A country feel in the heart of the city
Structurally, the Hawk’s Nest Community consists of two adjacent homes on a secluded cul de sac in Riverwest, Milwaukee.
The Hawk's Nest is a modern, open concept house built in 2002.
The Coyote’s Den is a three-story, duplex, praire-style house built in 1912.
Both are located on nearly an acre of shared land, bordered on two sides by the Milwaukee River Greenway. Despite being in the heart of an amazing city, when you look out to the backyard all you can see is forest and trees - it feels like the countryside. There are many miles of trails right out our back door, yet the city bus line is only two blocks away, as are restaurants, hardware, a Colectivo Coffee shop and more. Downtown Milwaukee is approximately two miles away, down the bike path, by road, or by boat (of which we have several to share!).
All visitors - both those living here and those just passing through as part of an event or Airbnb - can take advantage of the many amenities. Residents get a few additional perks.
- Off street parking
- A sizeable basement workshop with tools to borrow
- Outdoor fire pit with lots of wood
- Working fireplace in each home
- Grills and grilling space
- Gardens, fruit trees, berry patches, and mushrooms in the woods, spring maple sugaring, and room for more of all of this. A permaculture plan in the works.
- Miles of nature trails out our back door
- In summer, badminton, kayaking, and lawn games. In winter, a sledding hill, cross country skiing and even skating on occasion when the river freezes over. Year round, a pool table, ping pong, and darts in an unfinished basement.
- Rain-fed garden pond and all wildlife it attracts. There are fish and turtles in the pond, and frequent visits from turkeys, deer and much, much more.
- Extra fishing poles with fishing out our door (and down the hill)
- Rain catchment systems for gardening, washing or cooling off
- Rope swings, hammocks, and a “sky chair” overlooking the valley
- Composting of all non-meat foods in the home
- Rooftop sunrise/sunset viewing platform … the “Hawk’s Nest”.
- Picnic tables and porch seating with lovely antique oil lamps (we do have electricity though too, promise)
Living at Hawk's Nest
There are a lot of reasons to make the Hawk's Nest Community your next home, and we aim to be transparent about all of them:
In addition to the amenities listed above, everyone in our community can take advantage of:
- Bike storage
- Free washer and dryer in both homes
- Furnished and unfurnished rooms (or somewhere in the middle, if you’ll help us move stuff!)
- One home has central air (Hawk’s Nest), the other has ample windows (Coyote’s Den)
- Free WiFi fast enough for most streaming
- Huge back porch with view (Hawk’s Nest) or peaceful back patio with plants (Coyote’s Den)
- Fully equipped kitchens (though you’re welcome to bring your favorite pots or equipment!)
- Kayaks for sharing (kayaking from the house to downtown for dinner is a treat!)
- Extra bikes, including a fun tandem
- A sea kayak rigged for sailing, moored in the harbor (Note: you must go through training and share the docking fee to use this independently)
- Designated storage, either in the basements or garages
- Guest rooms available for your visiting loved ones (advance notice required)
- Root cellar with a Narnia-esque secret entrance
- Community Supported Agriculture drop-off site, which means periodic free vegetables
- Max and Reilly, the cockatiels, and Harley and Davidson the chinchillas
- Space for additional projects … Greenhouse some day? Pizza oven? Chickens? A sauna? Solar shower? Another interior bathroom? Added decking on the bluff? Tree house? Strawberry patch? Bees? Outdoor pizza oven? Etc.
- TV area plus large screen projector for movie nights
- Space for camping for visiting guests or just for fun and a Tentsile tent to hang in the trees (Google it if curious), plus extra camping gear to lend out
In addition to the perks that come with the property itself, we think our community adds a certain flair:
- Pedro’s Food Truck: Pedro is a friend who rents out part of the garage and a parking place for his food truck. Pedro has become part of our ad-hoc community. He will occasionally provide extra food to the household. Those late night empanadas are quite lovely.
- CSA: We host a Community Supported Agriculture farm. Every Wednesday from June through November, the Springdale Farm drops off boxes of fresh vegetables for 42 families that pick their food up from our garage. You can opt to receive a box for a cost (managed by the farm). Boxes that are not picked up within a day or two of pick-up date become ours to share, so sometimes there are extras available.
- Network: By living in a group of 6 to 8 people, it means we have 6 to 8 other networks to tap beyond or own. While not an expectation, I am guessing that once we get to know each other, if I am traveling to NYC and you have friends there, you are likely to say, “Why don’t you stay with my friends?” I’m quite certain it will happen in reverse. For example, a friend of the community has her own 40-acre “bit of heaven” in Cornucopia, WI on Lake Superior. We have a friendly, informal agreement that anyone she knows visiting here can stay with us - likewise anyone coming from our community can stay with her. By sharing our networks, we can expand our community outside of our home and share incredible experiences. This is particularly rich given the international flavor of the home - we’ve had tenants and Airbnb guests from around the world. Several community members were planning a trip to Italy this past spring, staying with a friend who they met as a summer-long Airbnb guest here at the Hawk's Nest. COVID-19 got in the way, but the point stands!
