban Land Institute held its Spring Conference in Seattle in early May, and Grow Community was both hot topic and host.

Grow welcomed thought-leaders in spheres ranging from development to investment, planning and design, as they came to Bainbridge Island for site visits throughout the conference.

Grow has been part of the ULI conversation since the project began, our community being a case study for creating healthy places, promoting intergenerational living, and integrating sustainability at scale.

Discussion threads running through the week included:

Creating a legacy. Pooran Desai, founder of the organizations BioRegional, which established the One Planet Living Principles, described effort at Grow as a legacy – both for the region, and in changing the conversation around the way we develop future communities. While the project has had many twists and turns, its consistency around creating a place for all ages to be comfortable and live in a more sustainable way is a profound achievement.

Intergenerational living. Visitors from the ULI appreciated Grow’s commitment to developing a community with many varied home types, to give people at every stage of life a comfortable place to live. It marks a change from development patterns often seen in the United States, where we tend to segregate generations, versus other communities around the world that embrace keeping mixed generations together.

Sustainability. Many of the ULI visitors came from places where a push for sustainability is just beginning, compared to the Seattle region where it is becoming the norm. Visitors were impressed by the range of areas where Grow challenged the norm: energy, materials, solar, and open space. Built Green standards allowed us to use a local certification program and consider our efforts from a neighborhood level, integrating our sustainability goals through One Planet Living. Grow gave visitors a model they can follow and incorporate into their own communities.

The Grow Community development team and investors thank residents for continuing to allow for guests like ULI to visit. These visits and conversations plant the seeds for other communities to come. They also provide the inspiration for others to take on the challenges of sustainable growth and living – allowing others to take what we have learned here, and spread the best of what we have for our One Planet.