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MY BIG IDEA

Aerial overview of the Earthsong eco-neighbourhood in Auckland (Photo: Warner Brothers)

What is your big idea? Co-housing, a self-designed community concept utilised in much of the world, has roots in the interdependent communities of New Zealand’s past, but I and others think it holds a solution to the housing issues of our country today. Co-housing changes the dynamic around the way our homes are conceived, and how the neighbours form their friendships and co-operation even before they live next door to each other. There is no developer other than those who are going to live there, so the costs are reasonable and the village atmosphere is easily achieved. This has much to offer many Kiwi families facing the stress of large mortgages and estranged neighbours. How does it work? Different co-housing projects will adopt varying construction styles, but they all have something in common to make it ‘co-housing’: 1. We build the community all at the same time to reap the economy of scale. 2. We build in a style that anticipates mingling in central areas, kids playing and a mix of shared and private space. 3. Some infrastructure is shared and assets that usually have to be owned and maintained by individuals. We may need one mower, perhaps centralised laundry, even shared spare bedrooms in the community building. Many things can perhaps be afforded much more easily in your cohousing group. This is not a commune, however. Each family/person has their

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THE CO-HOUSING SOLUTION Denmark, perhaps the happiest country in the world, is also a world leader in co-housing. A coincidence? Jace Hobbs thinks not and this month expands on Nelson’s co-housing movement.

own home, own private space, so can choose their community involvement. What is happening locally? While Denmark, Auckland and Dunedin lead the way, Nelson region is a perfect match for co-housing and we are getting great participation at our events. We have modelled our finance structure around other successful co-housing communities, and have learned from their experience. We are riding a wave of co-housing success, so the concept itself is not my ‘big idea’. We are proponents of cohousing benefits, and want this for ourselves and others. Nelson Co-housing has developed past three organising meetings. Our first community cohousing project focuses on four important qualities: Affordability (comparatively to market conditions). Price, biking access to Nelson, and other factors are considerations in this first project. Security. Each person/family owns their own home and can sell it at any point. Sustainability. Modest size and shared

infrastructure. Diversity. This aspect is perhaps the most interesting. We want young families, retired but active seniors, and a broad range of backgrounds and ethnicity to be a part our unique living situation. We are not escaping to age and ethnic sameness – we are welcoming diversity. How do people become involved? Nelson Co-housing is looking for two things to make our community a reality: suitable land spots, both urban and rural; another initial land purchase partner so that the land can be bought and other families can get their financing. Will co-housing solve the home ownership problem? It can make a significant contribution towards that end. Kiwi families deserve no less. Find us at nelsoncohousing.co.nz Podcast: radionz.co.nz/news/national/342391/ co-housing-an-alternative-to-the-quarteracre-dream

Profile for WildTomato

Wild Tomato December 2017  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.c...

Wild Tomato December 2017  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.c...