Co-housing and Social Enterprise at the Centre

In imagining possibilities for the Centre, Wilf Bean, Trudy Watts, Ron Kelly, Wyanne Sandler, Charlotte Campbell and Ann Manicom began with the idea of cohousing on a portion of the land at the Tatamagouche Centre. And as we brainstormed, the ideas grew into thoughts about all of the land becoming a land trust with a range of social enterprises. We decided to post our thoughts on this blog, to connect with other ongoing  conversations.

So first, we offer preliminary thoughts on the Cohousing idea. And then we sketch thoughts on a Land Trust model.

Cohousing Co-Op Model

Cohousing is a type of “intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space and facilities. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a small kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, child care, guest rooms and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers. Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces.”

Benefits to the Centre of a cohousing project on a portion of Centre land around one of the exsting houses:

  • The purchase of Stevens House (for example) provides immediate cash
  • The ownership of property is kept within the Centre community
  • The values and design principles of cohousing fit with Centre’s values
  • The work (creating the cooperative, seeking investors, design etc) is done by a separate entity (i.e. not Centre staff or Board)

How it might work:

A new Co-op Housing group purchases Stevens (or Reid) House and surrounding land.  (Stevens House land extends to the river and to Rte 6). Money to do this would be raised by the Co-op. (One suggestion is that 40 investors @$5,000 could raise $200,000:  $150,000 of it as purchase price, with the remaining $50,000 for urgent repairs following the purchase, and for some development funds.)  This stage could happen quite quickly, perhaps within a 2-3 month period.  (Note – our thought was that the investors would be just that – not necessarily the people who would ultimately become owners/leasers of the co-housing units, but rather people willing to put forward funds to keep the land and house in the hands of people associated with the Centre. )

Over two years, a Cohousing Co-op Planning Group would

  • Administer repairs and/or rental of the current house (income generation for the co-housing project), pay taxes etc
  • Initiate design process with professionals, develop governance model and financial agreements for the cohousing cooperative
  • Outreach to prospective residents
  • Involve prospective residents with professionals in cohousing design, which might include Stevens House as the common building
  • Communicate with investors
  • Begin building for first occupancies

Land Trust and Social Enterprises Model

A Land Trust model would encompass all property and buildings.

It would be administered by a new entity/board

The various social enterprises would share land and buildings, and could include:

  • Programming Collective
  • Partner groups
  • Hosting Services
  • Co-housing on some portion of the land
  • Food Catering enterprise that provides services to Land Trust events (as well as to wider North Shore community
  • Market Gardening that sells to other Land Trust enterprises and to the wider North Shore community
  • Health and Wellness Enterprise that provides a range of services to Land Trust events (eg massage during retreat programs) as well as to wider local community
  • Administration (grounds and property maintenance) – could sell services to Land Trust enterprises (eg Cohousing) as well as to wider local community

Benefits to the Centre of a Land Trust and Social Enterprise model:

  • A Land Trust encompasses the entire property and buildings, leaving the land base intact
  • The newly-formed entity of a Land Trust (and the social enterprises that develop within it) allows the transformative work of the Tatamagouche Centre to continue
  • Each enterprise shares vision and core values of the Tatamagouche Centre, i.e. rooted in social justice, spirituality and ecological integrity AND each is connected to the local community
  • Each enterprise is financially self-sustaining, yet interdependent with other enterprises. Programming would be supported by hosting and fund-raising revenues, as well as possible contractual contributions from the other social enterprises. It is potentially a financially sustainable model of continuing the work of T.C., embodied within each of the enterprises



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