Who we are
I grew up in Northamptonshire with my English mother, French father and younger sister. I qualified as a nurse there, and during the 70s and 80s I worked in London, the West of Ireland, Bristol and Somerset. After specialising as a children’s nurse, I trained as a health visitor and eventually moved up north, where I have lived happily for over 20 years in the Peak District village of Hayfield. I now work part time as a qualitative research fellow in public health at the University of Sheffield, where my main research focus is in health inequalities and cultural safety in health care.
Corinne, my French partner, and I have not experienced cohousing before but when this opportunity presented itself we both knew almost immediately that this was where we wanted to be. We first fell in love with the location, but the decision was sealed when we met existing members , felt so at home in a warm inviting atmosphere and saw the impressively well organised and consensual way that decisions are made. A strong attraction is being part of an intergenerational eco community which combines my long standing commitment to living sustainably, and living among others of all ages who share that outlook and vision, and among young children. I’m looking forward to lots of walking and cycling in the immediate area as well as the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales. I’ll also be able to continue my enjoyment of gardening, wildlife and nature, and the easy cycling access to Lancaster means I can transfer my Quaker membership to the local meeting and also join a local tennis club. Traditional and folk music, singing, reading and yoga are among our other interests, and these are shared by several others in the community, so all in all this is a great new phase in our lives that we are going to really enjoy and enjoy sharing.^ top
I have lived happily in Forge Bank since April 2013, some of the time with my daughter Caiti, who is now working in Manchester. I’ve been a lecturer for most of my working life, mainly in universities in Sheffield then in Lancaster since 2000. I left full-time teaching a few years ago to pursue my own writing and research, which means less money and more time and happiness. I am a Green Party member and have been an activist in the past, mainly around women's and trade union issues. I like working with other people on shared projects as I spend most days writing on my own. My interests and activities range across gardening, art, reading, swimming and cycling, cooking, travelling, writing poetry and fiction, cinema and Italian. I joined Lancaster cohousing because I realised that I’d reached a turning point in my life and wanted to be part of a community that combines working and living together with a practical and sustainable way of life. It offers me the best of shared living combined with a degree of privacy – and luckily for me it was on my doorstep!
As the daughter of a travelling professor I got to travel widely in my childhood living in Western Australia, the USA and Thailand, and now have family at all corners of the world, which is good in some ways and not others. I returned to the UK at 17 to go to university in Scotland and then worked as a film/video editor in television for many years, based in London. Looking for a more sustainable way of living and community led me to Lancaster Cohousing, which I joined at the end of 2006, moving up to Lancaster soon after that.
I now mostly make web videos, particularly about any subject to do with sustainable lifestyles. This includes intermittent documentation of our project on video. I also like walking and cycling, and being relatively new to this beautiful part of the country, have many Wainwrights still to bag and cycle routes to try. I also enjoy gardening and growing vegetables, and hope to do a bee-keeping course when time permits.^ top
I moved to Lancaster in June 2012 from North East England to be part of the cohousing project. After about a year of trying I was lucky enough to be both offered a job in the North West as a librarian in a further education college and complete the sale of my house within weeks of each other. Perfect timing.
I joined Lancaster Cohousing in early 2011. I had been aware of the development for a few years. My initial interest was in eco and green living however it was the amazing group of people building the sustainable community that convinced me to stay and join. Came for the eco but stayed for the community.
A few random observations about myself, in no particular order and by no means comprehensive: I’m an inconsistent artist and a 3.00 a.m. thinker and reader; I like strong tea, ecology, libraries, radio, 70s music, The Railway Children, diverse community, cats, beaches (especially Northumbrian ones) and art.
I work as an environmental scientist for a campaign organisation. I’m vegan and have long tried to live an eco-friendly lifestyle – so moving into a zero carbon house in a cohousing community was the obvious next step for me. I joined the project in the early days – way back in 2006 – so I’m really excited that all the hard work has now come to fruition. It’s also great to see how the project has developed. For example, now that we have office facilities I have finally been able to move my office out of my spare room! As for leisure, I enjoy 80s music, country walks, racquet sports, reading, politics and cult TV/ films. I pretend not to be interested in football or the Eurovision Song Contest...
