Co-Living, Co-Housing, Intentional Communities and Ecovillages

Noble Peace > Community > Co-Living, Co-Housing, Intentional Communities and Ecovillages

“Everyone who happens to be going in the same direction is welcome.” 

The Noble Peace Tribe has experienced more than a year of traveling around Ecuador on a trip to find company, location, shared vision and ourselves. From these experiences being volunteers of different projects of Edible Forests and Experimental Techniques of Agroforestry, and occasionally taking care of homes and pets, we have created this website.

We are in the stage of getting a group of people together who have a higher goal than just community itself to create a sufficiently but not overly complicated legal structure for a joint living and working project. 

At the same time, we are being very intentional about building the culture of the group so that our values underlying the culture and legal structure are in synch, and work on it from the early stage to make sure that all of this will be solid enough to outlive the founders: Succession planning is a topic we need to keep looking at on every stage. 

The Noble Peace Tribe(s) will design, build and live in a co-housing design (private rooms and shared spaces in health-animal-planet-friendly homes) located in commuting distance to downtown center to nearby urban settings, or even within developed cities.

Co-housing as a way of living, where the residents are actively taking part in the development of their own shared housing environment, is growing rapidly internationally.

To make this possible, the psychodemographic factor and the rise of new cultures are essential to support and boost this way of life: promoting sustainable practices such as extensive recycling, organic (emphasizing veganic approaches) gardening and composting, including humanure composting, permaculture, bicycle and public transportation use, vehicle sharing, and rainwater and solar energy harvesting.

Financially, we would include a cooperative rental model for our housing, similar to the pioneering co-housing groups in Denmark. More on that down below.

The “Private Sufficiency and Public Luxury” Idea

There is not enough physical or environmental space for everyone to enjoy private luxury: if everyone in London acquired a tennis court, a swimming pool, a garden and a private art collection, the city would cover England. Private luxury shuts down space, creating deprivation. But magnificent public amenities – wonderful parks and playgrounds, public sports centres and swimming pools, galleries, allotments and public transport networks – create more space for everyone at a fraction of the cost.

Wherever possible, such assets should be owned and managed by neither state nor market, but by communities, in the form of commons. A commons in its true form is a non-capitalist system in which a resource is controlled in perpetuity by a community for the shared and equal benefit of its members. A possible model is the commons transition plan commissioned by the Flemish city of Ghent.

Land value taxation also has transformative potential. It can keep the income currently siphoned out of our pockets in the form of rent – then out of the country and into tax havens – within our hands. It can reduce land values, bringing down house prices. While local and national government should use some of the money to fund public services, the residue can be returned to communities.

Couple this with a community right to buy, which enables communities to use this money to acquire their own land, with local commons trusts that possess powers to assemble building sites, and with a new right for prospective buyers and tenants to plan their own estates, and exciting things begin to happen. This could be a formula for meeting housing need, delivering public luxury and greatly enhancing the sense of community, self-reliance and taking back control. It helps to create what I call the politics of belonging.

But it doesn’t stop there. The rents accruing to commons trusts could be used to create a local version of the citizens’ wealth funds (modelled on the sovereign wealth funds in Alaska and Norway) proposed by Angela Cummine and Stewart Lansley. The gain from such funds could be distributed in the form of a local basic income.

And the money the government still invests? To the greatest extent possible, I believe it should be controlled by participatory budgeting. In the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, the infrastructure budget is allocated by the people: around 50,000 citizens typically participate. The results – better water, sanitation, health, schools and nurseries – have been so spectacular that large numbers of people now lobby the city council to raise their taxes. When you control the budget, you can see the point of public investment.

In countries such as the UK, we could not only adopt this model, but extend it beyond the local infrastructure budget to other forms of local and even national spending. The principle of subsidiarity – devolving powers to the smallest political unit that can reasonably discharge them – makes such wider democratic control more feasible.

All this would be framed within a system such as Kate Raworth’s 
doughnut economics, which instead of seeking to maximise growth sets a lower threshold of wellbeing, below which no one should fall, and an upper threshold of environmental limits that economic life should not transgress. A participatory economics could be accompanied by participatory politics, involving radical devolution and a fine-grained democratic control over the decisions affecting our lives.

