SERENBE PORTRAIT PROJECT + Jeremiah Cowan 

 

We teamed up with Atlanta-based photographer Jeremiah Cowan to create portraits of the people who live here in Serenbe and document their stories. With over 600 residents in the community, these are just a few members of our expanding community.

 
 
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The Bacot Family

Eliza and Benton with their children

When did you move to Serenbe?

Eliza Bacot: We signed the contract on our home in 2013, around the time my son William was born. We officially moved in 2014.

How did you hear about Serenbe originally?

Eliza Bacot: I had been thinking of the organic South, and wanted to create a blog* about where people could find local food in the surrounding metro area. I had heard of Serenbe Farms, and told my husband Benton that we should go down there for the day, go visit the farm, and that can be my first blog post! We came to do a farm tour, and coincidentally Serenbe was having a big block party the same day. The whole street was blocked off and they had wine, food, music, and I was like… 'wow, this is a real neighborhood, this is kind of amazing!' We had been living in Decatur and really never saw ourselves leaving the city. We spent our whole day just exploring and by dinnertime we stepped out of the car to eat at The Farmhouse, I looked at my husband, crying, and said “I know you are going to think I’m crazy… but I think we should move here.” That night, by total chance, we met Karen Reed at dinner, who happens to be a real estate agent here. Sure enough – we had a contract on a house within 6 weeks.

*Visit Eliza's Blog Here

 

The Gailey Family

How did you hear about Serenbe?

Cathy Gailey: I sold a house here as a Remax agent and then told my husband about it. I brought him, we met Garnie, and totally fell in love with it.

What made you fall in love with it?

Alan Gailey: I would say the community. Kathy swayed me. I actually wanted to go out, get acreage, and basically get everybody away from me because that’s more my natural style. [laughs] I really have enjoyed the community around here.

Where did you move from and when?

Cathy: Peachtree City, 6 months ago! We were the first residents in Serenbe's new neighborhood called Mado.

 

 

The McClure FAMILY

How did you hear about Serenbe?

Blair: We had been coming down here to eat at the restaurants quite a bit, and on a whim, we decided we wanted to live here.

When did you start boarding your horses here?

Blair: We moved our horses here probably two or three months after moving here.

What made you want to live here?

Andy: First, the food. We also wanted an environment with a safe community where we could raise our child.

Blair: That’s one of the reasons we love it so much. Our son can run free and we can also have our horses here. Take those things and top them with the genuine sense of community here, and we were in.

 

The Ross Family

How did you all hear about Serenbe?

Darryl: I have been in the Atlanta area off and on for 25 years. Maybe a year or two after Serenbe was founded I had read some of the press and came to do a drive-through with a friend. It was still very new and there were not as much developed, but we thought it was a great idea. Years later, we were back in Atlanta and we were starting to look at different neighborhoods and I saw an advertisement for The Snow Queen (a Serenbe Playhouse production) and I thought, 'Oh yeah! That small little thing I saw on the other side of town, I’ll file that in my memories for something later.' Low and behold, we were thinking of planning a weekend trip, remembered there was an Inn, and went to see what it was all about.

Lorrie: We had just moved back from Santa Barbara, so I didn’t know a thing. I looked Serenbe up, learned about the animal village, all of the walkability – it looked great.

Darryl: That first time we came it was rainy mayhem, like not a lick of sunshine, but we still had the best weekend. We saw a Chatt Hills Music performance at a neighbor’s house. Edyn came with us and the next day people were saying ‘Oh hey, Edyn!’ on the street – people here are so nice.

When did you decide to move to Serenbe?

Lorrie: We moved to Serenbe in September of 2015. Actually, Darryl and I did not decide to move to Serenbe… Edyn decided we were going to move to Serenbe. We came to the Inn just for a weekend and had a wonderful visit. After returning home, we were driving to dance camp and Edyn said, 'Mama, when are we going back to Serenbe?' and I said 'I don’t know, did you like it there? We can go back for a visit sometime.' And what did you say Edyn? 'Oh no, we are not going to visit… we are going to live there! I’m going to go to the school and we are going to live there.'

I just had this feeling of, well, sometimes kids pick up on more than adults do, so Darryl and I came back with his best friend who was a realtor. The first house we walked into is the house we live in now, and that was it.

Edyn, why did you like Serenbe so much?

Edyn: I liked it a LOT. I like that everything is green. All the people because they are all very friendly. Both the trampolines – there’s two. Not much of driving, we get to walk everywhere. And my school! 

Lorrie: She goes to the Children’s House at Serenbe.

 

Jamie Sichel

When did you move to Serenbe?

I moved to Serenbe in January of 2017.

What made you want to move here?

I found myself in a new living situation, my boyfriend moved out and I was looking to do something I couldn’t have done before with my newfound freedom. As a freelance illustrator, I need to be somewhere inspiring or I’m never going to make this work. I was doing some research into Artist Residency programs and remembered that there was a program here at the Art Farm, AIR Serenbe. The residencies offered are about a month at a time, and I was interested in something much longer so I was a bit disappointed. Then it kind of dawned on me... I can actually just live here. I signed a lease shortly thereafter.

How did you hear about Serenbe?

I’ve known about it for a while, but I sort of forgot because I moved around. I heard about the HGTV Green House here when I came back and was glad I remembered it. I came down pretty much the next week.

What makes Serenbe so special?

Besides how beautiful it is… the community. Even the first day I visited I met my best friends who I hang out with every week. We get dinner and lunch together, it’s awesome. I was really sick a few weeks ago and my parents, who don’t live super far, were not worried because they know I have a village here. People are close, and I had about three people a day visit me to make sure I was alright.