I'm Kathy and Paul's daughter. I'm going to love living near my playmate Martha, and it will be fantastic growing up round everyone else and with such an amazing playground on the doorstep. I love dancing, reading books with mirror endings, and being the centre of attention.^ top
I'm Luke and Elizabeth's daughter. I'm eight. I like to play with my pets Sparky the dog and my Guinea Pigs. I think the guinea pigs will like it there too as we can take them out in their cage to get some yummy grass. I love living at Forgebank, we've been waiting a long time and it's great to be able to go swim in the reiver so easily. Friends love to visit us here. I keep nagging my parents to start building a tree house. At the moment I'm really into skyping with friends all over the world while playing Minecraft. I also love putting on shows with my local friends.^ top
I've retired from wage-earning now, and am enjoying being able to put my energy where my passions are. My professional background is technical authoring, but I've always been interested in living in a more sustainable way, and in feeling more connected to my neighbours and wider community. Cohousing combines those two long term aspirations, so I had no hesitation in signing up to LCH as soon as I heard about it, in spring 2006!
To move into a beautiful new home with neighbours I know and trust, a mere 6 1/2 years later, feels amazing and extraordinary - how did we do it? We've learned so much! Learning to trust the group mind, not being too attached to specific outcomes, being able to go with the flow - these have all been helpful in striking the balance between the individual, the group and the time and budget constraints of the development project!
And now begins the exciting and creative work of living together. My interest is as much in HOW we do things as in WHAT we do so my natural home is the Process Group, which has oversight of our formal and informal processes. For example, in how we reach decisions that are transparent and acceptable to everyone, how we mitigate the impact of a decision which we have agreed is good for the community as a whole, but has a disproportionately negative impact on one individual, how we can develop skills to avoid inadvertent conflict and what we do when conflict does arise.
I am loving living in this community, and being part of this on-going shared project. There is always someone to play with (of any age) and the capacity for quiet and solitude too. My only regret is that I am a long way from my grandfamilies and friends in the south. But the train service is great...
I’m a sustainable buildings engineer who paints pictures and loves printmaking. After Art College I studied environmental engineering and now work in Manchester heading a team of sustainability consultants split between offices in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. To balance the long travel I work at least one day a week hotdesking in the Hive in Halton Mill. I specialise in residential energy efficiency and building integrated renewables, so the plans for Forge Bank instantly struck a chord.
I can’t think of a better place for a young boy to grow up: in the countryside, by a river, and with the ability to go off exploring the ‘wilds’ of the cohousing land. Since we have been here we have enjoyed such things as: a nights summer camping in the yurt that was put up on the land upstream next to the best swimming spot on the river, late evening barbeques on our little beach, ukelele jams in the Common house round a roaring fire, Loads of shared meals, far less cooking and washing up than we used to do, hectic childrens birthday parties in the common house (where you can retreat to your own home after all the small people have headed home), and trips to the lake district, to the beach and, through the mud and past the rope swing, to woodies for hot vimto and spicy bean burgers.
I was initially interested in ecohousing, but the community aspect of the project makes this so exciting. I am now sharing with a lovely group of people in a beautiful setting and this was what made the decision to join the right one for us. I am an Occupational Psychologist and work around the country and often from home - which is great overlooking the Lune. Having home and office so close is great!^ top
After visiting communities in Scotland and living in a rural village in Nepal I have become convinced that living with others in a co-housing setting, especially an environmentally conscious one, is a great way to live. I live with my partner Becky and son Jasper and work as a nurse in the local hospital. The outdoors and environment has been an important part of my life having grown up on the doorstep of the lakes. I have worked as an instructor for two outdoor education charities and particularly enjoyed teaching environmental education as part of my work. I love running, climbing, kayaking, cycling etc. In fact most things that you can do outside! I have been living at Lancaster Cohousing for 3 years now and don't regret it for a second. From runs with friends from the street to good food and company in the common house, it is definitely an enjoyable journey.
I'm a self employed project manager based here at Forgebank. The project management of the cohousing project was my biggest and most demanding job. I also do some environmental and transport consultancy. I started my working life as an ecologist. In my spare time I love escaping to the quiet bits of countryside which surround Lancaster, and exploring new places on my bike. I've been getting more into running recently too. I get a lot of satisfaction out of making things happen but I easily get fed up with long meetings. I have a reputation for getting lots of food ready quickly, but creating a huge amount of mess in the process.
