Living Cooperatively: Affordable Housing – Sustainable Development- a Swedish model – has aroused quite a bit of interest, and there were similar ideas on display at Melbourne’s Sustainable Living Festival. What’s happening in your state or territory?

Sustainable Living In Intentional Communities (SLIC) is a group auspiced by the Sustainable Living Foundation (SLF) as it works towards a society that includes:

  • Cohousing, where residents own their own home, but regularly share in community activities including common meals, centred around a community house. Cohousing communities are designed to address and encourage social interaction and reduce living expenses. Most dwellings are owned under separate title and can be easily bought and sold. Every house has its own kitchen and living area and often a private yard.
  • Rural & urban housing co-operatives, where all members have an equal share in all households but have the right to occupy (often through leasehold) their own house or unit. Houses are often spread out over separate suburban locations. All residents share in the responsibility for maintaining and running their household.
  • Communes, where the property and most resources are shared. There is less personal property and the emphasis and values are directed to sharing facilities and resources.
  • Ecovillages, where a community is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the environment. Often eco-villages are self-sustaining and promote/include eco-businesses including organic produce. They aim to ‘tread lightly’ on the planet.

VicUrban supports the SLF philosophy. Their approach is based on a balance of five core objectives:

* Commercial Success
* Community Well-being
* Housing Affordability
* Urban Design Excellence
* Environmental Leadership

Two Eco-Villages

1. MOORA MOORA COOPERATIVE

Established in the 1970s Moora Moora is a co-operative residential community made up of a diverse group of about 50 adults and 20 children. They deliberately choose to live together in six small hamlets located on a co-operatively owned 245 hectare (600 acre) property situated at an altitude of 700 meters (2400 feet) on Mount Toolebewong.

The community is situated near the township of Healesville, approximately 67 km (90 minutes by car) to the east of Melbourne.

Moora Moora Philosophy

“We are a group of people…some concerned with the noise, foul air, water and food of the city, and with our polluted environment…about the isolation and loneliness of suburban living, its increasingly high cost, the narrowness of the isolated nuclear family, the lack of community facilities and co-operative living. We regret the superficiality of our human relationships within the suburban street, living near neighbours we didn’t choose, the isolation of the non-working wife and the lack of continuous playmates for the children.

Others primarily concerned with education are dissatisfied with the alienation between learning and living as well as with the forms and content of education. They see our intended community as an educational community: a community that finds life and richness in the pursuit of individual and community development…

We are creating a co-operative community with a diversity of personalities and lifestyles that enable us to shape our environment and live with people of our own choosing. Our primary concerns are social, educational and ecological.

The mode of learning will be as diversified as possible to suit the needs of all of us…The emphasis, however, will be on the apprentice/learning exchange approach where all who wish to learn would seek out those who have some skill or insight to offer. In short you learn how to do it yourself with the help of some friends.

Visitors may wish to visit us for a specific purpose rather than desire to immerse themselves in our whole way of living and learning. They might take part in apprentice-style learning or seminar/workshops. The influx of people for weekends and holidays may provide employment, full or part time, for members of the community.

However, we do not seek to create a tribal village with its restrictions on personal growth…We will go beyond our community whenever it is beneficial. The interchange should be fruitful to the members of the co-operative as well as to society at large.”

Community Life

“We are aiming not only for a diversity of styles of living but for a variety of social groupings. We envisage four types of social grouping within the co-operative: the individual, the family unit, the cluster , and the community. This allows for individuals, single parent families, nuclear families, communal or extended family groupings. We hope that the community will have roughly equal numbers of children and adults.

The basic unit of the community is the cluster, in which dwellings are grouped together on a two acre site. The cluster lends itself to a variety of expressions – any arrangement of single or communal dwellings. The more communal the buildings, the greater the degree of shared facilities and the closer the interpersonal relationships. We have a permit for six clusters with four to six dwellings in each cluster. “

2. CAPE PATERSON ECO-VILLAGE

This is a proposed Australian Ecosystems (AE) sustainable housing project in South Gippsland, Victoria, involving large scale habitat resoration, sustainable architecture, renewable energy, health and community development.

“Australian Ecosystems is an environmental restoration and ecological consultancy company founded in 1997, built on a vision of protecting and enhancing biodiversity in Australia.

Throughout the late 1990s it took the form of a group of friends working together to build a nursery and undertaking planting in wetland restoration projects around Melbourne. Since then the company has grown to employ around 80 staff, including botanists, horticulturalists, landscape architects, weed control specialists and environmental engineers.

Australian Ecosystems is an integrated company that collects seed, propagates, plants and maintains over 3 million locally indigenous plants per annum on land ecological restoration projects around Victoria. The company provides five core areas of service – consultancy, nursery, revegetation, wetland and landscape management. We aim to establish biologically diverse vegetation communities that are high in habitat values, that reflect the composition and structure of natural remnant vegetation and that are ecologically viable.”

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