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Cohousing – From WOW! to HOW... - Evening 2 of 3

  • The Earthsong Centre 457 Swanson Road Auckland, Auckland, 0612 New Zealand (map)

Have you ever wondered how it would be:

  • To live in a safe, multi-generational neighbourhood where you are valued and feel you belong?
  • To have privacy and autonomy AND really know your neighbours?
  • To live lightly on the earth and not have to own and do everything yourself?

Cohousing is a form of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighbourhoods.

Presenter Robin Allison was the initiator and project coordinator of the entire development and construction phase of Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood. An eco-architect and Earthsong resident, Robin brings a wealth of skills and experience to inspire and assist others to develop sustainable community, either in existing suburbs or new-build.

By popular demand the next course will be run over 3 evenings in March 2018, with the usual 5 seminars (details below) covered as follows:

Tuesday 6th March from 5 pm to 8 pm: Seminar 1 (Intro to Cohousing) and aspects of Seminar 3 (Design for Community) including a detailed site and house tour and discussion.

Tuesday 13th March from 5 pm to 9 pm: Seminar 2 (Community Governance), Seminar 3 (Design) and aspects of Seminar 4 (Project Planning).

Tuesday 20th March from 5 pm to 8 pm: Seminar 4 (Project Planning) and Seminar 5 (Creating the Map).

The Earthsong Centre, 457 Swanson Road, Ranui, Auckland. For travel directions visit

Cost: $150.00 for the series, or $60 each for 3 hour seminars and $75 for 4 hour seminar. 

Download flyer Cohousing Seminar Flyer 2018 March

To register, email


Living in a connected, diverse and multi-generational neighbourhood is more supportive, more sustainable, and lots more fun! Cohousing is a practical and well-tested model for groups of people to plan and develop living communities that support both autonomy and healthy connection. Cohousing is also a great model for self-managed communities of older people who want a better option than retirement villages. There are 1000’s of successful cohousing communities throughout the world and especially in Scandinavia and the USA, as well as NZ’s own Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood in Ranui, West Auckland. This seminar will introduce the cohousing model and show many examples of how this has been applied to urban, suburban and rural situations.

Enormous creativity and strength are possible when empowered individuals work together for the common good. Consensus decision-making draws on the skills and perspectives within the group and finds a way forward that all can support, often going beyond what any individual could conceive or achieve. However there are underlying organisational structures and agreements that are key in setting the conditions for effective community governance. Robin will introduce those structures and processes, including the “coloured cards” method of consensus decision-making, that have served Earthsong so well both during project development, and in the ongoing vibrant life of the community.

Seminar 3: DESIGN FOR COMMUNITY – Social and Environmental issues.
Physical design doesn’t create community, but it can powerfully encourage or discourage community from happening between people. Intentional community design is intrinsic to cohousing, and ranges from macro issues of site layout and common facilities, to more subtle relationships between individuality and overall coherence, privacy and interaction, diversity and inclusivity. Eco-design issues of solar orientation, materials and services also make a huge difference to comfort, connectedness and ongoing costs. Key aspects of designing for community, and the synergies between social and environmental design that enhance both, will be discussed with examples from both Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood and other cohousing communities overseas. Collaborative design techniques will also be discussed.

Cohousing is created by a group of committed people working together over several years, and involves a wide range of issues and steps that may seem daunting to begin with. But many, many groups have negotiated these steps and achieved a successful cohousing project. This seminar will introduce some of those key steps, from developing a cohesive group vision, through membership processes and decision-making, to collaborative design, legal and financial structures and other development issues. Drawing from her hard-won experience as Development Coordinator of Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, Robin will share some key learnings and processes that will assist new groups to understand and navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of creating community and building a neighbourhood. Both the journey and the destination are so worthwhile.

Developing an innovative eco-housing project as a group is no small feat! Thank goodness there are tools and processes that help with this. The Timeline Game is one of these – developed specifically for cohousing groups, it addresses all the major areas that require attention: group formation, legal, financial, marketing and membership issues, site, design and council consents. Working together as a group, members identify and understand the steps needed, and arrange them in order and relationship with each other to create a “map” to guide progress towards a completed cohousing neighbourhood. It’s an enjoyable and enlightening process.