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Cohousing: balancing environmental and social sustainability?

Presentation given at Lancaster University SR+ group, 2015-06-11

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Cohousing: balancing environmental and social sustainability?

  1. 1. 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? Simon Grant for SR+ Lancaster 2015-06-11
  2. 2. Part I – about me and cohousing
  3. 3. ● 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
  4. 4. 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."
  5. 5. 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.)
  6. 6. Part II – issues with governance
  7. 7. LCH governance 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
  8. 8. 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?
  9. 9. 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)
  10. 10. 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)
  11. 11. 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?
  12. 12. Part III – discussion exercise
  13. 13. 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!)
  14. 14. Part IV – reflection and plenary discussion
  15. 15. Exercise outcomes ● 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?
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. ● 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 Research; publications?
  18. 18. many thanks for your attention! @asimong (or search for “asimong” anywhere)