Here are thumbnail sketches of some of the people who are already future residents of Rocky Corner:
Yana Serry was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and came to the US with her mom, Shanee Stepakoff, when she was eleven. Her major hobbies are reading (a wide range), creative writing, dance, and drawing and painting. Yana also likes track and field and tennis. Yana has been cooking since she was six. She makes a mean matzo ball soup and has experimented with the cuisines of Korea, Morocco, and other nations, in addition to West African dishes. Yana is spiritually conscious and has cultural ties to all three Abrahamic religions, which she hopes can facilitate building bridges across differences, which is one of her core values. Yana is known as an animal whisperer, but she is also fluent in Temne, her native language, as well as in Krio (lingua franca of Sierra Leone), English, and French, and a nearly fluent in Spanish.
Anastasia Pyranikova developed a love of nature as a child in Russia, spending summers at a country dacha. She came to the US to study linguistics and then law, eventually building a family and a career. She moved from law into coaching, training, and development, eventually being certified as a wellness coach and studying clinical herbalism. Nowadays, Anastasia spends her time practicing yoga, growing herbs, blending teas, making tinctures, conducting herbal workshops and consultations, and designing online courses (see her blog at mudrootsandmoonlight.com). Anastasia doesn’t like to follow recipes but likes to create them in her spare time. She writes poetry and is writing a children’s book.
Anastasia’s daughter, Alexis, loves music; she plays violin and recorder. Alexis is a serious skater, as well, and can usually be found practicing or competing on a rink somewhere.
Beth Bradley is a lifelong Connecticut resident. Beth is a musician and artisan. She plays finger-style guitar and has a passion for other string instruments, as well. Beth is a member of a number of musical assemblies: sacred music, Trad-Celtic, rock, and folk. She grew up with extraordinarily talented parents (artist and artisan) who taught her a great respect for our natural world. Beth faithfully continues her family tradition to advocate for the environment and for building community. She is a gardener and an amateur herbalist who loves wild crafting and foraging as well as teaching others what she has learned, especially to children.
Beth looks forward to meeting new friends and working with them to create something amazing.
“Stay tuned!” she says.
Dick Margulis has been a butcher, a baker, and, briefly, a candlestick maker. He has also been a writer, editor, antiwar activist, and community organizer. He spent a dozen years grown organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers for market and now divides his time between gardening, cooking, and earning a living as a book editor and book designer (dmargulis.com). He is married to Tina Smillie.
Tina Smillie grew up in California, went to school at Antioch and then at UC Berkeley, and has lived in Connecticut since the late 1970s. Tina became a pediatrician, as her dad had been, establishing a family tradition that her daughter Kate is following. She left general pediatrics in the mid-1990s to invent a practice in the new specialty of breastfeeding medicine. This led to some surprising observations, which in turn led to invitations to travel and speak around the country and around the world.
Kevin Redline is a fun-loving and hard-working student of library science who wants to make sure people have access and understand all the resources they need to make sense of this crazy world. He is in his second year at the University of Illinois’s online Master of Library Science program, currently serving as the bookmobile driver for the West Haven Public Library and a library assistant at the Quinnipiac School of Law. When he isn’t studying or working, he is most likely reading, playing video games, hiking, making kombucha and hot sauce, or planning the next adventure for his Dungeons and Dragons group. Kevin is also excited about the possibility of having a dog friend at Rocky Corner with his wonderful partner Kyla.
Kyla DeRisi has lived in the Greater New Haven area all her life. Instead of going away for college, she enrolled in Naugatuck Valley Community College in 2013 and never quite left—eventually becoming a writing tutor and, as of last year, an adjunct instructor of English as a second language. Kyla received a master’s degree in creative writing from and works at The Graduate Institute, which is right down the road from Rocky Corner. She’s an old soul who misses having time to read all day long like she did in childhood, but is glad that she seems to be getting “younger” with age. She likes hiking, experimental baking, working on her fantasy novel, and browsing Petfinder.com in hopes of one day getting a dog with Kevin. She has worked with horses in the past and is excited to learn more about living and working on a farm.
Rich Wilber was born in New Haven and is a lifelong Connecticut resident. He and Nancy moved to a communal farm in Oxford when their son was less than a year old. They left after a year and moved to Southbury, where they helped form a parent cooperative daycare, participated in a food buying club, and were active in various political groups for different causes. Rich has worked in appliance repair, for himself and others, and has also worked as a computer programmer. In addition he acquired a degree in fine art. Rich has exhibited paintings in a few shows, and he does fine woodworking in addition to carpentry and cabinetmaking. Rich has earned a permaculture design certificate that he is putting to good use at Rocky Corner.
