Update - January 2006
Open meetings and membership.
The last year has been by far the busiest since we first started meeting over 5 years ago and there have been a number of exciting developments. Our membership has increased significantly since the last newsletter and we now have 14 fully paid-up members and over 90 guest members. This is largely due to a successful Open Meeting in October last year so we are having another one very soon. It will be on Friday 3rd February in St Pauls community room, Hills Road, Cambridge. Our major items of news are mentioned below but this meeting will be a chance for you to ask questions and have your say about what Enlinca does.
In rough chronological order the first significant event was a one day workshop on the Practice of Ancient Council led by Pippa Bondy in November 2004. Those who were able to attend found the techniques of active listening and speaking very useful.
Next was the first full UK Cohousing Conference held in Lancaster in February. Over 100 people attended and the enthusiasm and quality of the seminars was truely inspiring. Much valuable information was shared and some important contacts were made. This network of contacts is of great continuing importance for the progress of Cohousing in the UK and 3 Enlinca members have been active in a group that has been formed to promote the benefits of Cohousing at a national level.
Since everyone who attends our meetings is very concerned about the environment we joined the Permaculture Association.
In May we visited Pipewell where a couple have received planning permission in the very unlikely setting of a woodland. It was interesting to see how thorough presentation of a good case to the planners can succeed against the odds. Later in the year we visited Guilden Gate which presents a very similar story. www.guildengate.co.uk. Hockerton has always been an important source of inspiration for us and 4 members were able to visit it this summer. www.hockerton.demon.co.uk. Two members visited Stroud Cohousing and then attended a conference on community farm land trusts in the autumn and several individuals have been able to visit places like Findhorn.
In the past we visited a number of properties on sale that had the potential of being converted into a community. Last year our approach changed to concentrating on self-build options. Converting an existing building will always result in something where compromises have to be made, but in 2004 the chance of acquiring building land looked remote. However, in March we learned that the City Council were considering selling land they owned for sustainable development. This piece of news transformed the direction and level of our efforts. Together with the key pieces of knowledge just gained at Lancaster it finally looked like a new-build community was within sight. Negotiations with the Council and supporting activities have been the principle focus of our activities ever since. We have made significant progress in winning the support of various key people in the Council but a number of logistic issues still need to be addressed.
The prospect of getting land motivated us to spend much more time on various recruitment campaigns. We have had stalls at Strawberry Fair, The Trumpington Allotments Open Day and the Green Fairs in St Neots and Bury St Edmunds. Thanks to all who donated their time to these events. A new leaflet was prepared and has been a useful promotion aid.
The web site, www.enlinca.org.uk, remains an important source of publicity that has helped us increase membership and it has recently been joined by a twin website www.enlinca.co.uk. The national Cohousing website has also recently been completely overhauled and is now at www.cohousing.org.uk. It was mentioned in a recent article in The Guardian which resulted in a lot of people consulting it and an estimated immediate boost of 3 people to Enlinca’s membership.
A news article about us was included in Permaculture Works magazine, Robert gave a presentation about Enlinca to a group of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Liz Serocold presented a lecture about Cohousing to the University of the Third Age.
Five of us were given an inspiring presentation of architectural possibilities by MGM Architects. Members from Cohousing groups in Diss (First Futures) and Norwich (Amber) were also invited and hopefully this will lead to continued collaboration between all parties and maybe lead to links with a Housing Association.
National Cohousing promotion group
This month three of our members attended a meeting of the group that are working to promote Cohousing at a national level. It was decided that this group should formally create a charity and raise funding to get a paid worker who can lobby Government and promote Cohousing to all relevant bodies. We see this as very important for the future of Enlinca, and other groups like us around the country, because there are many barriers holding us back. Cohousing has been shown by the Danes to be an excellent way of living and the barriers to our progress need to be broken down before the numerous people in the UK interested in this way of living can realise their ambitions.
Read the previous newsletter here.