I’m Barry and Elizabeth's younger daughter, and am currently doing my A-levels (French, English Lit, History and Music) at QES in Kirkby Lonsdale. Like my sister I enjoy making music (I play the piano and saxophone and am involved in various ensembles/bands), and I’m also a keen – although not particularly accurate – French-speaker. Outside of school I dance, horse ride and attempt to walk the reluctant family dog Pippin. Unfortunately I can’t even claim to be an on-off vegetarian, as I seem to have inherited the South African meat-loving gene from my Dad’s side.
I am Eliza, Martha's little sister (born June 2011). I like cats and pies. Even though I only have toy cats at home I have found different houses along the street where I can stand around looking cute until a bigger person opens the door and invites me in to see their cat. If I am lucky I get a biscuit too. Cohousing is great but there could be more pies.^ top
The cohousing project had been in existance for around 3 years before I came for a visit. The site had only just been chosen and a bid for the land was in place. I decided to take the plunge and joined in the summer of 2009. What attracted me initially was the ideal location of the site on the banks of the River Lune. Since then I have come to know the people who make up the cohousing group and feel I have ‘come home’ in every sense of the word. It isn't just a house with a river view but the whole ethos of the place is awesome. I moved from the Peak District in Derbyshire and began to build a new homeopathic practice at Dacrelands Natural Health Clinic just down the road. I run natural nutrition courses now from Halton Mill, the green cooperative business hub that is a spin off from the Lancaster Cohousing Company and is a company in its own right. One of the many huge benefits to living here is that I am back on my bike again after many years of being daunted by the hills in the Peak District. I am a member of the Lancaster Car Club and no longer own my own vehicle but have a choice of vehicles when I do need to use one for long distances.
I love my life here on the banks of the River Lune in my wonderful PassivHaus and every day I appreciate the difference being part of this wonderful cohousing project has made to my life. Being part of a friendly intentional neighbourhood makes it easy to participate in an exciting, sustainable and green lifestyle. Every day there is an array of various activities going on. We are spoilt for choice.^ top
I am a lecturer in Performing Arts at Edge Hill University. I have also worked as an actor in repertory and touring theatres in this country and abroad. I’m currently a member of Larkin’ About, performing larger than life characters at numerous festivals and street events.^ top
I’m Luke & Elizabeth’s son. I'm ten. I like playing Minecraft with my friends. At the moment I like rugby and athletics. I love our new street, it's great to find leftovers in the commonhouse fridge when I'm hungry. I like to help my parents and others to cook meals for everyone. All my friends think it's a really cool street but to me it seems normal already.^ top
Alongside raising two lovely girls with Barry, I have worked mostly in education (primary) for more years than I care to think – latterly as a special needs advisor and in teacher education. I am currently taking a break from salaried employment, but am continuing to help with some research projects and hoping to continue with my Masters studies. I am Clerk of our small local Quaker meeting, but expect to relinquish that when we move in, and link up with Lancaster Meeting. I could probably best be described as “soft green”. I was actively involved in Friends of the Earth and a LETS community in our Ulverston years, try to do all the usual low-key pro-environment things, and hope to do better in a supportive cohousing community. In our current garden, I have enjoyed experimenting with growing produce (strawberries and spuds – successful; carrots – less so). Other things I enjoy, in no particular order: dinner parties, good films, singing, playing the piano, finding bargains in charity shops, and sitting in front of a tent with a good book on a sunny French campsite.
I am Isla but some call me Smila. I was born in April 2012 and live at Forgebank with my big sister Polly and parents Kathy and Paul. I love hanging out with my cohousing friends especially the other children. I am very lucky because there are three of us cohousing babies that were born within a month so I have two playmates the same age and lots more a bit older. I am always happy when people talk to me and I gurgle and giggle when my sister dances or splashes in the bath!^ top
It may seem strange to be writing about living at Lancaster Cohousing when in the middle of the trip of a lifetime! Visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgars) in Central Australia has been one of the great moments of my life. But nonetheless I'm hugely looking forward to the time when I can move into my new home at Heron Bank.
What am I looking forward to? Well, being settled again with my own things around me and having a lovely new kitchen after making do in multiple others since leaving my last home in Bristol. But beyond that is all the excitement of being part of this new project, to having such a special house that will be warm and fresh all the time with low bills, to exploring the stunning landscapes of the area, to the desirable mix of privacy and communal life, with a thriving arts scene in Lancaster and around, and to smelling the coffee on Brunch Sundays knowing there will be delicious food, news exchange and maybe the odd bit of putting the world to rights. And to being on the cooking/ cleaning up side of the counter - from my tastes of this to date both at LCH and at a cohousing project I visited in Canada, this is a very friendly warm time even if it has its hairy moments when the waffles are not quite ready and the queue is forming!
