OK, let's get past the name of this otherwise-cool housing development: Edwards Addition, which sounds like a boring afterthought, is anything but.
Today my wife and I met the developer, Eric Olsen, at the Mid-Valley Home Show (Americraft Building, State Fairgrounds, today through Sunday).
We'd just started to browse the show when I heard "Brian and Laurel!" Turning toward the Olsen Design and Development booth, which likely we would have walked right past otherwise, Molly Beecroft greeted us cheerily.
Molly is a former neighbor, and current realtor, who works with Eric. Her charm and my desire for a free gift soon had me filling out cards which likely will guarantee that I'll be on the Olsen Development mail/email list forever, or for the rest of my life, whichever comes first.
And you know... I don't mind.
Because Laurel and I ended up becoming genuinely enthusiastic about what Eric and his team have wrought in Monmouth. I knew next to nothing about Edwards Addition before today. Now I hope Olsen Development will bring similar housing to Salem, a distinct possibility according to Eric.
We like new old-style houses. Front porches, cars tucked in back, on tree-lined streets, modern inside with some "green" features. This is the Edwards Addition Flex House, an interesting concept for people who, well, want flexibility in their residence.
Seems reasonable at $299,000. Sq Ft: 2828 Bedrooms: 4 Baths: 3.5
Currently Laurel and I aren't interested in giving up our rural non-easy-care home on ten acres, which I described to Eric as "a place that simultaneously drives us crazy and makes us really happy." But almost certainly that day will come.
Like lots of people in their 60's, we abhor the idea of growing old with bingo, bridge, and group visits to the mall. Yet the prospect of remaining enslaved to never-ending blackberry/poison oak control, yard maintenance, well water hassles, fallen tree chainsawing, and the like doesn't thrill us either.
When "that day" arrives, we'll be looking for a community like Edwards Addition (except with a cooler name, please).
It's hard to put into words why we were so attracted to Eric's development style after talking with him and browsing around his web sites. I guess what struck me the most was his mention, after we quizzed him about Green building practices, that sustainability involves much more than just the "built environment."
Absolutely. We're looking for a sense of community when we move.
A place with people like us. Not exactly like us; that'd be boring. But people who like to sit on their porches and say "hi" to their neighbors, get involved in their neighborhood association, socialize together, help each other, be more than just barely recognizable "they're the ones who live three houses down."
I like how the Master Plan page on the Edwards Addition web site ends with:
Probably most exciting are the things you can’t master plan, but grow out of a diversity of people and concern for the built environment. Book clubs, community gardens, holiday open houses and a Halloween parade are a few things we could have never designed, but organically formed from the desire to become a neighborhood beyond sticks and mortar.
Through the grace of Great God Google I came across a newspaper story about Eric Olsen and his wife, Eve. Starts out with:
Eric and Eve Olsen envision apple and pear trees fronting Martin Way in the Edwards Addition neighborhood in South Monmouth.
To the east is where potatoes, pumpkins and tomatoes might go -- or maybe something else. They haven't decided yet.
There would surely be an herb and salad garden ... and plots for carrots, beets and cabbage. If city ordinances allow it, there might be a place for a small free-range area for chickens.
Nice. Here they are in an acre of wheat they planted. Now the enterprise has evolved into a Village Farm maintained by Edwards Addition residents, complete with Facebook page (of course).
Laurel and I told Eric that he should bring his development philosophy to Salem. We need a mixed use, sustainable community like Edwards Addition here.
Yes, Pringle Creek Community is great. But more is better, and Pringle Creek (I hate to say this, but its true) is too cutting-edge Green to appeal to a large portion of the Salem market. We aren't Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, or Ashland -- though I sure wish Salem had a vibe a lot closer to those more cutting-edge cities.
But, hey, if Monmouth can embrace Edwards Addition, potentially 470 homes on 88 acres, it sure seems like Salem can do the same with a similar sort of development.
Perusing the most recent quarterly Olsen Design and Development newsletter, I read a piece by Eric that showed his philosophically thoughtful side. "Awake at the Wheel" talked about the lessons of the Challenger space shuttle disaster, caused by improperly designed O-rings
To think of those O-rings and how that system failed is to be reminded of how haunting the results of inattention can be. We all are entrenched in the routines of many communities — at home, at work and at play. For me, as part of a creative company dedicated to improving the built environment, the big challenge is to know when the status quo should be left to slumber, and when it could use a good wake up call.
Believe me, Eric, Salem shouldn't be left to slumber. This city already is overly deserving of its nickname, So-Lame. I hope you ride into town on your developer horse and shake things up.
One request, Eric: as I mentioned to you today, I'm into longboard land paddling. That's why I was pleased to hear that Edwards Addition has nicely flat streets. Sweet! Or as we skateboarders say, Sick!
So make sure that, if you ever build here in Salem, the CC&Rs have a section on skateboarding. They need to say "highly encouraged." Especially for those over 60. Like I said, us aging baby boomers are a different breed of retired folks.