We generally meet on the first Saturday of each month in Colchester. Meetings are followed by a bring-and-share lunch. We also arrange occasional weekends away to give us time to discuss developments more generally and build our group identity.
At all meetings, we try to make our decisions by consensus, which takes longer but is more likely to ensure that everyone has had a say and accepts the outcome. We have used voting on the rare occasions a decision has to be made urgently, or is required by our non-profit company legal status. As our membership grows, and issues become more complex, we ensure our decision-making processes keep pace. Download a copy of our decision-making principles.
To share the work of developing our cohousing community, everyone belongs to at least two subgroups, working on different areas such as building, finance, communications, membership and social activities. The Executive (chair, secretary, treasurer and subgroup chairs plus a ‘lay member’) reports to the monthly Board meetings at which subgroups also present reports on their current work for discussion and agreement.
Members attend meetings in person or by video conferencing and we also cooperate through email and other computer-based systems. Help is given to new members if necessary to manage the adoption of what may be new ways of working. This is in addition to our ‘new members’ information pack and mentoring from existing members.
We are looking ahead and have set up an ‘ever after’ subgroup to be creative about the future management of the project. We have already decided some of the long-term matters, for example:
- We will prepare and share meals in the common house on a regular basis.
- Those of us who enjoy gardening will be able to indulge that passion in the communal gardens and we all look forward to enjoying any crops.
- Our site in the Old Heath area has good public transport and we have agreed to minimise car use, in line with our eco aspirations. We will run a car-pooling scheme to encourage people to dispense with a private car, which will have the added benefit of reducing the need for unsightly parking on the site. We have several members who have already dispensed with the car, but not the bicycle, so we also plan to host a bike ‘repair cafe’ for the cyclists among us and in the local neighbourhood.
We have not yet resolved to have a wine cellar, which things to buy in bulk or whether to watch classic films in black and white, but these and all other possibilities are up for discussion in our ‘ever after’ subgroup.
We are legally constituted as a company limited by guarantee: Cannock Mill Cohousing Colchester Ltd, registered in England and Wales number 06805556, registered office Cannock Mill Old Heath Road Colchester CO2 8AA. Read our 2018-2019 annual report.