I'm looking forward to living among so many musicians and artists and hope, now I've retired, that this environment will help me reach back into my own artistic creativity after a way too busy life.^ top
I am an artist specialising in artists books and site specific art, and I completed an MA in Fine Art in 2010. I hope to continue to involve other group members in art projects at Forge Bank and elsewhere - creating art work is a great way to bring people together. Some helped me with my MA sound piece (see www.artistsbooks.org)
I'm also a keen folk singer and banjo player, and regularly perform at a local(ish) folk club. I lived in communities of one sort or another for 28 years until 1998. Chris and I brought up our son in co-operation with other parents and children. I have lived in fairly small communes, and I am already finding cohousing more exciting, dynamic and with a much wider spread of interests, as well as giving me privacy when I want it. There is also a supportive community around for those times when I need it. I have been a builder, conference organiser, therapist, adult education tutor, equal opportunities officer, outreach worker, city councillor, coffin painter - and that is just the paid work.
I work part-time doing cycle mapping at the moment, and in my spare time I like to be outdoors. I am also an engineer, and I like tinkering with cars and other gadgets.
I am Huw's partner and Martha and Eliza's mum. I work in the education department at the local prison. I like to keep active e.g. walking, running, being outdoors, but since Martha arrived on the scene early in 2009 my priorities have changed and my spare time is a bit more family based. I still like my music, politics, football chat but seem to be more Twinkle Twinkle Little Star than Rock the Casbah these days. I was drawn to cohousing mainly for the community aspects of the project - watching Martha and Polly play makes me realise what a great decision it was to join.^ top
I’m Barry and Elizabeth’s older daughter (although my younger sister Miriam looks much my age if not older, and is smug about it). I study Music and Education at Cambridge, but due to terms being only nine weeks long I’m up north quite a bit and look forward to coming back to the cohousing community during my holidays. I love singing in choirs and playing the piano, watching good films, art, attempting to learn Spanish, educational debate, and being an on-off (currently on) vegetarian.
I am a retired lecturer in Social Anthropology. I like to offer occasional short courses for adults so might rent mill space for that. My hobbies are hill walking and scrambling, cycling, debating, writing, reading world history and eco-activism - is that a hobby? I lived in India for ten years including a year working at the Gandhi Research Institute in Benares. I have one son who is now a journalist in Indonesia so I have carbon footprint problems. For as long as I can remember I have thought it was mad to live either as an isolated couple/nuclear family or singleton.^ top
I’m husband to Judy, who I met while working as a civil engineer in India in 1969, and since then, dad to a grown up son and daughter, and now with three grandchildren. We lived overseas much of the time from 1977, until returning to UK in 1988. I retired from water engineering as a Sustainable Development Director in 2008. This allows me to work on various engineering and community fronts, trying to act, learn and teach for innovation – for real sustainability, on climate change issues, and for better poverty-reducing infrastructure in developing countries. We’ve also been getting involved with local Transition Town groups. So the eco aspect of LCH was a big attraction; and cohousing living fits naturally with our wish to grow older in a supportive community, helping others and gaining help when we need it too. I’m active, luckily, and love wilderness, walking & scrambling. I’m trying to learn to paint, and occasionally sing. I’ve learnt that combining passion, expertise and pragmatism is what changes the world, and feel inspired by all the people in LCH, as an example of this. I believe that creating successful working examples of doing things differently is one key to change, and I would like to help and take part in LCH, as an example for others, too.^ top
I’m Jan’s daughter. I am currently studying Chemistry at university in Hull.^ top
I'm married to Anna (G), and father of Elsa and Eve. We found Lancaster Cohousing through friends here, visited in May 2013, and were drawn in by the people, the place, and its potential. My recent career has been in learning technology and information standardization, particularly supporting personal and professional development, so I have a particular interest in how we could make better use of technology supporting collective governance, process, and development, both for Lancaster Cohousing (connecting more to personal development) and for the Green Elephant Coop at Halton Mill (connecting to professional and business development). This is a great setting for my own development in this area of life and work, and hopefully a contribution towards a better future society.^ top
I am a part time Sustrans Bike It Officer which I love – this means I work with schools to help children to be able to cycle to school. I’m also a Mum and I’ll be living in the project with my partner Paul and daughter Polly. Paul and I both like to cycle, run and practice Ashtanga yoga when we get the chance. I’ve been involved in the project from the start. I look forward to living in community and hope that others will be inspired by the eco-living side of the project. I’m originally from Suffolk / Essex but have been in Lancaster on and off for nearly 20 years now so it feels like home.^ top
I am currently the stay-at-home parent for Fergal and Lily who are autonomously home educated and raised in a consensual manner; this is working well and we are all really enjoying it. Elizabeth has the short-straw of going to work and earning a living for us all. Most of my time is spent caring for them in one way or another, including ferrying them round to home-ed activities or clubs, whilst keeping the house running and looking after the pets, building servers so they can play computer games with their friends and providing general IT support. The rest of my time is usually soaked up by cohousing related activities and duties, since I help both the Finance and the Build and Resources teams. I try and squeeze photography and/or running in any remaining spare moments.
