A chance conversation with a friend, who mentioned Cannock Mill, started us on our quest to become Cannock Mill members. At first we thought it would be an ideal thing to recommend to another friend who has been interested in communities for years. But over the next week or so it dawned on us that this could be a wonderful opportunity for us too. We’d always intended to move out of London to live a greener life, to be part of a closer community, but still be in easy reach of London to visit friends and family and go to the theatre etc. Perhaps this was a way to combine all these things!
We went along to the Cannock Mill Cohousing Discovery event in East London in November. This was an inspirational event which included presentations on all aspects of the project, the chance to meet many Millers and ask questions.
What made the day very special was being allocated a ‘buddy’when we arrived. Barbara was warm, friendly and a fount of knowledge and we immediately felt at home and involved in the group. We left the Open Day buzzing with ideas and fired with enthusiasm.
Initially, it seemed like a long path to membership: attend four board meetings, a membership meeting, a social and a finance meeting; four months at least before knowing if we could join and whether a house would be available. But we soon realised what a helpful process this is. At each Board we meet different members and learn more about the community and its aims. We’ve spent time reading all the fascinating background material contained both in the planning documents, from the history of the Mill to the wonderful landscaping plans, and in many papers about the meticulous work the Millers have done in planning the project. But above all, we’ve had the time to reflect on whether this would be the right path for us, what we could contribute to the community, what we would have to compromise on and what we would gain. One small example was examining honestly whether one of us could leave a beloved garden and accept having a smaller personal garden at Cannock Mill in exchange for sharing a much larger communal garden with wonderful features like the pond, the vegetable plots and the beautiful Mill*.
Another important step in our decision making was when we were asked to briefly introduce ourselves to the whole group at the second Board meeting we attended. We talked amongst other things about the experience of community we’d gained from regular holidays in groups doing courses at places like Cortijo Romero in Spain. Presenting our ideas to the group and receiving positive feedback from them helped us to believe that we really would be able to contribute to the Cannock Mill community.
And so, as we approach our next Board meeting, we are getting more and more excited about the possibility of being accepted as Millers, about living differently and contributing to an exciting project. So wish us luck that we’ll be accepted and that one of those remaining houses could be for us, because we are now convinced that this is how we’d like to live … watch this space!
(The authors became Millers in March 2018.)
*Editor: This reminds me of a July 2016 blog!