Member Profile: Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson at a pro-life demo in Cambridge
Me and my partner Ailsa. Photo by Hamish Downer.

Member Profile: Chris Wilson

I’m 34 years old and I work for a local non-profit software company.

Living in Cambridge

I’ve been living in Cambridge for 15 years (since 1997) and I’ve been renting all that time. I really wanted to buy a modern, energy-efficient house in Cambridge, but I’ve never been able to afford it.

I don’t want to live in the villages because I have friends here, I value my social life, public transport is poor and I don’t want to have to drive to work because of the cost and environmental impact. I walk everywhere and I don’t own a car.

Why Cohousing

I’ve been interested in cohousing for several years, but it always seemed out of reach. There are only a few cohousing communities in the UK. I have friends living in Argyll Street Housing Co-op and other housing associations, and I appreciate the unique benefits that they derive from living in a community.

LILAC Cohousing in Leeds
LILAC Cohousing in Leeds

At the same time, I see the problems they have in persuading members to take part in community activities and decision-making. The most active and enthusiastic members get burned out and disheartened. and I’m keen to ensure that we don’t have those problems in K1.

Designing my Home and Community

Few of us are lucky enough to be able to design our own houses. It’s rare that a plot comes up, it’s almost always on the edge of town or in a village, financing self-build is very difficult, and organising and planning it is expensive and time-consuming. And we have even less choice about our neighbours and community in those rare cases when self-build is possible.

Spring Hill Cohousing in Stroud
Spring Hill Cohousing in Stroud

K1 for me is a rare and very special opportunity to get a house that’s what I want: it may not be absolutely perfect for me, because the design will be a compromise with the other members. But on the flip side, it will be a lot cheaper: we all save money by agreeing common designs, and sharing design and build costs.

We get help from experts and from each other in creating great designs with many lifetimes of combined experience. We share knowledge and ideas on environmentally and community friendly designs.

We get to share resources that we don’t need all the time, such as spare rooms, laundry facilities and workshops. We get access to facilities that otherwise we’d never have: a large meeting room and kitchen for parties, friend and watching films, large gardens, a¬†conservatory or a roof garden, a car club, maybe even a pet club.

Hockerton, Notts, Inside
Hockerton, Notts, Inside

We get to design our own community, choose our neighbours, and develop a good relationship with them. And we get to design the legal entity which protects our common interests and investments in the community. I’m particularly excited that we’ve agreed to run by consensus, which will avoid marginalising any member.

Flexible Design for Life

By taking part in the design and building of the houses and the community, I hope to help create a space where I will be happy to live for the rest of my life, including hopefully having a family one day, and through old age, when I hope that others will be willing to support me, as I hope to support others while I can. Cohousing is well known in Scandinavia as an ideal way of living for older people, more supportive and friendly than private, sheltered or retirement housing.

Please Join Us

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If this appeals to you too, I strongly encourage you to get involved now. We need more people to join our community:

  • to take part in the design process over the next three months (April to June 2013);
  • to make the space your own, and share your ideas and experience with us;
  • to create the community and choose your neighbours while you can;
  • to help spread the word about this rare opportunity to all who might benefit most from it;
  • to get a discount on all our houses by guaranteeing more sales to the developers, reducing their risk.

Taking part in this community is an experience that I promise you will enjoy and learn from, even if you decide that you cohousing is not for you.


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