While we think this is a pretty good deal, we want to be frank about things that may cause inconvenience and concern. It’s your call if you think any of these stack up to be a deal killer:
- Showers: There is one shower for four rooms in the Coyote's Den, and two showers for 4-5 rooms in the Hawk’s Nest. This has not caused issues in the past, due to few of us having overlapping schedules, but there is the potential for conflict. Know, however, that there are plans to remodel for additional showers quite soon.
- Noise: While we are not loud, these are houses and not apartments; thus, you’ll likely hear ambient noise from others in the house in most rooms. While you typically won’t be able to make out specific conversation elsewhere in the house from your room, you may be able to tell when people are talking. We encourage the use of ear phones, sound scapes, etc. to help mitigate this, as well as clear communication if problems arise. Similar to the shower issue, some remodeling is being planned to help with this in certain areas.
- Parking: Our garages are primarily used for community space - storage, work projects, CSA food drop-offs, etc. Vehicles in them are typically parked in, so they are infrequently used for vehicles. Most parking is on the ample parking pads in front of each house.
- Community: So often our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses. Lots of people in a space can mean messes, people getting on your nerves, mismatching habits or schedules, etc. I may be blind to your needs and you may not be practiced in confronting this truth, or vice versa. We think this is often where the most growth and the most trust comes from, but it’s worth naming that it isn’t always easy.
What is private to you:
- Your room
- Your designated space in the refrigerator and freezer
- Your designated cabinet space in the kitchen
- Your extra storage space in the basement
- Possible garden space if desired, though we currently share most of this
- Your shelf or drawer in the closest bathroom to your room
- Your shelf in the shower
- Your thoughts!
What is shared:
- The living area and kitchens of both homes, along with community spaces (sun rooms, dining areas, garages, etc.)
- All outdoor spaces - yards, gardens, etc.
- Work supporting the home - tending the lawn, cleaning, etc.
- Ideas as they relate to the property and community
- Your candor and perspective on how our dynamic is going
- Hospitality for Airbnb guests and occasional day retreats
What you can choose to participate in:
- While we don’t have formal shared meals, we are certainly open to sharing food if and when the time arises!
- You are welcome to celebrate holidays we observe with us - up to you if you do the same in return!
- We have memberships at places like the Art Museum, the Urban Ecology Center, etc. and are happy to share them.
Because of the quality of the space, you might want to share it with others, which is encouraged. Let's say you are having a party and want one of the kitchens for a period of time, or a guest is coming and you’d like to use one of the guest rooms for the weekend. We’ll make accommodations to the best of our ability - this should feel like a home, not just a rental!
We do like to give back to the community around us. We have hosted retreats for local nonprofits, dinners for international visitors, house concerts and the occasional neighborhood “Friday Fire.” You can help to host these with us, participate in them or just do your own thing. There is no obligation to attend these events (unless you’re the one organizing it!).
With all of this activity, it might seem like the place is crawling with people, but truth be told, these events are not all that frequent and the place is big enough that it seems that people kind of disappear. That said, any who live at the Hawk’s Nest Community must embrace and support the idea of the home hosting others - even if you yourself are not the host!
The Application Process
This section is pending - both Hawknest homes will open up in August of 2020!
Some advice before applying
Those that do well here are independent and comfortable doing their own thing. You should be able to say no to others, and be declined on your offers without offense. As an example, if you say, “I’m going to the movies, anyone wish to join me?” you should be fine going to the movie alone. You may be happier if someone came along, but if people are busy you should not take it personally. That does not mean we are anti-social, as often people do decide to join you at the movie (or equivalent event). In fact it’s a highlight of living together. This is stated just to be abundantly clear that we want anyone and everyone living here to be able to opt out without a sense of pressure or obligation. While hopefully we learn to enjoy each other’s company, this community should not be one’s sole source of community and friendship.
We encourage practice of The Four Agreements, from a book of the same name by Don Miguel Ruiz:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don't take anything personally.
- Don't make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
When we say kindness is important, this does not mean passivity or rolling over in the face of others' preferences. We value direct honesty and candor. It really helps to know your own boundaries when living here, so as not to be swayed by group think, peer pressure, the need to please, etc. In Ken’s words:
I have a kind personality. I also will often seek advice, or help with a project. The combination can sometimes have people say yes, when they really would rather not help, because of subtle pressure or power dynamics. That is not what we want to have happen here. I try to prevent it in my own actions, and we all try to prevent it by naming it.
WHAT WE ARE NOT
There is no spiritual underpinning or hidden agenda - we have our own beliefs and share freely, but we’re not looking to convince you of anything. If you’re bought in by this site, and by meeting us, great! If you aren’t, there are other ways to be involved.
...at least in the traditional sense. There is no shared equity, as Ken (and the bank) owns the property. However, there is shared ownership in other ways - see our “social contract.”
A Party Home
Some of us drink, but never to excess. Hard liquor is discouraged at any large gathering (we’ve had problems in the past), though we have some in the house for occasional use. There is no smoking in the houses and only discrete smoking outside, preferably away from the buildings.