How can we really be inclusive?
Over the holiday period Manuela and I have been very busy. We made efforts to meet many of the people newly interested in the Share-It Community and talk about the things that they asked and suggestions that they made. As with all good plans, we are now discovering other facets that are important to people that may alter the financial concepts we take forward to get our community working. Though many people like the original concepts we held out for beginning a living community, it is now evident that the project will need to adapt a little to make a transition into this new collaborative venture.
We wholly believe that cooperation is going to be the glue that binds the members together, and co-create a fantastic community opportunity for lots of people. However, as many of the Share-It Community members work towards doing this, we need to consider exactly what people are expecting and what they are prepared to pay in a financial commitment. For example we envisaged that the community would be set up to share the meals and daily tasks associated with the food production. That members would possibly want to be doing combined activities regularly and frequently and that our financial calculations and projections would be a way to provide these. Also that many people would be happy with a small space for personal use and shared spaces for all other needs.
However, following a few conversations we are considering that maybe many of the initial members would want to provide their own meals and occasionally share a community meal together. So possibly requiring their own small kitchen/eating area as well as bedroom and bathroom. Also a room large enough to have private study/relaxation spaces as opposed to just using community areas. This potentially alters the type of properties we can now seriously consider and unless we are prepared for living in a place that is undergoing some reparations/renovations, finding these criteria is much more difficult.
Also, whilst many of us understand our reasons for seeking a property that can be more self-sufficient if times get difficult, we need to know what commitment the interested parties have towards the need for such things. Things like our own ground well for independency from the mains water, a forest for access to wood, and wood stoves for heating in the winter and cooking. And do we really want to be involved in creating food sovereignty, investing in poly-tunnels and farm equipment etc.? Added to this, who does the work of keeping the grounds and property in good order, who is responsible for the food growing, who manages the running of the community and its financial commitments?
The actual costs of running a community don’t have to be very large of course and if shared between more people they almost certainly reduce the outlay for each member. Depending upon what the immediate needs are for new members and what we jointly consider necessary combined outlays are for, has a huge impact on what the cost will be. If members want more luxury and facilities, like swimming pools and sauna and sunrooms and relaxation cabins across the grounds, then of course the overall cost will be higher than if we all eat bread and butter and have no heating/electricity and live by candle light and wood burning stoves for example. But given that the majority of the members are still very active in mind and body, we might manage to live more affordably in the beginning before we need to put in place things like ground floor access to bedrooms or lifts and wheelchair ramps across the grounds. I think you get the point here.
With all of these things to consider, Manuela and I are about to set out on more fact finding missions and house viewings. One of the potential new members has been sending us many properties to consider, and seems very keen along with her husband to keep things moving quickly. Not only do we need to reconsider the types of available properties we could use to start the Share-It Community, we may need to look into a couple of revised options about who will be members and what the financial commitments will be for each of them. I mean that some people do not have a fund available for capital investment, but can afford to pay a community rent and would possibly be ideal people to add value for the community spirit. Some people have more and some have less and others still have to sell properties elsewhere to be able to invest in the purchasing, and can further the aims of the project despite the immediate shortfall of investment capacity.
So here is an idea for us all to consider. To meet all the needs of buying a suitable property, and to give us a chance to use the assets we hold in banks/shoe boxes before they may become swallowed up by the banking industry when it has another collapse, we need to agree upon several plans. We contact as many people as we can that we know would want to be involved, either just by funding the project or by becoming a member themselves. When in a month or so we have a better idea what capital is available, what the members agree is a suitable property we can organise a funding plan along the lines of a buying/funding committee. People that use any and all their savings to buy the property in conjunction with others, then agree upon rates of ongoing costs for the running of the project. We can also consider a % reduction on that monthly rental if needed by some members and a more full monthly cost to members who can pay rental only, as a way of offsetting the initial capital investment.
Again the property we can buy will depend upon the initial amount we can raise. Then the ongoing costs will depend upon how many members there are, or how many the property can house comfortably and what things are to be included in the outlay costs. For example, we may find that a true figure for the ongoing costs would require an amount of rental at say 850€ per calendar month per member, with 10 members in residence. If we then had 12 members half who rent only, the costs could be lower and some of the members who like Manuela and I do not yet have a pension could have a reduction based upon the amount we invest from our personal capital.
I.E. an investment of say 25.000€ recieves a reduction of 20%, an investement of 50.000€ receives a rent reduction of 35%. An investment of 100.000€ receives a 55% reduction of rent. An investment of above 160.000€ receives a reduction of 75% with a maximum of 80% for investments over 200.000€ and other members pay the full agreed rental cost. And also depending upon whether you are a couple sharing a bedroom or single with your own rooms, the overall deductions/costs reflect this situation. In an ideal world Manuela and I would buy the property ourselves and only charge the essential costs to have a shared community living cooperative, but sadly we haven’t that much collateral… Please let us know if you think any of these ideas are what you think could share the equitable value of a cooperative community project and if you want to get involved.