Sunday 26 November 2017

Creating our “Village”

A recent trip to participate in a learning day at the Older Women’s Cohousing development (OWCH) in Barnet gave me food for thought. After moving in last year, the group are about to celebrate 12 months of cohousing. But with just 25 properties it’s a reasonably close group of women over 55years. We will have a very different dynamic!
So, musing on our challenges, K1 at Marmalade Lane will be a settlement more akin to a small village hamlet of around 100 neighbours, parachuted into Orchard Park. Our multigenerational model means that we will know and encounter lots of differing experiences and attitudes despite our overarching commitment to cohousing, community and sustainable (with a small s) living. This leads to an expectation of enrichment that is unlikely to be encountered in a “normal” development where familiarity with your wider neighbours is very unlikely.

“Chewing the fat” (veggie of course!) over regular community meals, working cooperatively to maintain our Common House and gardens, managing our service charges and finances together, will create the glue for our relationships.

Pragmatically, we know that all will not be “sweetness and light” so we have put together community agreements that will help us navigate the challenges; but there is no doubt this will be an evolving process as time goes by.

Personally, I have already found the experience enriching and challenging. Over the last four years it’s been no mean feat for the group to get to this great outcome; five months of building work under the belt! There have been challenges on the way - work within the confines of consensus decision making, constantly recruit new members, saying goodbye to those who were unable to wait, or afford the Cambridge prices, learning to work with a development partner and trying to stay “cool” when planning took so long! But the patience and persistence of our members has all been worth it.
Move in day in June 2018 will be fun, possibly chaotic, but a huge achievement!

Can’t wait for the party!

Jan Chadwick