Cynthia Chin-Lee

 A New Kind of Neighborhood: Cohousing

Cynthia Chin-Lee

May 19, 2013

Cynthia Chin-Lee
Cynthia Chin-Lee

Cynthia Chin-Lee, associate member of Mountain View Cohousing Community, will lead a panel on cohousing communities near Palo Alto.  She will pose questions to panelists from two cohousing communities near Palo Alto.

Her panel will include: Raines Cohen, PatZy Boomer, Emily Rosen and Lee Daniel Erman.

Background of Speakers:

Cynthia Chin-Lee

Cynthia is a children’s book author and publications manager at Oracle.   She spoke to the Humanist Community last year about her children’s book, “Operation Marriage,” which won a Moonbeam award for compassion. Based on a true story, the book shows marriage equality from a child’s point of view.

For more information on Cynthia’s books see:
See the video of her latest children’s book at:


Cynthia Chin-Lee, Raines Cohen, PatZy Boomer, Emily Rosen, Lee Erman
Cynthia Chin-Lee, Raines Cohen, PatZy Boomer, Emily Rosen, Lee Erman

Raines Cohen

Raines is a community organizer, co-founding and running Cohousing California network of regional umbrella groups, with over 2100 members in East Bay Cohousing alone. For the past decade, he and his wife and business partner Betsy Morris have lived at Berkeley Cohousing; he was an initial member-developer and homeowner for the first three years of Swan’s Market Cohousing in Oakland. He has served on the national nonprofit Cohousing Association and Fellowship for Intentional Community boards, and the Bay Area Community Land Trust; he now is on the Cohouseholding national advisory board, helping people find shared-living solutions. Raines works as a Cohousing Coach and has visited over 100 established cohousing neighborhoods and advised many, is Associate Producer of the shared-living documentary Within Reach, and author of the Aging in Community chapter in the book Audacious Aging.

By the time of the talk, I may be a Certified Senior Advisor as well – wish me luck!


PatZy Boomer
Mountain View Cohousing Community

PatZy grew up in Palo Alto, next door to her husband Derk. They have three daughters, two grandchildren (with another on the way) and a holy terror of a Pomeranian named Bugs. They have enjoyed living in Mountain View for 15 years.

She earned a B.A. in Human Biology at Stanford and her career path has been anything but a straight line since. Following graduation, she spent five years working in restaurants in national parks all over the U.S. After that, she went into marketing for restaurants with Spectrum Foods of San Francisco and was later business manager of the Lark Creek Inn in Marin.

PatZy then decided she was done with Restaurants Forever, and embarked on a career in commercial interior design and space planning. 17 years later (a year and a half ago) she decided it was once again time to re-pot and commenced taking classes in the gerontology program at Foothill College.  She also serves on the board of the California Council on Gerontology and Geriatrics.

She has no idea what she will do with this interest but retiring to 30 years of golf, which she does not play, is not in the least appealing.

She loves to travel and hits the road as often as she can. She adores lakes, rivers, and mountains, and has camped every summer for the last 20 years at her “sanity place” McCall, Idaho.

She joined MVCC in mid-2010. Patzy fondly remembers the camaraderie and sense of community from her days working in the national parks, which is one of the reasons she is looking forward to cohousing. She finds the suburbs to be a less than welcoming environment where neighbors are seldom seen and there are few interesting walking destinations. After watching her mother’s slow slide into Alzheimer’s after she stopped driving, PatZy believes that staying socially engaged and physically active are the keys to healthy aging. Rather than moving to any of the local “retirement communities” where a far-away corporate entity makes all the decisions, she is looking forward to being engaged on a grass roots level with people she respects and knows well.


Emily Rosen

Emily Rosen, a certified massage therapist and an enthusiastic member of Greenwave, a small diverse group of 15 adults and kids who live on an acre of land in East Palo Alto.  She has lived at Geenwave for 3 years.

Emily Rosen has a background of living in small town communities (Sonoma County, and in Washington State), and she has also lived in several intentional communities, including the Ananda Community in Nevada City.

College training in liberal arts has been more for personal interest than a career path.  She worked early on as an apprentice carpenter, a cook and manager of 2 small restaurants, a stint as overall dairy hand, and several other bucolic endeavors.

Emily has more recently had a private body therapy practice in the Palo Alto area for 20 plus years.

Her choices have leaned toward a hands-on, self-employed, personally involving and low key lifestyle.  Emily has a great appreciation for natural beauty and wild places, growing things, and sharing her life with others.  Living simply is a value she embraces, and she has ample experience of “living off the grid”.  Her next pursuit will be learning to build cob and earthen landscape and garden structures.

Living in community has been a natural choice for mutual support, fun, and resource sharing.   Community has also allowed Emily the freedom to indulge her hermit tendencies. A good balance.

For more info, see: .


Lee Daniel Erman
Mountain View Cohousing Community

Lee Daniel Erman is a hospital-based massage therapist and former computer scientist.  He and his wife have been intensively involved in creating the Mountain View Cohousing Community since 2009 and are eagerly anticipating moving in at its completion in 2014. For more info, see: .

Although born and raised in Chicago, Lee has spent most of his adult life in California. With a PhD from Stanford, he had a 30-year career in computer science academia and industrial research from 1970 to 2000. Starting in 1992, his career shifted to bodywork and massage therapy, where he now works primarily with hospitalized patients in acute conditions. Lee’s interests include how compassionate touch can enhance the health of the individual and society, the use of technology to promote human interactions, and environmental issues and climate change.

Lee and his wife Esther have been together since 1994. Lee has two adult sons from a previous marriage and two grandchildren in England from Esther’s progeny. Lee and Esther joined MVCC in 2009 and have been heavily involved in its intense and extensive development process, including designing the physical entity, working the legal and regulatory issues, growing the membership, and evolving the values and rules for living in our community. Although we’ve only just broken ground and won’t be living together until mid-2014, this process has already forged us into a community.

Part of Lee’s cohousing vision: I see MVCC as a supportive, caring, and vital community – a kind of self-created, highly functional extended family – for the next stages of our lives. Hopefully these will be active and healthy years, but the community will be there for us even if we hit bumps along that road.

I also want MVCC to be a living experiment in intentional community, exploring a number of directions. One of these is how a community can live very lightly on the earth and simultaneously thrive greatly, with no sense of deprivation. Another direction is using technology to enhance the human aspects of community. I would also like MVCC to be a model for others in these and other areas, and a living legacy for future generations.

Humanist Community Forum (2013-05-19) – A New Kind of Neighborhood: Cohousing from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.



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