Taken from the Opinion piece How Labour could lead the global economy out of the 20th century, by George Monbiot – a Guardian columnist

From Trees’ Circular Economy Model To Co-Living Tree-Based Housing Projects

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Simplified “circular economy model” of trees
taken from Earthship Biotecture Academy, Tres Piedras, NM, USA

Properly managed forests, with adjacent integrated forest industries, could be the regional centres of rings of self-­reliant village communities. Modern communication technology would prevent isolation and facilitate global cooperation. Such developments would both require and foster fundamental changes in human values and habits and lead to an era of abundance, peace and spiritual evolution.

The great advantage of the tree based culture is that trees of carefully selected species can be grown in most habitable areas of the world to meet human needs locally in a sustainable manner. Apart from the enormous saving of the fuel, labour and materials that now transport goods backwards and forwards across the world, such local resources will facilitate the functioning of self­-reliant village communities. Such communities will be large enough to provide sufficient reserves of human skills and enlightenment for the whole to function smoothly, and small enough for each individual member to feel that he or she has an essential part to play in the whole, that her or his contribution is valuable and valued. Face to face democracy will function, with decisions affecting the village community reached by consensus.

Taken from ABUNDANT LIVING in the coming age of the tree,
by Kathleen Jannaway (pdf)

I picture village communities of the future in valleys protected by trees on the high ground. They would have fruit and nut orchards, live free from disease and enjoy leisure, liberty and justice for all living with a sense of oneness with the earth and all living things. The accomplishment of this will assure, not only the perpetuation of the forests through intelligent use, but also the regeneration of the very spirit of man.

St Barbe Baker 1970

Resiliency: The Link Between Forests and Urban Settlements

In the humble opinion of The Noble Peace Tribe, sustainability and replicability MUST go together. We have heard people saying that when in doubt of what is sustainable, it is helpful to ask yourself “Can I do this forever?

We would say it is necessary to rephrase that question this way: “Could almost 8 billion people on planet Earth do forever the same thing that I am doing?

From an angle of sustainability, we present the following context for the urban settlements yet to come:

World Cities Day 2018 focuses on building urban resilience as defined by UN-Habitat below:

Urban Resilience is the measurable ability of any urban system, with its inhabitants, to maintain continuity through all shocks and stresses, while positively adapting and transforming toward sustainability. A Resilient City assesses, plans and acts to prepare and respond to hazards—natural and human-made, sudden and slow-onset, expected and unexpected—in order to protect and enhance people’s live, secure development gains, foster an environment for investment, and drive positive change.

Major challenges to resilience include economic, environmental, cultural, civic and disaster mitigation and recovery.

Taken from the Concept Note of the UN World Cities Day 2018 on Building sustainable and resilient cities (pdf, p.1)

Resilience through small self-sufficient, intentional communities

Definition by the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)

At a time when — every day — we’re losing 200,000 acres of rainforest “lungs,” we’re spewing a million tons of toxic waste into the atmosphere, and 45,000 people die of starvation every day, living simply, cooperating, and sharing resources with others may be the only way of life that makes any sense.

“Small, independent, self-sufficient communities have the greatest ability to survive the normal cycles of boom-and-bust which our economy and culture go through, and an even better chance of surviving the major catastrophes which may loom ahead as our oil supply dwindles,” writes Thom Hartmann in his book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight.

What better place than intentional communities to downsize possessions, share ownership of land and tools, grow healthy food, share meals, make decisions collaboratively, and together create the kind of culture that nourishes our children as they grow up, and ourselves as we grow older? And what better place than intentional communities to show the rest of the world that even hyper-mobile North Americans can choose to live this way?

Diana Leafe Christian,
“Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities‘ (p. xviii)

What is co-living?

“Co-living is the term for a living arrangement in which three or more biologically unrelated people share a common residential structure.”

