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Urban Living in…downtown Junction?

There has been a lot of community and business leader interest in the revitalization of downtown Junction. And one of the ideas being floated is that of converting old buildings to a mixed use purpose. See the article link below about the old post office in downtown Dallas now being used as apartments and lofts.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/11/03/people-call-downtown-dallas-post-office-home/

You’ve heard the line “Everything old is new again” no doubt and it seems as if a trend to urban living is taking hold throughout our nation. This trend has been more evident in large cities such as Dallas, San Francisco and New York City, but is beginning to show up in smaller towns as well.

Traditionally in the last half century, many people in the United States have moved to suburban housing to rear children and enjoy life, but this was not always the case. Immigrants to the East Coast and westward originally set up shops with housing in the same units in order to be close to their businesses and neighbors.  This concept lost favor over the years as people became more financially successful and longed for open yards, recreation and separate single family houses.

With high fuel costs impacting commuting from home to job and more ‘empty-nesters’ feeling isolated in big suburban houses, a groundswell of interest in a walkable community atmosphere is emerging.

We in Junction have the perfect opportunity to expand this concept. First, the town is rather small and easy to navigate. We have two rivers and plenty of recreation opportunities including kayaking (the fastest growing sport in America), fishing, hunting, birding, hiking, camping and much more.

Using our existing structures in a new way is not only smart, it is eminently do-able. There have been a number of meetings recently with business owners, citizens and community leaders to explore ways to create a vibrant atmosphere with goods and services and great people interaction. We invite your ideas and solicit input from people who have interest in building this Walkable Community concept with all of us.

In the past month, four new businesses have opened including a new hospital, a doughnut franchise, a Chinese take out and our winery. Joe and I are thrilled at the prospect of revitalization. Come see the changes in Junction!

Jeanie

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Garage conversion in France – perfect for our community

Below you will see a link to an ingenious conversion – a tiny 431 sq. ft. dark garage in Bordeaux, France is turned into a light, airy and beautifully workable space.
http://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/blogs/abandoned-garage-reborn-as-airy-pied-%C3%A0-terre?hpt=hp_bn11
With no running water, very little electricity and a historical ordinance against touching the roof, a wonderful living space with sliding doors, a beautiful patio and everything one needs was created.
I can envision similar conversions or newly built structures in Junction – perhaps a number of small houses in a circle on some empty lots. Add parking in the back, a community garden in the middle of the circle,. golf cart and walking paths and you have instant neighborhoods.
And if one were to build using SIP (structurally insulated panels) such as our winery and bistro have been constructed from, add a small solar panel, wind turbine and water collection system, one could be off the grid. Our winery is built of SIP and even with keeping it a chilly 60 degrees and cooling the bistro area during the hot summer months, the electricity bill is startlingly tiny!!  It’s amazing.
An exciting development – I saw my first street legal golf cart yesterday on a street near our house. Thank you, City of Junction, for passing that ordinance.
I invite you to consider bringing your ideas, talent and families to Junction to help us create a Walkable Community concept that really works. We need your energy, new businesses, families of all ages and a willingness to do things together.
The winery and bistro is weeks away from opening – we are thrilled at the enthusiasm and people stopping by to buy wine out of our cases and visit. Please stop by when you can. And I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Jeanie

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Nearly there!

August is coming to a close and I am happy to report that the Junction Rivers Winery & Bistro is nearly ready for wine tastings and noshing.  The winery itself is completed and we are making wine from various Texas grapes. The drought and heat have taken their toll on this year’s crop and we have been chasing all over the State to pick up and in some cases, help pick and weigh grapes.

It’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We purchased a second pickup truck, a used one with a big bad boy diesel engine to tow the new 18′ trailer and tons of grapes. Little did we know that the air conditioner needed to be replaced – until, that is, we took possession of  the truck so we could leave the next day. We drove 6+ hours to a vineyard between Austin and Houston, in 110 degrees, windows down, guzzling ice water and praying for a breath of air.  I dubbed it the Hotter than Hell on Wheels Grape Tour. And it was.  But interestingly, we decided to make it part of the adventure and not to get stressed. Actually I think we were too wilted to get stressed!

