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Eco-villages and co-housing

Posted by Mark Snell 
I am interested in hearing from anyone willing to contribute to a workshop on the topic of Eco-Villages and Co-Housing to be held at Ourimbah campus on Sunday, June 29, organised by the Central Coast Community Environment Network.

Rural eco-villages and urban co-housing projects differ from most residential developments in that their focus is usually environmental. They comprise groups of people who have come together specifically to work collectively to create an environmentally-sustainable lifestyle.

These are people who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. This is manifest in practices which commonly include ecological design and building, permaculture, alternative energy and technology, and the conscious use of community-building practices.

The workshop will be conducted in the framework of the constraints and opportunities for establishing such communities on the Central Coast. It will be quite literally about building communities - in architectural terms, as well as in the social, environmental and economic senses.

Themes covered will include:

* Environmental sustainability - combining building design with collaboration between residents to provide greater opportunities to implement environmental practices

* Affordable housing - designed for living rather than for investment and resale

* Urban and rural planning and design - Community-initiated rural and urban residential development to address population pressures

* Intentional community - A self-help approach to provide social and cultural structures to meet psycho-social needs based around social interaction, cooperation and change

* Affordable lifestyles - providing time for people to enjoy a better quality of life, to be more engaged in socially-useful activities in the wider community

* Community economic activity - community-based income-producing opportunities

The day will be structured with information sessions drawing on existing examples to illustrate principles, objectives and practicalities, while the afternoon sessions will provide the opportunity for participants to collectively design an urban co-housing project or a rural eco-village.

While the day is designed to be a self-contained workshop (an end in itself), I am hoping that it will provide the impetus to establish an eco-village and/or co-housing project on the Central Coast.

Priced at $15 for the day, or $8 if you bring a plate of lunch to share, it should be affordable for most people.

Anyone willing to contribute material relevant to the themes of the workshop should get in touch with me directly at mark.snell@openwindows.com to make arrangements.


Mark Snell
Woy Woy NSW
Re: Eco-villages and co-housing
June 25, 2003 06:06PM
Dear Mark,
I am very interested in attending your workshop. Could you please send me more information on time and place. I am working on a similar project myself in building an International Cultural Village in Newtown and Wollongong. Maybe me may be able to help each other in this respect. Unfortunately I am preparing to go overseas shortly leaving little time to prepare a few notes for the workshop.Cheers, Brian
Hi Mark,

I realise I am 5 years too late for this workshop, but I am wondering if you know of a cohousing group in the Newcastle region.

Kind Regards,Karla
The only co-housing or eco-village group of which I am aware in the Newcastle area is the Wrenwood Urban Eco-village project.

The development application for this comes before Newcastle Council next Tuesday night. I understand that planning staff have recommended its approval.

Theirs is not a co-housing project as such, but a strata title development on an urban block of 6760 square metres in the Newcastle suburb of Shortland.

I think there are about 20 units of a variety of designs, as well as a community education centre, as part of the development.

Members of Wrenwood are associated with the Hunter Permaculture group and their eco-village design employs a range of Permaculture principles to achieve a reduced environmental footprint.

On the Central Coast, where the workshop was held, there are several other groups active at present.

While none of these would describe themselves as co-housing, they all can be described as community-based neighbourhood development projects. All are still in the planning stage.

The groups include Karalta Rd Home Park Owners, Sydney Coastal Eco-Viillage and Equilibrium Community Ecology, each representing quite different approaches.

Karalta Rd Park Home Owners is a group of manufactured home park residents who plan to form a co-operative to own and operate their own home park.

Sydney Coastal Eco-Village is currently investigating a rural property near Gosford for a community title development.

Equilibrium Community Ecology was formed following the workshop. It is planning to establish a community, primarily for owner-builders, with both land and houses owned through a registered co-operative.

Equilibrium's plans feature clustered housing. One or more of these clusters are likely to use a co-housing approach.

In addition to these groups, I am aware of a resident-owned caravan park and an informal multi-person household which describes itself as a community and has many of the features of co-housing.

Finally, it is never too late!

Sydney Coastal Eco-Village Group is running a workshop on Sunday, March 30, from 10am to 4.30pm at the Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre, with Permaculturalist Robina McCurdy from New Zealand on the topic of Cultivating Sustainable Communities and Ecovillages. Download the flyer at [www.scev.org].

It is also quite likely that Equilibrium will run a workshop later this year about co-operative home ownership, looking at issues facing eco-villages, co-housing projects and other intentional communities.

Feel free to contact me to discuss this further.

All the best

Mark Snell
02 4342 5333
Re: Eco-villages and co-housing
April 21, 2009 08:47PM
I was wondering if you had an update on the Newcastle project. I have done a lot of searching on the internet and this is the most up to date info I could find. Do you know how things went with council? Do you know how we can contact those involved in the project.

Are you running any more workshops.

Newcastle City Council voted unanimously, and without debate, to approve the DA for the Wrenwood Permaculture EcoVillage on 11 Mar 2008.

I will provide contact details privately.

Yes, I may run another intentional communities workshop later this year.

All the best

could you please email me with regard to a possible meeting regarding a similar project I am planning in the Hunter.
Hi Mark,

Itoo am interestedin this whole concept and would be please to receive information on current and completed co-housing options.

Regards Dianne
Hi we are also thinking of starting up a co housing scheme in Sydney north shore we would love to know about any schemes and or information evenings that could steer us in the right direction..
Hi everyone.

I had limited involvement with the Wrenwood Permaculture Village in Shortland. I also am interested in promoting my shared housing concepts for affordable housing. I too would like to hear about any new initiatives happening lately.
Re: Eco-villages and co-housing
October 04, 2009 11:44AM
Hi Elaine,
We live in Berowra and are interested in starting/joining a cohousing group too. Which part of the north shore do you live? I know its probably jumping ahead a bit in the planning process, but I know of a possible site at Mt. Kuringai - is that too far from your planned area? Anyway, you're welcome to email me at r_middlecoat@hotmail.com if you are interested in contacting me.
Hi Elaine, Rosa and whoever else is interested, I am also interested in starting a co-housing project somewhere fairly close to the city but also near the bush, I was thinking around Berowra area or Bundeena or maybe the lower Blue Mountains, (I am open to any other ideas for places). If anyone is interested feel free to contact me, my email is rowena_blackurn@hotmail.com.
Thanks, Rowena
Just realised there is a mistake in my email address above, it is rowena_blackburn@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Rowena
Re: Eco-villages and co-housing
November 27, 2009 11:18PM
yes please let me know when you have another workshop of this kind
i would like to attend
Hi Everyone,

Further to Elaine's comment, the Sydney Cohousing group meets regularly (about weekly) in the Lane Cove area with the intention of buying land in 2010 somewhere in the Lane Cove/Willoughby/Ryde/Kuring Gai areas. We are documenting our progress on a blog


I think cohousing is such a great way to live (grew up at Cascade Cohousing in Hobart) and I fully encourage anyone who is considering starting a group. Go for it!

If you'd like to find out more about our group just email me as we are currently scouting for interested members.

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