Nancy Prior has lived in Connecticut all her life. She is a lifelong gardener and nature lover. Nancy likes to cross-country ski, hike, kayak, and bicycle; and she loves to dance, serving on the board of a nonprofit dance club for many years. She enjoys cooking healthful vegetarian meals and baking, and she is committed to living lightly on the earth. Nancy considers herself progressive, but she has worked with diverse social groups and movements. She is close to her extended family and is part of a long-lasting social circle. Nancy is a retired paralegal. She is married to Rich, and they have one adult son.
Marie Pulito has been a Connecticut resident all her life. Since graduating from Fairfield University in 1986, she has worked as a maternal–newborn nurse and lactation consultant at Yale–New Haven Hospital. Marie and her spouse, Brenda Caldwell, raised their daughter in Bethany and currently parent cats, chickens, and alpacas. Marie has studied weaving and basketry, and her hobbies include kayaking and reading.
Ed Kuntz was born in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium, where his main memory of childhood is going camping with his family. Ed trained in Montessori education but did not pursue that interest. He drove a taxi for many years and also worked as a postman in Harlem. Ed has always been interested in bodywork, including the Feldenkrais Method and Iyengar Yoga. His main interest since his retirement is reading the great writers.
Elvy Ferrario came to the US from Milan, Italy, when she was 23. Here she earned a degree in architecture and went on to teach the subject in public schools and then to work as a school counselor for recent immigrants. Living in a communal household of seven people in a brownstone in Brooklyn, she met Ed. Elvy looks forward to expanding her newfound passion for felting by learning to raise sheep and grow plants for natural dyeing.
Ed and Elvy have two grown daughters and two grandsons.
Dee Stradling The ideas of conservation, resiliency, sustainability and community – doing it all together – are what most drew Dee to cohousing. Originally from New York City, she also lived in Mexico for several years, enough to become fluent in Spanish which was a huge plus in both a long nursing career and a second career in video & documentary filmmaking. Dee is eager to learn more about the land & its natural inhabitants, as well as participating in the Rocky Corner community and common house activities.
Shanee Stepakoff was born and raised in the Boston area and has lived in New York City and several other locations in the US and abroad. As a clinical psychologist, she has devoted much of her career to working with survivors of political violence in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. She has also worked as an educator and in various clinical settings in the US. Shanee has an MFA in creative writing and has been published in various literary journals. She teaches poetry therapy in California and New York. Shanee is the proud single mom of Yana, a student at Wesleyan and a creative, bright, caring young woman.
Kim Radowiecki, a New Haven native, grew up on the other side of West Rock, in Hamden. She has spent recent years enjoying solitude and nature at the edge of the woods, near the Connecticut River. She is now gladly giving up two-acre zoning for community with like-minded people.
Kim has enjoyed what she calls a checkered career in the corporate world, small business, and finally, academia. Today she serves the disabled community as an advocate, researcher, and project hacker. The threads that tie her life together are her love of art, design, and creation with whatever tools are at hand—all things bright and beautiful.
Kim is most proud of her now grown kids, who hopefully have inherited some of her best traits and few of her worst. Ken and Rachel live on opposite coasts. They frequently return her quick wit and quirky sense of humor with their own, in person, or via FaceTime.
Leslie Arden has recently moved back to the northeast after spending the last 26 years in southern California. She has been a part of the real estate industry both in Connecticut and California for over 45 years. With an undergraduate degree in art education and master’s degree in applied communications, she also has done freelance graphic design work for many years. Leslie has one son, Ben, married to Susan, and is now the proud grandma of Yana Lynne—all New York City residents. She moved back to New York in 2016 and is now ready to start a new chapter of her life living in cohousing: “ I just purchased my new home at Rocky Corner and am thrilled to now be a part of this cohousing community. I am very much looking forward to this new adventure living in community with my fellow journeyers.”
Kristin Erickson is a Connecticut native. She lived in Fairfield for 25 years, where she raised her three children, now in their twenties. After retiring from her career as a home hospice social worker, a job she adored, Kristin worked for a time as a veterinary hospice social worker and rescued two hospice dogs. She is a huge animal lover and shares her life with two rescue cats. Kristin hopes to rescue and train another dog in the future to be able to bring some dog-love to folks in hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes. Kristin is also excited to find some neighbors to learn about beekeeping with and get some hives set up after moving into Rocky Corner.