The next Saturday afternoon we started out for a vineyard just south of the Oklahoma border, air conditioner blasting  and within an hour, the truck sputtered to a stop.  Turns out the front fuel tank gauge didn’t work and we got vapor lock. After a few minor miracles in rescue and repair, we were back on the road. Honestly, Joe and I had to laugh and say, “We can either get upset or we can relax and bless the grapes, the vineyards and owners, the truck and whole process.” We decided to relax and have fun.

Back to the winery/bistro. This week we will drive to Dallas to pick up furniture for the bistro and some kitchen equipment and the intention is to have the Wine Tasting Room open by next weekend. … Or Labor Day. :) )  My new motto is “Arbitrary deadlines can be changed.”

Our wines for this year are already bottled and just waiting to be delivered. We have had a number of meetings with our chef/consultant about designing a simple and  delicious menu.

Please stay tuned. Things are really starting to roll now!

Jeanie

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Progress in Junction

Joe and I are proud to announce that the Junction Rivers Winery and Bistro is nearing completion, however our tentative opening date has been moved to August, 2011.  If you have ever built a structure and/or started a new business venture, you can relate to the many ‘bumps on the road’ in construction, finding vendors, ordering supplies and the myriad details involved. We have the added opportunity and challenge of making it ecologically sound and energy efficient. The winery and bistro is the anchor for our vision of a Walkable Community.

The other anchor is our new home two blocks away.  We are renovating an office building and adding an energy efficient wing for living space, including solar panels, wind turbines, a water recollection system (just like the winery/bistro) and using highly energy efficient SIP construction. Moving from a ranch to a small, green home in town is an adjustment but we are literally ‘walking our talk’ by being the first to embrace the walkable concept.

We are very encouraged by the enthusiasm from the City of Junction as they get behind the idea of expanding living spaces and opening new businesses.

Please feel free to join the discussion of our concept and especially be thinking about cottage type industries that you could own. We see a need for many goods and services to complement the businesses already operating in Junction. These include locally made foods such as artisan cheeses, fresh vegetables, goat meat sources; a vision and eye center, specialty stores and much much more.

We are excited. And we cannot do this alone. If you have a desire to live with fresh air, plentiful water, beautiful surroundings and develop a supportive neighborhood, we invite you to participate.

With gratitude,

Jeanie

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Thriving not just surviving

The tragedy that is unfolding in one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries with a stable economy leads me to think about our Walkable Community Project.

How quickly everything for basic living necessities has devolved in Japan as the world rushes to help the survivors get through another day.  I was awakened the other night by a huge thunderclap and lightening shining like a searchlight. My first thought was to marvel at the storm’s fury, followed by thoughts of millions of people across the Pacific huddled with no food, water, shelter or transportation. Added to that is the reality of radiation poisoning as reactor after reactor melts down. My short frightening awakening by the storm is nothing compared to what others are experiencing now.

While I’m not a DoomsDay person, anyone can see that few of us could survive under that sort of devastation and deprivation. The vision we have  of a real community with plenty of water, fresh air and land to grow crops locally is resonating with many others.  People are seeing the value of taking steps to ensure a way of life that is thriving, not just surviving.

Today I spoke to two friends in Fort Worth who have successful businesses and own a couple of homes- and they are excited to think about our Walkable Community. They, like many others,  bring talent, heart and  humor with their vision and enthusiam.

The world is shifting and changing in many ways. From the geological crush of tectonic plates, the global economy taking hit after hit with increased fuel and food costs, and the uncertainty of continued fuel and energy, it is clear that things cannot remain the same. Added to this mix is the fact that so many familes are spread out all over the country and world and would love to have a supportive community to live and work in ~one with people who care about one another.

This is a reality that lifts my heart and encourages us to build the project.

Joe and I are making big progress on the winery and bistro. The old building came down this week and the lot is cleared. Contractors are busily getting ready to lay the foundation, build the walls and ceilings and do plumbing and electrical work.  Joe has also been busy giving a number of Power Point presentations to various organizations in Junction and we are getting good feedback.

