10 February 2023
It has been a busy summer for the workshop team. Before Christmas, we presented three well attended Collab Skills Courses in the lower north island, primarily working with existing community projects and groups. Covid seems to have given humanity something of a back to the land 2.0 movement. The call to come together to support each other and organise for change is indeed compelling just now. Into the new year, we have started into the South Island workshop series with a very lively turnout for the Golden Bay event last weekend. The province has always been a hot bed of social initiative, with several mature land based communities actively piloting social and environmental technology. Takaka has its amazing community garden, a ground breaking 90 unit cohousing project whose construction is well underway, and several other bold new initiatives. We appreciate the support of the wonderful networkers of this world (you know who you are) helping us in the weeks ahead to bring this course to Nelson, Christchurch, (possibly Wellington), Auckland, and Whitianga. Along the way Peter and Sibylle have had so many fertile conversations with people working in this space, and look forward to many more. One thing that has been raised by workshop participants is a question about the relative significance of Polyvagal Theory to this work, and our answer is that it's the key that unlocks the door to collaboration. If you want to know what machine learning know about Polyvagal Theory, checkout this interesting interview the Big House Project had with OpenAI's new ChatGPT platform.
20 October 2022
So Sibylle and Peter have set off, they are taking our Collab skills course on a road trip, while the other members will hold the fort in Whangarei. We have collab dates for Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, and Wellington, and are open to suggestions for other venues. They are also super interested to meet people along the way, who are interested in the conscious connection narrative, so do please get in touch and we will see if we can arrange a meetup with you. For Aucklanders, who we unceremoniously neglected in the survey, we are in discussions around a April 2023 date for you all.
1 September 2022
So... life beyond the old hotel that inspired this project. As we had time to reflect, we realized that the big house is a metaphor, one that speaks to engaged collaboration, to us as a species turning toward each other, rather than away, as a response to the challenges that lie ahead. Consequently, we doubled down our efforts on the Collab Skills course, and in creating a market for this kind of community in NZ. We have now delivered the course half a dozen times this year, and have several confirmed dates for the spring. We also carried out a survey of our friends network, and as a result of the survey it appears that there is interest in various provinces throughout the country in this work. So there's a good chance that a Collab Skills Course will be coming to a town near you in the future. We would like to thank everyone who has supported the project this year.
20 April 2022
Unfortunately we were not successful at the Church Rd auction. We always understood that it would be a tall order to assemble a team from scratch, to purchase the old hotel in Kamo, in just 3 months. Community projects take time. Therefore it was with some sadness that we went into the auction without a big enough member base to have a good chance of being successful. And while the property market had cooled, there was a surprising amount of interest in the Church Road property, some with ambitions to demolish the building. We are glad to learn that the successful bidder does indeed plan to restore the building. Since April we have seen other properties and this gives us confidence that when we are ready the right property will come along. We also learned a valuable lesson that this country has a little way to go be ready for housing coops.
23 March 2022
So we have some news, the property that inspired this project is now for sale by auction. This means that time is now of the essence. We have a strong initiating group who have been meeting twice a week for the last three months, as well as a very productive 3 day beach retreat together. We believe that we now have a solid foundation, and combined with a shiny new membership procedure just ratified, that if/when we are successful at the auction, that a new generation of passionate members can be on-boarded. The last Collab had 12 participants, many of which are in various stages of exploring membership. If this project might be for you, or if you just want to help in some supportive role, we invite you to talk to us about the process and about opportunities to get involved. As for the auction, there is now some pressure to demolish this building, our dream is to do the right thing by this wonderful old heritage building, (and the archeological site), and to bring it back to its former glory. Wish us luck on Wednesday!
20 February 2022
We have received amazing feedback about the boldness and timeliness of The Big House Project. Last weekend, despite minimal promotion, 20 or so people attended our first Orientation. We showed slides of European projects, talked a bit about the Collab Skills Course, and answered questions about the Project. The initiating group has now completed the pilot Collab, and we are finding that the course provides a powerful grounding for project participation. If such close living and working together are possible then its because we have consciousness around the barriers we each have to connection, and skills to manage boundaries, needs and clear communication. We invite you to join us, now, so together we can birth this project into existence.
28 January 2022
Housing coops are starting to gain attention in NZ. See Common Ground, The Society for Coop Housing NZ, The Housing Innovation Society, Forever Affordable Homes, and Closer for some pretty active advocacy. In the media department see here, here and here. Of course if you really want an insight into the support available for housing coops overseas, checkout Cooperatives UK or International Coop Alliance. NZ has a ways to go, but hey, somebody has to pave a path.
14 January 2022
The Vision Booklet, after much work by the group, is complete and available for download, and the project website is almost there. The initiating circle are meeting twice a week to work mostly on the outreach and legal areas. We do already have some promising leads on suitable properties, and this is keeping us focused. There is a fair bit of excitement now :)
20 December 2021
A group of six got together to explore other ways to get people back on the land, back into community. We were faced with the choice of brand new ecovillage developments (involving millions of dollars, lots of resource use, and years of development), or tiny house villages (maybe quicker if we were willing to tolerate unresolved regulatory complications). We sensed that there was another way, one that empowered us to take a more active part in the process of project development, and that actually focused on the essence of community. The penny finally dropped while watching this group of ordinary British folk go about setting up a housing coop from a retrofitted larger existing house. So watch this space, while we put our dream on paper.