We’re a group of artists, crafty/maker folk, friends, green fingered, outdoorsy types and kids aged from 3 to 46. We’ve mostly come together through art school and the art scene in Edinburgh and originally lived in a shared house in the Pentland Hills where we decided to start taking control of our housing needs. In April 2017 we constituted as a housing co-op and are now a multi-generational group living in various houses across Edinburgh and the Lothians. We warmly welcome and value a range of ages, genders, nationalities and backgrounds whether they are individuals or families. We share the common goal of living in affordable and environmentally conscious housing within a community of like-minded people, we aim to find a suitable property/piece of land to house 15 – 20 people. A community can then grow from this base using our individual skills to create a way of living that is self-sustaining, mutually supportive and allows us to live and work in whichever way we choose. Once we have become established, our aim is then to support other groups to become housing co-operatives to achieve similar goals.
Our vision for the future is for the co-op to own a bit of land (around 4-8 acres) with a communal building as the central hub for the community. This would include a shared kitchen and living space as well as workshops and studios. The rest of the land would be a mixture of different growing spaces, including veg gardens, orchard and woodland, as well as space for people (particularly families) to have their own small homes/ yurts etc. We currently have Inspiral Arts, a community arts workers co-op running from our co-op, and since all of us would rather be cooperatively employed we are developing plans for a yurt-building co-op to give even more of us co-operative employment in the near future while building awareness, skills and capacity for more environmentally low-impact dwellings as well as developing land based skills.
We are currently based in and around Edinburgh, with plans to buy a property in a rural location that’s close enough to Edinburgh for individuals to be able to commute and to participate in the wider Edinburgh community, but far away enough that we can have space for our community to grow. We hope to find somewhere that can house us as well as provide some woodland for firewood and woodworking, and space to build low-impact studios, veg gardens and workshops for us to work from.
Since constituting the co-op in 2017, we’ve been busy trying to put things in place so we can eventually buy our own property. At this point in time, we’re starting to think about mortgages and loan stock as well as looking for properties that might suit us. Ideally, we’d like to find somewhere in 2019.
Many of us have lived in rented housing for a significant amount of our lives and have come to feel increasingly frustrated. As a tenant, you can be paying significant amounts of money every month to enrich a landlord who may not treat you with very much respect. After years and years of paying rent, you still don’t have any significant rights over the property you’re staying in and could well be asked to leave at any time. As well as this, many of us have spent a lot of time living in housing that doesn’t actually meet our needs, particularly when it comes to making changes to a property, or a wish to live in a more environmentally aware way.
Taking our housing into our own hands means that we are our own landlords. We can choose for our money not to contribute towards another individuals personal wealth but rather use it to enrich our lives, as well as the lives of the community around us. By becoming a co-op, we give ourselves a space to live which is secure, autonomous, affordable, non-hierarchical, socially minded and mutually supportive.