In my previous life I worked as an IT consultant for various consultancies in and around London. I am glad to be out of that game, but still potter around with computers when given the chance.
We moved up here in 2009 after travelling up and down for over a year to attend the various meetings. We had considered and visited various communities around the country, but felt Lancaster Cohousing was the closest fit, since both community and sustainability were important to us.^ top
I am Huw and Lucy’s daughter (born Feb 2009), and Eliza's big sister. I love living next door to Polly and just down the street to Erik and Reuben and lots of bigger people who give me loads of attention. I love cycling my pink bike up and down the pedestrian street and hanging out at the centre and the library in Halton. *Update* - I don't like lemons but I do like lemon juice.^ top
Hi. I am Jan’s son, I am a student at Dallam in Milnethorpe. I have joined Halton’s Scouts and have made friends in the village. We joined the project through my Aunty reading a copy of the Permaculture magazine and passing it on to us. We joined in July 2010 and I think the project is amazing therefore I love living here.^ top
Kevin, my partner, and I moved into Forgebank in October 2012. It’s a big move for both of us. I have spent most of my working life as a journalist in London, mainly in television. My most infamous programme was Death on the Rock, about the shooting of three IRA terrorists in Gibraltar, which Mrs Thatcher tried to ban. Seven years ago I moved to work in communications for the NHS, and then in a University. But I missed hands on creative work so I have gone back to film making -setting up Forgebank Films, a cooperative making short educational and promotional videos, with Frances, a film editor and camera woman who also lives at cohousing - it's just one of those wonderful connections that come through cohousing. On top of that I’m writing stories for the Lancaster Environment Centre (Lancaster University) website, and helping to run Halton Mill, our low carbon workspace, which is an amazing place.
Outside work I love to walk (especially in mountains), run (I’ve started a gentle runners group at Forgebank), sing (joined Lune Valley Singers), eat good food (ideally that someone else has cooked), dance five rhythms (one of the UK’s best teachers does occasional classes locally) and grow things (there’s the whole landscaping plan to keep me interested). I’m loving living in cohousing - particularly the warm houses and the view. It’s wierd, and wonderful, being in a street where you know everyone. I enjoy the easy social connections, and the fact that if I ever need anything there is someone who has it and will lend it to me.
I currently work in environmental research, but was previously a civil servant, a travel agent, hotel receptionist. I have a large family but not in the UK, which makes me appreciate the advantages of living in an intentional community such as this one. I like getting together with friends to cook, watch good films or play board games. I also enjoy quieter time on my own, reading science fiction books, attempting to meditate or exercising in different ways. I like being outdoors and like hiking in good company (especially since my sense of direction is so poor). I love the nearly constant temperature in our eco homes, even when it is so cold outside, and how easy it is to dry clothes.^ top
I grew up in Lancashire, but lived down south, in Cambridge and then in Oxford, from the age of 18 until Miles and I moved to our new home at Forgebank in August 2012. I missed the north-west, and the sea, so the location of Lancaster Cohousing was one of the things which attracted me, but we hadn't planned to move. We found out about the project pretty much by chance in mid-2010, thought we'd check it out, and then the first time I stood on the footpath by the Lune the decision to move here kind of made itself.
