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  1. Cohousing Positive community resistance to hyper-individualist market society Matthieu Lietaert European University Institute Degrowth conference Paris, April 18th 2008

  2. Cohousing? • What? • A neighbourhood development (10 to 25 units) where private and common facilities are combined • Where? • In (semi-)urban context • Why? • To provide answers to the social and the practical needs of citizens • How? • Bottom-up approach

  3. Historical Overview • First cohousings • in mid 1970’s , Denmark • Rapidly spread to Sweden and Holland • 1990’s onwards: Huge boom in the USA • 2000: • Japan, Rest of Europe, Australia, Canada • 1000 cohousings built, same amount in process • Denmark: 2 % of population live in cohousing • Boom of Cohousing for elderly people

  4. Cohousing & Degrowth? • Assumption 1: • Hyper-Individualism requiers illimited growth • Community enables “efficient sharing” and degrowth • Assumption 2: • Lack of public spaces requiers growth • Private “public spaces” enable degrowth

  5. Cohousing & Degrowth? At individual/neighboorhood level, Cohousing enables: new local social relations new time management new space management new consumption patterns

  6. Increase of local social contacts • Common meeting spaces • Contacts and activities with direct neighbours • Inclusion of groups with specific needs • Children • Elders • Young couples • Singles • Differently able people • high level of privacy when needed • Self-management and empowerment

  7. New Time Management • Cooking activity • Individually: 35h-40h monthly • Community: 5h-10h monthly • Schooling of children • Transport and homework. • Babysitting • “Every child should have 100 parents”

  8. Alternative Consumption Pattern • Sharing & Re-use • Cars, bikes, tools, toys, washing machines, Clothes (especially for children) • Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETs) • Time Banks • Direct contact with local (organic) producers • House • Smaller (cheaper appartment) • Bigger common house (shared cost) • Ecology: low CO2 emissions (UCL, 2008)

  9. Problems in mainstreaming? • Market Society: Atomisation • Citizens >> consumers • Critique of “community life” since 80’s • Top-down hierarchy, no privacy • Communism, failure • Decision-making • From individual/family level to Community • Need to learn a new language: facilitation and consensus • Housing market • Expensive Intermediaries • Speculation

  10. Cohousing Positive community resistance to hyper-individualist market society Matthieu Lietaert European University Institute Degrowth conference Paris, April 18th 2008