Sunday 4 October 2015

K1 community-building round the campfire

Camping and glorious autumn weather don’t usually go together in the same sentence. But
muddy wellies were nowhere in sight as the sun shone down on us all in the Cambridgeshire

Thirty or so of us Cambridge Cohousing members of all ages had converged on the lovely
Forest School camp near Haddenham for a community-building weekend (camping entirely

Clearly, we all have a common purpose as prospective cohousers and have been working
hard on the project together – but are we a community?

Not yet.

We don’t all know one another, some members don’t live locally and people have come on
board at different times.

So it was a landmark event for us – the biggest gathering of K1 members to date. As well as
relaxing and enjoying ourselves, there was a really useful workshop led by Reverend Ruth.

What are our cohousing values?

In one of the workshop activities, each of us wrote down why we were attracted to cohousing
then spoke about it within a smaller group. Sharing, support, fun, neighbourliness, extended
family and reducing our environmental footprint were some of the themes that came up.

How will we communicate successfully and make decisions together?

In another interesting exercise, Ruth asked to think about our attitudes to conflict – attitudes
we’ve all probably inherited from childhood. Are we someone who avoids conflict? Or are we
OK at dealing with situations where people are disagreeing?

We were also asked to think about four different personality types and where we fit on the
spectrum. Maybe we like to analyse all possible information before deciding something, or
maybe we’re irritated by a lot of discussion and want to make quick decisions.

A useful technique Ruth told us about is The High Five. If there’s disagreement and it’s
proving hard to reach a decision, the idea is to get to a point where everyone can hold up at
least two fingers – meaning “I don’t love it but I can live with it.”

To be exchanging big ideas, hopes and dreams in a workshop circle, then later to be sitting
around the campfire, eating, chatting and enjoying ourselves – it all felt like an enticing
glimpse of the future.

This is how it could be – WILL be – once K1 is built.