It was the latest in a long line of unplanned life decisions that seem to have worked out ok... after a degree in social and political science, I did some travelling and worked as a technology journalist before joining Oxfam GB in 2000. Where I still work, though now from the Mill. I work on projects and systems to support and enable collaboration and knowledge sharing, and I'm very interested in how technology can support transformation and deliver sustainable change. Many of my colleagues think I'm a geek, but I see myself as a generalist who gets technology! I went part time in 2006, and completed an NVQ 2 in plumbing – I have always had a big thing about water.
I read a lot of books, and I have been writing a blog since 2002. Other things I like include swimming (especially outside), saunas (especially Finnish ones), pickled vegetables (especially Turkish ones) and martinis (especially dirty ones). As for why cohousing… one of my favourite quotes is Margaret Mead’s "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."^ top
I came across Lancaster Cohousing when looking for ‘green homes’ and wondering where to live next. It made me consider how I want to live as well as where. I have seen the huge amount of thought and work that has gone into the project, and that, and the commitment of people involved, gave me the confidence to move to Lancaster and join the project.
I work in the voluntary sector - and it is important to me to choose which organisations I work for - always small, grassroots and usually focussed on campaigning. A few years ago I gave up some work and took time out to do a course in textile design, patchwork and quilting. I have carried on feeding my creative side and since then have not been able to go back to full time work -- there are too many other things I want to do. I like to keep fit, mainly through yoga, dancing, walking and cycling. I also enjoy gardening, reading, textile art and crafty things.
ITs great to be here for lots of reasons – living amongst friends, a green community, sharing stuff, a cycle route to Lancaster, and a draught-free house – what a joy after draughty country cottages.And I never imagined I would live somewhere with such a fab view!^ top
I grew up in north London, and was always surrounded by “non-biological” aunts and uncles. I believe that living in community suits our social nature, and have always been a bit baffled by the concept of the nuclear family. I was lucky to spend my childhood on a street where there were many other children, we knew lots of our neighbours, and we could play outside safely; all of which I thought was perfectly normal, but there seem to be few places like that now.
Before moving to Lancaster Cohousing, I lived in Edinburgh in a women’s housing co-op. I think the structure of a co-op is excellent for very small groups, and my partner Jay and I had been working to set up a new co-op on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which would have had many of the same features as here: separate houses for families, a shared building for communal activities, and environmental sustainability as a key focus. When we moved to Lancaster for Jay's job, we realised that Lancaster Cohousing was absolutely ideal for us, with many of the same aims we’d been working towards with our co-op, albeit with a different legal structure. We have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to rent a house on Heron Bank, and we're planning to stay in cohousing beyond our current tenancy.
Forge Bank is spectacularly beautiful with a mighty river and magnificent trees all around lavishing showers of oxygen and a profound sense of well-being on us all. I cant help but be inspired by the vision, passion, energy, commitment and brilliance of my neighbours. Although living in community continues to be hard work it pays off in joyful ladle-fulls. Life feels fuller, busier and more varied than ever before though somehow I find time for long stretches of peace and quiet...funny that...^ top
I was initially attracted to the Lancaster Cohousing project because of the low carbon lifestyle and the eco house design. I am a native Lancastrian having been born and bred in Blackpool (the Las Vegas of Northern England). Outside work I spend my leisure time mountaineering, both in the UK and abroad, as well as exploring the subterranean world of the Yorkshire dales.^ top
I am married to Charles who I met in India where I was born. We are parents to a grown up son and daughter and grandparents (3 xs). Until I retired I was Social Worker, CAB Supervisor, Tribunal Panel Member etc. Now I have the luxury of doing things I never had time for before i.e. Tai Chi, Pilates, volunteering for 3 organisations (wood recycling, good neighbour scheme, and advice work). Besides this, I enjoy foraging, growing stuff/making things to eat and walking with our group. The eco aspect of Lancaster Cohousing initially drew me in: I thought that a zero carbon house was ‘pie-in-the-sky’ for me, but sometimes dreams do come true... The co-housing bit was slightly scary but having met the group – all of whom are so enthusiastic about making it work, that I am immensely reassured. I am also in awe of the talent and experience held collectively in the group and I feel privileged to be part of it.^ top
Most of my life has been spent as a teacher, with interest in rural education and learning. I was born in Lancashire and feel that I have roots here, having grown my first crop of lettuce in sight of Winter Hill. An American Field Service (AFS) scholarship took me to Detroit in 1963, which provided an international dimension to the rest of my life. I married early and went with a young family to Tanzania in 1972. Understanding how technology helps determine the quality of life of rural people became a focus for my life’s learning. That allowed me to spend 16 years at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh and more recently 11 years in Chinese universities, passing on some of what I’d learnt in Scotland. Software I’ve evolved with colleagues provides a basis for optimal timing of outdoor irrigation, wherever you are in the world. Hopefully, joining the co-housing project will allow me opportunity to interact with grandchildren in a positive way. The Lancaster Cohousing connection came about through a felt need to put into practice things I was encouraging students to do in China.^ top
I grew up in Cumbria, just up the Lune, and went to school in Kirkby Lonsdale. A long time ago I cycled overland to India, where I had many adventures, from landing a role as an extra in the "Gandhi" film, to living in a mountain top cave with a Yogi. I got into meditation which is still part of my daily practice. Every year I sit a 10 day silent retreat, and lived very happily in a community of meditators (in New Zealand) for a while. I've been vegetarian all my adult life and would now call myself a vegan. As I live frugally I only need to work part time - I am a nurse in a care home. I currently spend a lot of time doing stuff around our property.