But we are only two people. If you feel inclined to consider being a part of this exciting and comforting venture, please let us know by writing your own reply to our blogs.

Our intention is to be on the leading edge of this idea to provide a safe and happy environment within the city structure to allow others to thrive and not just survive. We’d love to hear from you!

Jeanie Brosius

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The power of a vision

As we have described in this Walkable Community blog, Joe and I have a vision of a vibrant, sustainable, friendly, prosperous neighborhood located in Junction, TX.

Some may say it has potential but I’m reminded of former University of Texas Coach Darrell Royal who once replied to a reporter asking about a young player who had potential. Coach sniffed and said, “Potential just means you ain’t done it yet.”

People might look at our Walkable Community idea, the Junction Rivers Winery and Bistro where we have yet to lay a brick and our renovated office building home that is still in planning states… and think that these things have potential but are not done.

I want to remind you of the power of a vision and more importantly, of how using your senses in the creation of a vision can make all the difference. As we talk to others, put plans on paper, walk the perimeter of the buildings and visualize vibrant outcomes, we are actually making it more real.

Millions of people watched the Superbowl this past Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. My sister and I talked before the game even started and both agreed that the Packers would win. Now, we are not psychic or even gamblers, but there was a strong sense that they would triumph.

She sent me this article today that gives insight to how the Coach pushed the players into believing they would win by having them fitted Saturday night for Super Bowl rings.

On the eve of the biggest game in their collective lives, the Green Bay Packers were already setting their sights on the hardware that comes with winning football’s biggest game.
A day after his Packers won Super Bowl XLV, Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy revealed that he had his team fitted for Super Bowl rings on Saturday night following the team’s final meeting before the Super Bowl.
“I talked to our football team a lot about having real confidence, and those are just examples and opportunities to express that,” McCarthy told reporters on Monday, according to the Kansas City Star. “I felt that the measurement of the rings, the timing of it would be special, it would have a significant effect on our players doing it the night before the game.
As Packers general manager Ted Thompson pointed out, the Pack would need to be fitted either way since they’d be receiving rings for winning the NFC Championship, but McCarthy’s intended message seemed to resonate strongly with his team.
“It was the night before the game, and we could see that it was right there,” linebacker Desmond Bishop told ESPN.com. “Everything we wanted was right there in our hands, literally and figuratively.”

a link to a different story on this:
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2011/02/mike-mccarthy-had-packers-fitted-for-super-bowl-rings-on-saturday/1

As we think about the outcome of a workable, walkable community with jobs, recreation, social interaction and fresh air and food, I envision the current residents of Junction and Kimble County as ones who will provide encouragement and allow us to work with organizations and groups in a healthy and interactive way. I also see people being drawn to this vision and location and bringing their own talents, abilities, dreams and hopes with them.

If you feel excitement around the vision we are holding, please respond through this blog. We welcome your thoughts, dreams, questions and comments.  Just like the Green Bay Packers made it ‘real’ together, so can we!

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Wise counsel for community

Be sure to check out the website, www.elderwisdomcircle.org,  designed for free advice – excluding financial, medical and legal advice – from elders who have years of life experience.

Elder Wisdom Circle is comprised of people ages 60 to 105 with access to internet who are willing to share the value of life lessons to anyone who cares to ask for advice.

This is a great way for people who normally feel unwanted or unloved…and I’m speaking of both elders and young people alike, to connect in meaningful ways.

We understand in our Walkable Community there will be opportunities for people of all ages to come together and connect in person and also through neighborhood groups and interests.

It’s fun to see how the internet is connecting people instantly all over the world and yet, to know that some things remain inherently human ~ such as teenage angst; parenting frustrations; workplace behavior and emotional stress.

Take a moment to check out the website and pass on to others if you feel so inclined.

Celebrating our combined wisdom and abilities, Jeanie

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Walkable Community weather-proofs us

Today I flew from Miami to DFW in the first aircraft allowed to land after snow, sleet and ice caused the airport and many others across the nation to close.

Severe winter storms are sweeping across a 2000 mile swath, creating havoc and dangerous conditions for millions of people.