“Co-working. Ride-sharing. Couch-surfing. It’s like everyday we are coming up with new ways to deal with the fact that living in a big city it can be expensive, lonely, at at times even soul-sucking. And the latest thing in this is co-living which takes sharing to a new extreme. I mean think about it, it’s one thing to share a ride; it’s quite another thing to live with a group of total strangers in what is basically a dorm for millennials. But believe it or not, this is not a new idea. People have been living like this all over Northern Europe since the late sixties”. Intro to “One Shared House”

Examples of co-living models

This Brilliant German Housing Model Is the Sharing Economy at Its Best

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Today more than half of the world’s seven billion people live in big cities and the United Nations estimates that by 2030 that will climb to 60 percent.

If our urban planners don’t find a way to match supply with rising demand, the cultural and economic capitals that we revere risk becoming pressure cookers for unprecedented poverty, gentrification, high costs of living, and a larger gap between the rich and the poor.

But in Germany, communities and architects have been working together for decades as part of a progressive urban housing and planning scheme that might provide an answer to these imminent problems.

Taken from German Collective Housing, Good

Co-housing communities help prevent social isolation (and the detrimental health effects associated with it)

Short documentary about Saetedammen and Rocky Hill Cohousing, two intergenerational co-housing communities in Denmark and the US

Social isolation relates to the number of (religious, community, work) ties and the quality of relationships that you have. Very isolated and disconnected people have a mortality rate that’s about three times as high as people who have many, many more ties. Living with younger people also helps older generations to keep younger.

Moreover, cohousing allows aging people to stay in their homes – as most of them prefer – and young families to maintain social networks as they juggle work and family, says Harvard Professor Lisa Berkman.

Click here to read the full story

Co-Living and Happiness

The idea of sharing is increasingly popular, as it could be a viable step towards moving away from a consumer culture.
As explained on this “Happy” Documentary Clip about Co-Housing in Denmark.

Smaller homes save construction materials and energy for heating and cooling, and sharing items means less consumption of non-renewable resources.

Sharing things is an easy step towards veering away from a consumer culture, as it is does not give up consumerism entirely yet, but it’s a good stepping stone as people share things and ultimately gain more benefit than having these items alone.

Taken from Co-Housing and Happiness, on Rethinking Prosperity

Co-living Communities Can Be Designed for Longevity and Wellbeing

Today, a community of about 9,000 Adventists in the Loma Linda area are the core of America’s Blue Zone region. They live as much as a decade longer than the rest of us, and much of their longevity can be attributed to vegetarianism and regular exercise. Plus, Adventists don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Loma Linda, California – Blue Zones
A group of Americans living 10 years longer

TRIBE: Co-Living With Intergenerational, Diverse Yet Like-Minded People

Imagine getting your friends together, pooling your money, and building a rad apartment building tailored precisely to your needs. Units would come in different sizes and configurations, depending on what each family wants, and shared community spaces, such as a library or indoor garden, could also be added to the floorplan, depending on the group’s interests.

Taken from Curbed: Could This German Affordable Homebuilding Plan Be a Model for the U.S.?

Co-housing for affordable living in customized units

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Baugruppe building in Vienna, Austria: Located somewhere between a condo and a hippy commune, this collective building model could help with the urban affordability crisis

Over the past 30 years, one of Germany’s most notable techniques to fight gentrification and make housing more affordable is the encouragement of Baugruppen or “building groups”. Baugruppen are citizen collectives who come together to privately design and develop their own self-financed apartment complexes.

Co-housing has also been on the rise in the UK, as an article in The Guardian illustrates: Totally together: could communal living suit you? – From self-sufficient communes to cohousing schemes, people are opting for a shared lifestyle.

Grønt nabofellesskap?!?!?! – Vegan cohousing in Norway

The name Grønt nabofellesskap can be translated to «Green Neighbour Community». It is a vegan cohousing community under planning in commuting distance to downtown Oslo. Cohousing as a way of living, where the residents are actively taking part in the development of their own shared housing environment, is growing rapidly internationally.