I joined the forming community several years back and participated in the goup's process as we made decisions and choices about the eventual design and layout of the project. We use a consensus process, which takes time, and we needed a lot of patience and commitment before even a brick was laid. I initially found myself involved because, sitting with friends by a campfire late one night, I idly mused "why don't we live like this all year round? We could look after each other's children, and all eat together, so the food would be mostly vegan, we would have a hundred bikes and just one car, solar panels on the roof and compost toilets and all of that." Someone told me that I had just described Lancaster Cohousing, as the group was then known. Within three weeks I was fully signed up - their dream fitted so congruently with my environmental and communitarian beliefs and values. Now we are here, and while not everyone is quite so passionate when it comes to living out those values, the only thing missing from my camp fire wish list is the compost toilets - we couldn't seem to get consensus on that one.^ top
I’m originally from Preston, and have a daughter, Anna. I worked for years in adult learning and workplace literacy till Lancaster Uni closed down its Continuing Education dept :-( After doing a part time Ph.D. in Scottish Jewish identity at the University of Strathclyde I was lucky enough to get a job in 2011 carrying out a Scottish Government funded inquiry into the experience of Being Jewish in Scotland. Now I live in the Cohousing project I'm still doing some work with the Scottish Jewish community and travel up to Glasgow most weeks for work. The journey involves a beautiful half hour bike ride along the river - there's only one road to cross between here and the station! I'm also a director of Green Elephant, which runs Halton Mill, the wonderful refurbished former engineering factory on our site which we run as managed workshops, offices and studios.
I've spent quite a lot of time over the last ten years promoting the art of my aunt, Glasgow artist Hannah Frank, who studied at the GSA and died in 2008 at the age of 100.
Why did I want to live in the cohousing project? I always thought I’d suffer from ‘empty nest syndrome’ when my daughter left home, so I wanted to have other people around me when that happened. Though in fact my daughter moved in with me for the first year while she was doing a course at the local college!
I love the idea - now a reality - of a beautiful countryside site, sitting on my balcony looking at the river – but with people around all the time. I play English, Irish and European folk music on the melodeon and Klezmer (Eastern European Jewish) music on English concertina and was very pleased to find several more musicians in the project - we do a dab hand in country-specific tunes for different occasions!
As one of the people who joined for 'community' rather than 'environmental' reasons at the beginning, I have become a lot more environmentally aware while I've been here. This year all my travelling will be by sea rather than by air; now we don't have a car my daughter and I are very happy using the car club cars when we need to, or cycling; and of course the 'passivhaus' thing with low heating bills is now a reality and it's toasty-warm inside our houses in the dead of winter with no draughts!^ top
I am Lucy's partner and Martha and Eliza's dad. I am taking a career break in order to be a full time dad instead of a Quality Manager (I can thoroughly recommend this!) We first came across the group in 2007: I didn't know anything about cohousing but as a sciencey boy I was really attracted by eco-build. However, now we’ve had Martha and Eliza, I see the layout of the homes and the community side of the project as the biggest positive difference between us and a run-of-the-mill street – I just love being able to release Martha to run off on her own down the pedestrian street to play with Polly and her other friends.