Unable to drive from DFW, I felt fortunate to find one of the few cabs operating. Two other stranded travelers and I happily shared the cab, stopping and dropping off one at a time.

David, our driver, who just started driving a cab after being recently downsized from a major corporation, introduced himself and asked us all to get to know one another.

In this pocket of shared adversity we experienced a bonding as David picked his way across frozen freeways and treacherous streets. A feeling of camraderie prevailed even as we oohed and ahhed at the cars and trucks scattered in ditches, medians and streets.

This experience reminded me of how our walkable community will function in conjunction with other people. Not only will we know our neighbors and their needs but both in good and bad times, we can be available to others.

Having a walkable, people friendly community will let us know that it doesn’t take a disaster or weather event to let people bond.

While gratified to have had nearly three hours in a shared cab with our driver and other travelers, I know this is not the norm for big city living. We can go weeks or months without meaningful interaction with anyone outside our family or close friends circle.

As Joe and I create the vision of friendly, workable, sustainable community in a great town like Junction, we are excited to consider what life can be like with a built in support system of people who know and care about one another.

Here’s to warm feelings in body, mind and spirit. 
Jeanie Brosius

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Facing our Fears

There is a saying .. we want our life to change but we don’t want to change our life.

When thinking about downsizing, moving to a new, unknown, albeit exciting and lovely way of life, many people are stopped by their fears.

Fears that they won’t know anyone, don’t know the area, may have to get rid of the clutter in their houses and lives and even to learn something new.

One of my elderly aunts from the foothills of Pennsylvania was visiting our family in Albuquerque and all of us sisters took her to dinner. At that time, fresh fish was a fairly uncommon menu item where she lived and yet she ordered without hesitation, fresh planked salmon. When it arrived, she tasted it and pronounced it delicious and said it was the first time she’d had fresh salmon.

When I questioned her choosing something she didn’t know if she would like, Aunt Hazel said, “It’s only one meal out of thousands of meals. If I don’t like it, so what? I’ll choose something else.”

Don’t you love that?

You may have heard that FEAR is an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” But of course, my favorite is “Forget Everything and Run!”  :)

Below is a link that you can copy and paste of a breathtaking video  shot in Alaska of a young man named Terjie who faces all his fears on a 7000 ft peak with his snowboard. It is absolutely transformative to watch.
video.mpora.com/watch/3ddSZfihM

If you are intriqued with the idea of a Walkable-People and Earth Friendly Community but part of you feels paralyzed by fear – ask yourself what seems to be holding you back? Everything in our lives was ‘unknown’ at one time or another and yet once we do it, it becomes familiar.

We invite you to gently consider how your life could and would change and the consequences of staying stuck.

Ben Franklin used to come to clear consensus on decision making by taking a sheet of paper, drawing a line down the middle and putting Pro and Con on either side of that line. Then he would list all the reasons why he should do something and all the reasons why he should not do something. This exercise clearly shows the preponderance of  thoughts around any issue.

This community is not for everyone and we certainly are not recruiting people. We know how we want to live and are letting others share in it if it seems appropriate.  We sketch the outline of the picture, add a few dabs of color and let others fill it in, not really knowing what the end product will look like.

Is change scary? It can be. Is change exciting? It can be.

We are on a path to Walkable Community – facing our fears and living with the exciting thought of a vision becoming real.

We invite you to comment about your ideas and yes, fears. Together we are community. – Jeanie Brosius

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Walkable Community for all ages

Following a conversation with a friend in Dallas who is very interested in retiring and moving away from the big city, the question was asked, “Will this be like a Sun City concept?” And my reply was “Absolutely not. In fact, our vision is one for all ages, including young families with children, young adults and people looking to simplify their lives.”

Even though we know that 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day and that trend is slated to continue for the next 20 years, real community is a blend of people in all stages of life.

As I think about cottage industries and the flavor of a walkable community, the sounds of children laughing and playing in the safety of an intentional community makes my heart sing.

As you consider your own interest and the viability of this walkable community, please include your friends and families who also might want to participate in growing this vision.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions. – Jeanie Brosius

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