Why Copenhagen Residents Want to Live on Urban Gardens

“For several years now, David Skat Nielsen has been cultivating a 7,400-square-foot patch of land on the island of Amager, in the greater Copenhagen area. Here, he pays 900 DKK ($133 USD) per month to get away from the stresses of apartment living, plant some fruit trees, build a greenhouse, and generally bask in the stillness of a hedged-in green space. Due to zoning restrictions, he can only live on the property for six months of the year, but he’s part of a growing group of Danes that would like to make these minimalistic garden lots into full-time homes.”

Taken from Citylab

The New American Garden Is Edible

Homeowners and city officials say planting orchards is a way to both look good and do good.

When Fred Meyer decided to re-landscape a third of an acre plot on his Iowa City property, he wanted something more than just trees, ornamental bushes and ground cover.

“I created an edible forest,” says Mr. Meyer, explaining that, no, he won’t be dining on wood, leaves or grass. Instead, he planted a mix of fruit trees—cherry, peach and pear among them—and interspersed perennial flowering shrubs and fruit-producing plants, including blueberry bushes, that also help to feed birds, honeybees and butterflies.

By Ken Wells, Wall Street Journal

Ongoing Food Forest Community

The goal of the Beacon Food Forest is to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food and rehabilitate our local ecosystem. 

Join us to improve public health by regenerating our public land into an edible forest ecosystem. We work to reduce agricultural climate impact, improve our local food security, provide educational opportunities, and celebrate growing food for the benefit of all species. 

Taken from Beacon Food Forest

PLANTAGE Vegan · Organic · Farm

We grow vegetables organically and vegan, i. e. without livestock farming or the addition of animal products such as cow dung and manure.

Our aim is to use agricultural land to feed people, not animals. In this way, we want to cope with the population pressure of the coming decades. Agriculture without animal farming can reduce the per capita land consumption by 75%, creating space for reforestation.

With biovegan agriculture we pay attention to a healthy nutrient cycle and rely on clover grass to add nitrogen to the soil. Through composting we will sustainably stabilize and build up the humus layer.

We see it as our mission to increase the diversity of life through biovegan agriculture and to create new habitats for endangered species by releasing land.

Our vision is to promote biovegan agriculture globally to increase biodiversity and protect the climate.

We want to put an end to the exploitation of farm animals and to revitalise agricultural areas socio-economically. We want to distribute our vegetables mainly in the Berlin area, Brandenburg and East Germany.

Taken from PlantAge

The UN ‘s criteria for Sustainable Lifestyles

The vegan way of living usually covers what we eat, what we do for fun, and what we buy and use. These are pretty straight forward areas of action within the realm of veganism.

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Additionally to these criteria, the UN’s Sustainable Lifestyle also considers where we live and how we move around. Some people could argue that veganism also consider these last couple of lifestyle dimensions. E.g. Riding horses -which now fall more in the category of entertainment than it is for getting around (transportation). And “where we live” could be thought beyond rural or urban settings, i.e. how many cruelty-free furniture or building materials constitute what we call our homes.

Do NOT miss out this other section on The Noble Peace Tribe website about Vegan Way of Living
SDG 11 Synthesis Report

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Goal11, one of the 17 SDGs, is about all of these dimensions, with a specific focus on urban areas and settings. This synthesis report is the first publication showing the progress, challenges and opportunities of global monitoring of this SDG.

This report complements the 2018 Secretary-General’s Progress Report on SDGs, which shows progress in the form of story lines, and the 2018 Secretary-General’s first quadrennial report on progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

What is an Ecovillage?

Robert Gilman set out the following definition of an ecovillage in 1991 that became standard for many years:

“An ecovillage is a human-scale full-featured settlement in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, and can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.”

Recently the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) provided another definition:

“An ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate social and natural environments.”

While every ecovillage is unique, according to GEN all share 3 common practices:

  1. Being rooted in local participatory processes
  2. Integrating social, cultural, economic and ecological dimensions in a whole systems approach to sustainability
  3. Actively restoring and regenerating their social and natural environments

Typically ranging in size between 20 and 300 people,

And what is the difference between co-housing or co-living, intentional communities and ecovillages?

An intentional community describes a group of people who intentionally live together or share common facilities and co-create at least some of their social, economic, ecological and/or cultural relationships.