See some of Jamie's work. 

 
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Marcia Romenack + Richard Jenkins

What brought you here to Serenbe?

Marcia: The beauty of the place. I have two friends who always mistake the name and it probably says it all – one calls it ‘Serendipity’ and the other ‘Serenity’. That really describes the atmosphere. We are also near our kids and Grandkids nearby in Newnan, so that is very important. We lived in Brookhaven before this.

How did you hear about Serenbe?

Richard Jenkins: What have known about Serenbe since it started. We have been watching it develop from afar, then it was just a nice place to come to and eat, and we started to come here regularly for dinner.

What was the deciding factor for moving?

Richard Jenkins: Good timing. As our family moved down to this area, we decided this is the only place we would want to live South of Atlanta. With living in big cities all my life, a rural environment with everything became increasingly appealing.

 
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Phyllis Bleiwis

When did you move to Serenbe?

2009. March 1, 2009. I remember because it snowed the next day. Really snowed. Serenbe is really beautiful in the snow.

How did you hear about Serenbe?

Before I retired, I was involved with a non-profit organization in Seaside, Florida that taught architects, planners, and builders how to build communities like Seaside – which was the first iteration of a new urban community. I knew about Serenbe professionally, and had met the Nygrens. To make it perfect, my best friend moved here and I visited him so much that I got to know everyone. When it was time to move, it was the easiest thing in the world.

What was the reason for your move?

First, that my best friend was here. I just liked the community, and it was a beautiful place. I also knew what it was about and I knew the philosophy behind the development, which was important to me. I moved from the panhandle of Florida, which is a completely different atmosphere. I love the green here.

 
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Mary Johnson

When did you move to Serenbe?

In September of 2016.

What made you want to move here?

Oh my gosh, there are so many things. I had a list of places that I would want to spend the rest of my life, and I had looked so many places. I studied the pros and cons of all of them, and I had more ‘pro’ boxes checked off for Serenbe than anywhere else. I always thought that I wanted to live within about 50 miles of a big city, so I could have access to the resources of a city but live in the country. I lived in cities all my life and I was looking for something else. This is a different phase of my life and for me, this was the phase where I want to have more fun. I want to have a place I can explore new passions in a supportive environment, walk to things, and the whole wellness aspect of Serenbe was huge. Organic food, fantastic events that I am actually interested in. Lectures, music, art, and more.

How did you hear about Serenbe?

Then I was living in Washington, DC. My sister called me out of the blue and told me to turn on the TV – she had found my dream house. It was the HGTV Green House, here in Serenbe. We flew down on a weekend soon after together to see it for fun. The blueberry bushes lining the streets were ripe, the house was open and gorgeous, and I loved the architecture. I am a Commercial Interior Designer by profession and love the modern farmhouse vernacular. So, long story short, after a few years of living in Miami, my sister kept bringing up Serenbe. Florida was not a good fit for me, and after several visits to Serenbe it just felt right. I can’t tell you if I have ever been happier in my life. It was like magic. I think I have more friends that I really call “friends” – people I can call if I really need help with something. It’s just the most amazing community. Everyday I’m surprised at the supportive, caring, and incredibly talented people that live here.

 
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Christi Moll

When did you move to Serenbe?

About 6 months ago.

What made you decide to move here?

I had found Serenbe in Cottage Living Magazine many moons ago, and came here over the course of a few years – just visiting. I couldn’t figure out how to live here, I was on the corporate track and just could not make it work. I was just finishing up a year of international travel on my last visit to Serenbe in 2016. I walked the labyrinth and put it all out there – everything just twirling in my brain. After that, I walked into the real estate office and talked to Raina and said “I don’t know if I want to live here, work here, or do both. I can’t figure it out. Can I do it?” and she helped me work it all out. Here I am.

What do you love the most about Serenbe?

The nature drew me in. I can walk in my backyard and find horses, pigs, donkeys… I just love that. I love the people and it really does feel like everyone is one big family. Everyone helps each other and I feel like I have mingled with so many different groups. Oh, and don’t forget about my dog Sophie… she’s very happy too.

 

When did you move to Serenbe?

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GEMMIE dayrit

When did you move to Serenbe?

I moved here officially in October, but I’ve known about Serenbe since three or four years ago because my friend rented a house for the summer and we would come here every other weekend. Six of us would come out here and just hang out in the house for the weekend, so that was my first introduction to Serenbe.

Where did you move from?

This is interesting – I actually haven’t lived anywhere for the last seven years of my life. I’ve been living in hotels literally for seven years, in Asia mostly. Everytime I came back to the states, I’d visit my friend who had bought a house here permanently. I came to a point in my life where I felt like it was time to have an address, I felt like I needed that. I’m way too old to be doing this! My friend said, “Why don’t you think about Serenbe?” and at the time I was thinking about New York, DC, or Paris because I could literally live anywhere with my work. But as soon as I came here, I loved it right away. When you travel all the time for work and are at a certain stage in your life and getting older, it’s harder to make friends and settle into a community. The feeling of community happened so quickly here, I was like, this is it. This is my tribe, I found my tribe. I’ve made friends – not just people you know, not just people you’re neighbors with – I mean friends. It’s priceless.

What do you love about Serenbe?

I mean I really like everything about it. When I’m not in Serenbe I’ll tell you what I miss. I miss being able to just jump out my door and go for a beautiful walk. I like how quiet it is. I like how when I go get coffee, I’ll know somebody. I’m not just somebody who just fell into a city and is observing – I am a part of this place. That is what I value. When you move here, you are a participant, not an observer.