All about life at the grow community in Bainbridge Washington and the surrounding community.

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!

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s been another bounteous year at Grow Community, four vibrant seasons of progress and positive change.

Our pace-setting solar program earned recognition in the national press, as we used a clever combination of tax credits, incentives and pricing to put energy-producing arrays on three different flavors of multifamily homes in the Grove neighborhood – condominiums, townhomes and apartments. Washington’s largest planned-solar community – that’s us! – continues to set an example for renewable energy development nationwide.

French television featured Grow Community on its globe-trotting Echo-Logis program, highlighting the greenest, most forward-thinking communities around the world. Even if you don’t speak French, you can still enjoy the half-hour program and the stunning videography of our neighborhoods and our island.

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey with pumpkins and sunflowers on wooden table

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey with pumpkins and sunflowers on wooden table

Thinking globally and acting locally, we donated cedar construction waste to local grade school students to fashion “Mason Bee House Kits” for island bees. It was Grow Community’s latest contribution to the Pollinator Improvement Plan, an island-wide effort to bolster living and foraging space for bees, birds and other pollinators that are the linchpins of a healthy ecosystem.

And we welcomed many new neighbors, as the Salal and Juniper buildings, the Elan townhomes and Woodland homes were wrapped up and presented to eager buyers. Greetings!

As we pause together for a day of gratitude, we’re grateful for the wealth of enthusiasm, support and neighborliness we get from each of you throughout the year. At this special time, we are pleased to say:

Thanks-Growing!

Autumn sunshine, robust pumpkins and fresh-pressed apple cider

The Grow Community Harvest Fest was great fun for residents on a recent October weekend. As kids carved their Halloween jack-o-lanterns, adults took turns peeling fresh Washington apples and running them through an old-fashioned press to yield many jugs of sweet, golden goodness. Thank you to all who attended this great neighborhood celebration!

A 5 Minute Lifestyle

Everything your family needs for a healthy, happy lifestyle is within easy distance of Grow Community. Local merchants and grocers, the library, fine cafes and coffee shops, theaters and museums, parks, health clinics and schools … you can reach it all without ever getting behind the wheel.

We call it the “5-minute lifestyle,” and it’s just one of the features that makes Grow such an attractive choice for homebuyers seeking a simpler, more mindful way of living.

You’ll be amazed by all that’s waiting for you, just beyond your doorstep.
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Accessibility, ‘aging in place’ guide Grow Community design

The most comfortable retirement home is your own home.

On this point, older Americans widely agree: three-quarters surveyed say their number one goal is to stay in their own home as long as possible, in the familiar environment of connections, routines, heirlooms, memories, and friendships.

Independent living is a primary concern for both the older generation and their adult children, studies show.

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“Aging in place” has become the mantra for “baby boomers” and those who follow, describing a long-term goal once aspirational and now, at Grow Community, quite reachable.

“From a real estate perspective, we are seeing that boomers are a group that expect sustainability, community, and simplicity and wish to live those values,” says Greg Lotakis, Grow Community development manager. “I believe that many of our buyers want to ‘live intentionally in a community,’ and it seems they are choosing to invest in a place where they can enjoy aging in place while living intentionally.”

Maintaining a healthy generational mix is a foundational goal of the Grow project.

Helping residents age in place — and keeping older homeowners an active, vital part of the social blend — guides the layout and amenities. Long-term accessibility is being built into new Grove and Park neighborhoods from the ground up.

That starts with single-level living in most units, keeping bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms and utility spaces united on a single floor. Residents will have no cumbersome trips up and down stairs through the day.

On the outside, elevators connect underground parking areas with the entryways of each home.

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Asani LLC, hired to develop Grow Community, worked to provide as much of the accessibility options into the design as possible.  Features like Walk-in showers large enough for seating, open floor plans with minimal hallways, and taller comfort toilets are standard design elements at Grow Community.  These can be enjoyed at any age and have been identified as key to independent living.

Grow Community is in the vanguard among residential projects bringing innovative strategies for independent living to market.

Situated in the heart of Winslow town center, Grow homes are close to grocers, restaurants, merchants and professional services, eliminating the need for regular automobile use.

A community center will allow neighborhood activities, while being flexible enough to fit the communities own programming desires.  The eight-acre grounds boast spacious community gardens and gathering places.

Together these amenities fulfill goals identified by Congress in 2006 with reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which urged locally based initiatives to meet aging citizens’ needs including services, social opportunities and recreation.

“It’s all part of our goal to create an intergenerational community, which has been our thinking from the beginning,” Lotakis says.

Aging in place also makes sense for seniors for whom long-term financial independence is a paramount concern.

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The average cost of residence in an assisted living facility, for one bedroom and single occupancy, is approaching $40,000 per year, the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons reports – a prohibitive amount for fixed-income seniors, who have already spent years building up equity in their own home.

The multigenerational family under one roof is another American trend.

A significant number of older residents have had a grown son or daughter, often with children of their own, move back in. In these families, the younger generations themselves become a resource for aging in place – not an option if their elders have moved into retirement homes or assisted living facilities.

With spacious two- and three-bedroom floor plans, Grow Community’s new Grove and Park neighborhoods anticipate these needs for a range of homebuyers, beginning with those in middle age who are looking to downsize and settle in for the long term.

For those already in their senior years, Grow Community offers some very good reasons to move just one more time.

 

Grow ‘hits the Easy button’ for sustainability

It takes a lot of work to make sustainability simple.

But making the choice of a low-impact lifestyle easy for buyers was the goal at Grow Community from the very start.

In an article titled “We Only Have One Planet,” Reserve Magazine explores the history of Washington’s largest planned solar community, and the thoughtful features that have earned it the prestigious One Planet Living certification.

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“We wanted to hit the Easy button for people,” Asani President Greg Lotakis tells the magazine, “so they could get in and just focus on the things we can’t control, which are creating community, enjoying community and enjoying each other.”

Leading elements of Grow’s high-performing homes include rooftop solar arrays, airtight construction and insulation, and nontoxic construction materials, among other low-impact features. Grow homes use 30 to 40 percent less water than a typical Pacific Northwest home, the magazine notes.

It all adds up to a formula for sustainable, intergenerational living. Grow does the hard work, so residents can get on with the fun stuff: living.

“This idea that we can start to create places where generations share space, where elders pass along wisdom, where you have children who are being looked after by friends or grandparents and where young couples or single folks get a chance to live in a community where there’s a mix of support — to us, it’s a recipe for success in the future,” Greg says.

Read the whole story online here.

French TV Feature – A quest for the greenest residential developments

French TV came to town last summer looking for the greenest residential developments in the USA, and their quest led them straight to Grow Community.

Over the course of four busy days, Echo-Logis program host Anthony DaSilva and his crew interviewed Grow residents and the folks from our project developer Asani.

Watch the Echo-Logis half-hour feature here.

Even if you don’t speak French – there are no subtitles, Hélas! – the videography of Grow Community and our Bainbridge/Seattle land-and-seascapes is simply stunning. The Echo-Logis crew made extensive use of aerial photography with a small drone, and the footage is well worth seeing – whether or not you live at Grow, you’ll be reminded why you want to live here.

Thanks again to Anthony and his very talented crew for visiting Bainbridge Island and taking the Grow Community story to the globe. We know your storytelling will inform and inspire!