The Masala Co-op was the first house owned by the BHC. Masala began its cooperative existence as the Slovo equity co-op in the mid 1990s, and with support from the City of Boulder’s Division of Housing, became a permanently affordable rental cooperative in 1999, when it was purchased by the BHC.
Our house was originally built more than 100 years ago by Rocky Mountain Joe, a local photographer, mountain man and all around character. It’s grown and changed since then, expanding, and then getting sub-divided into four apartment units, before the co-op re-combined the living spaces. Today the house has 11 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms on four levels from basement to attic. We’re within easy walking distance of the University of Colorado, Downtown Boulder, the Farmer’s Market, and open space trails. The co-op usually has 11-12 residents, though it has on occasion ranged as high as 14.
Masala is located just north of University Hill in the Flatirons neighborhood, and while we are closer to the University of Colorado than any of the other BHC co-ops, we’re definitely not a “student co-op” in the tradition of the Berkeley Student Cooperative, or the ICC Co-op systems in Ann Arbor and Austin. Our system is much more in the vein of the Madison Community Cooperative, which houses more than 200 members in 11 houses all over Madison, Wisconsin. Because of our income qualification requirements it is difficult for us to accept undergraduate students as members, though we often have several members who are graduate students with low paid teaching or research positions. In the fall of 2013 our members will range in age from 19 to 42, and represent an eclectic sampling of the Boulder community, including but not limited to…
- a Boulder-native barista who loves 80s music
- a professional poet from Iowa
- a start-up worker from Motown
- a bicycle-building climate and energy policy wonk
- a Canadian arctic canoe trip guide who is also an EMT
- a rock-climbing urban planner working on public health and active transportation
- a book binding Buddhist and iPhone app developer
- a dancing geneticist who studies schizophrenia
- the BHC’s own fire-breathing Executive Director
- a fiddle-playing cocktail waitress who studies neuroscience
The house has personal and organizational ties to many community organizations, including Boulder Food Rescue, Clean Energy Action, Community Cycles, the Flatirons Farm, the INVST Community Studies program at CU, the Colorado Green Building Guild, the Shambala Center and Dharma Ocean. We try and send at least one house member to the NASCO Institute Co-op Conference in Ann Arbor each year.
In recent years, we’ve tended to be a fairly chill bunch, inclined toward full moon potlucks, summer BBQs on our second floor deck, or days spent on bike rides and local rock climbing outings in Eldo and Boulder Canyon. When the weather’s fine we sometimes set up our projector and some seating in the garden and host the Masala Outdoor Theater or MOT. We try and schedule a house work-day once per quarter, to deep clean, garden and work on household renovation projects together.
We have a two hour long house meeting every Wednesday night after dinner where we deal with house business, make decision, and check in with each other. Coming to meeting is an integral part of living in the community and is considered mandatory. Of course everybody has other commitments from time to time, but members who consistently miss meeting are not able to fully participate in the community and its decision-making processes. Much more information about our house’s governance can be found in the Masala Membership Manual, which lives within the BHC Wiki.
The Masala co-op is dedicated to eating whole organic foods, locally grown when possible. We currently pay $160 per person per month for food — about $5/day. This is enough for us to buy plentiful food in bulk with the other BHC co-ops, and make two local grocery shopping trips each week. We also receive a weekly donation of past-its-prime produce from the Whole Foods Market on Baseline via Boulder Food Rescue. Most summers the co-op also subscribes to a local CSA, and we often have our own household vegetable garden as well. Masala residents were instrumental in the creation of the Flatirons Neighborhood Farm, an ultra-local urban CSA. In the past we have also kept chickens and participated in the Windsor Dairy’s raw milk share program.
Masala shares house meals five days a week. Monday through Thursday evenings we have dinner, and on Sunday at noon we do brunch. All house food and house meals are vegetarian, but many residents are omnivorous, and meat is frequently prepared by individuals in the Masala kitchen. Each member of the house is expected to sign up for 4 food-related chore slots every two weeks — including cooking, cleaning up after shared meals, food shopping, etc.
If you’re interested in living at Masala:
- Familiarize yourself with our application process. Masala does not do remote (phone/Skype) interviews — you will have to be present in Boulder for at least a few days to meet the other co-op members if you’d like to live here.
- Make sure you understand the income qualification requirements. Currently the income cap for new members at Masala is $50,911.
- Submit an application online.
- Arrange to come over and meet the house for a meal, by emailing the Masala Membership Coordinator.