Anne Gair-MacMichael sees herself as a community person. She says, “That is the most important thing about me.” Anne has thrived and participated in summer camp communities for most of her life. She started as a ten-year-old camper at a small Girl Scout camp in the Berkshires and proceeded, “in my Capricorn way,” to become a full-time camp administrator for Girl Scouts of Connecticut. Along the way, she learned to love to backpack, canoe, and sail. She says, “I am most at home on the water. I love the flapping of sails as a boat effortlessly comes about for a new tack and perspective on life.”
Anne was born and grew up in the Hudson River Valley. She was a top student and athlete in a mediocre public school. She was active in the peace movement and the folk music world, while escaping to camp in the summers. She lived in Indiana for seven years, including her time at Earlham College. She taught chemistry and mathematics at Oakwood Friends School, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which led her to embrace the Religious Society of Friends as her primary spiritual community. Anne and her partner Marni have two daughters, Amika and Kirina, who continue to be an active part of her life as they take their places in the world.
Marni Gair acquired a degree in the classics and taught briefly before wandering into the trades and working as a sign fabricator for a number of years. For the last few decades she worked as a registered nurse, first in acute care and later in school and camp nursing, while raising two children. Marni learned to use tools from her father and developed a knack for building things with wood. Retirement has allowed her to indulge her love of hiking and backpacking.
Kirina Gair-MacMichael currently lives in Chicago, IL, where she works for a non-profit providing mentoring support for black and brown youth. Her passions surround the intersections of identity and diversity work. She spends much of her time teaching and facilitating conversations around intersectionality, oppression, and anti-racism.
She is interested in mental health care, particularly access and support for LGBTQIA+ folks of color. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, canoeing, making fires, listening to Jazz and Folk music, learning to cook, and traveling. She feels the most grounded when she is out in nature and surrounded by community. She is excited to be a part of the Rocky Corner family and learn more about agriculture, and the passions of those around her.
Lori Schumann came to the U.S. from Germany in her early twenties and has been a long-time resident of Queens, the most diverse borough of New York City. She is a committed bicycle commuter and rides to her office in Manhattan most days. On evenings and weekends, Lori attends Yoga and Pilates classes at the local YMCA or takes long walks on the beach. She has been part of a food coop for several decades and has been searching for a suitable cohousing community for a few years. Rocky Corner and all that it has to offer – including its proximity to NYC – is perfect. Lori was happy to discover that the community’s focus is on diversity, sustainability, permaculture, organic farming and, as an added bonus, the property is situated 560 feet above sea level.
Claudia Ruffle mostly grew up in a small town on the Connecticut shoreline, played piano and violin, sewed most of her own clothes and graduated from University of Connecticut with a degree in sociology. She has been a substitute teacher, waitress, technical aide, builder of a log cabin, administrative secretary, exercise rider of Thoroughbred racehorses and polo ponies, and tutor of mathematics. From 2011 to 2019, she and Vladimir owned a house in New Haven, where she had the opportunity to begin practicing permaculture methods she had been reading about, and to gain hands-on experience from managing their third of an acre yard. Claudia spends time each day on a manual treadmill and an orbital rowing machine. She enjoys the challenge of creating recipes from scratch. She considers Buddhism to be her spiritual path. Living in cohousing has been a lifelong dream.
Frances Sink has lived in New England for forty years, a transplant from her childhood in the piedmont and mountains of North Carolina. She joined Rocky Corner in 2019 after looking at cohousing communities up and down the East Coast. At Rocky Corner she found a community of diverse neighbors with shared interests in building a vibrant community together and living sustainably with the land we’ll cultivate, regenerate, and preserve.
Frances recently retired as the minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Stamford, Connecticut, after a previous lengthy career as a clinical psychologist. She mentors and teaches in the Spiritual Guidance Program at the Rowe Center in the Berkshires. She’s been committed to antiracist and eco-justice movements for many years. In additions to looking forward to living in close harmony with the land and the seasons at Rocky Corner, Frances is eager to have more time for shared meals and good times with neighbors. She plans to continuing learning to play the concertina, get reacquainted with her rigid heddle loom, and do a bit of personal writing. She has two cats joining her at Rocky Corner and an adult son who lives in Brooklyn.
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