I see our cohousing project as creating an old-fashioned street, where you can play safely in the road outside your house, and where you know your neighbours well enough to be able to borrow whatever you need from them, (but without the old-fashioned cold draughts in the lounge!) I love running and I sing in a couple of local choirs (there are zillions of choirs of all types in Lancaster!), and I have visions of setting up a cohousing choir and a cohousing running group.^ top
I have just moved back from Glasgow where I have been working for 7 years as a university teacher but have strong links with Lancaster, having first come to the university for a year in the early 1990s and not having left until work took me away. I am really enjoying living in my lovely warm eco house full time having comuted between the two cities for the last year. Walking down the street every day being greeted by the children playing witches who want me to look at the potions they are cooking up and stopping for a chat with neighbours whilst doing my washing are part of the joy of living here.
On the theme of cooking I have for nearly 20 years been going to a cooperative community in Scotland to help with one of their annual maintenance weeks during which I really enjoy cooking vegetarian/vegan food for 40 - 50 people and now have the chance to do the same in our cohousing project. A bit nervewracking at first it generally works out ok and it is nice to come home from my part-time job to a meal cooked by someone else which gives me more time for my outside interests.
For me cohousing is about rebuilding the sort of communities that I grew up in that we seem to have lost but as I grew up near Heathrow I think, given our rural site, that I have a whole new set of skills to learn from my cohousing friends! In terms of hobbies etc I like reading (particularly crime fiction), cooking, knitting, swimming (I even went in the Lune last summer though a little reluctantly) and I am geting involved with the Grand theatre when I return to Lancaster though as a "techie" doing props not a "luvvie" as I'm a bit of wallflower! Cohousing, for me, represents the ideal balance between my need for community and my contrasting need for private space.^ top
I am a freelance software developer and a musician. I love to cook food for friends and family. Cooking for 40 in the common house is a bit more of a challenge but very rewarding when it all goes well. I've already sung in the common house at our first new year's eve party, and at our next one I'm hoping it will be with a cohousing band – just one of the many projects I hope will come to fruition over the coming months of living here.
I came to Forgebank because I believe that for its collective survival and individual well-being the human race has to learn to share a whole lot better than it does right now, and joining Lancaster Cohousing gives me a great opportunity to act on that belief. An eco home and a river view to wake up to each morning are welcome additional incentives.
The diversity of the group is one of the things that makes it great – we are not all super-green vegans. I eat meat and don't think to do so is necessarily wrong, and nor for that matter are GM or nuclear power. But an awful lot hangs on that "necessarily". I live with Jo, and the discovery that she is as committed to this as I am has added a new depth and richness to my love for her; it is also a mightily reassuring confirmation that this is the right thing for us to be doing.^ top
Squatter, street performer, clown, carpenter, father, anarchist, peace activist, communard, Engineer of the Imagination, author and Green Councillor. I lived for 20 years at People in Common, a small alternative community in Burnley that grew out of the radical underground of the 1970s before moving to Lancaster.
I have worked in the construction industry for over 25 years, originally as a carpenter doing house renovations and for the last decade doing project management for community and voluntary groups. Cohousing has been something of a dream for the last ten years. I have nearly lived in some sort of communal set up for longer than I have lived in the ‘outside world’ – and on balance the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Living on your own has its attraction, but it is not all it’s cracked up to be!^ top
I grew up in London, now live in Sheffield and had never really thought I'd live in a small village in Lancashire. I came across Lancaster Cohousing in December 2011 and it just sounded exactly what I wanted - a way to live independently yet have a connection with others. I visited soon after and was impressed with how well the group worked together, how much had been achieved and how welcoming they were. And it has always been a bit of a dream to have a river or canal at the bottom of the garden.
I work as a project manager for my local council, managing bulding projects, and have a background in architecture. I am starting a course in stained glass conservation soon so not quite sure where that will take me in terms of work, but looking forward to doing something new. I play the saxophone and am wondering what the jazz scene is like in Lancaster - I hope I can find other people to play with occasionally. I lke to get out walking in the countryside and am looking forward to exploring the Trough of Bowland and getting so easily up to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Who knows I might even learn to kayak and get my old bicycle out. I am buying one of the Heron Bank houses. I can't move up straight away so will be renting my house for a year or so until I can move up - if anyone is interested in this please get in touch with the project.