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Cohousing: balancing environmental and social sustainability?
i. about me and about cohousing
ii. about governance issues
iii. group discussion exercise
iv. reflection and plenary discussion
Cohousing: balancing environmental
and social sustainability?
for SR+ Lancaster 2015-06-11
● physics and philosophy graduate
● cog sci PhD; lecturing; training; research
● helped develop web-based skills profiling tool
● learning technology interoperability with CETIS
● electronic portfolios (book); competence, etc.
● co-operation; collaboration; governance
● family joined LCH in September 2013
About me – Simon Grant
About Lancaster Cohousing – LCH
"Cohousing is a housing development that balances the
advantages of home ownership with the benefits of
shared common facilities and connections with your
neighbours. ... designed to encourage both social contact
and individual space, and are organised, planned and
managed by the residents themselves.
Private homes contain all the features of conventional
homes, but residents also have access to a common
house with shared facilities such as a dining room, a
children's playroom, workshops and laundry. Resident
cooked dinners are often available in the common house
for those who wish to participate."
Early parts of The LCH Vision
"We plan to create an intergenerational cohousing
community at Forge Bank, Halton that will
encourage social interaction and will be built on
ecological values. ... The project will be a cutting
edge example of sustainable design and living."
(Note that there has been a lot of discussion since then,
including diverse ideas, and differing views on the extent to
which the founding vision should be defended.)
From about page (above): "organised, planned
and managed by the residents themselves"
Articles of Association: "first, the General Meeting
shall endeavour to arrive at a decision by
consensus, by which is meant that all those
present and entitled to vote (in person or by
proxy) are in agreement with a proposal or agree
not to maintain an objection to it"
● assumption of consensus basis everywhere
Governance-related LCH issues
● large project; initial concern to sell all the
homes led to inclusion of diverse members
● surface similarities; but more deeply pluralist
● do differing outlooks and views mean that we
need to spend ages in meetings?
● balance of participation and time efficiency?
● is taking the time to fully talk out issues really a
luxury that may not be sustainable?
Governance example issue 1
● position and layout restricts parking space
● “ecological values” suggests reducing cars
● both car pool and shared private cars
● does everyone look after cars similarly?
● what if an owner is not happy with a user?
● can we imagine the issues that could surface?
● (call out brief responses)
Governance example issue 2
● sharing meals seen as “community glue”, so
obligation is built in to membership
● imagined as time-saving (debateable)
● different principles, preferences, allergies,
intolerances, requirements, tastes
● some would like to share every day, others not
● what should be obligatory, and how to decide?
● (call out brief responses)
Deeper issue 3
● personal safety comes up (unexpected to me)
● discomfort in "normal" society – opting “out”?
● seeking safety in community of shared values
● relevant to resilience needs in future society?
● but what happens when the preconditions of
different people feeling safe are incompatible?
● may safety for one be suffocation for another?
A live exercise for you (not LCH)
● spend about 3 minutes on your own fixing on
relevant research you might like to follow up on
● divide into groups of 3 or 4
● imagine that the group had the resources for
just one research investigation in this area
● in 10 minutes or so please come up with an
agreed view of what would be the most
valuable to tackle, and why
● (don't take this as a realistic for LCH – they can be shy!)
● the direct answers?
● what about the process?
● answers + process?
● how much depends on the people involved …
● … and their (shared) values?
● do people agree on issues worth investigating?
My own thoughts include:
● the nature of sustainable/resilient governance
● seeking more time-efficient processes
● Glaister's model of sensory/executive function
● distributed specialised curation of resources
● developing consensus governance values
● personal resilience and personal safety
● personal development for resilience
● I'm currently independent of any academic
institution, but continue working closely with
long-established CETIS colleagues
● delighted to consider participation in research
or development (self or CETIS)
● I'm looking for an institution which would value
my input to research and potential publications
● wide open to discussing co-authorship
many thanks for your attention!
(or search for “asimong” anywhere)