Our intentional co-housing community is much like a freshly created village, with a diverse group of individuals who have come together to share land and buildings in order to foster the kind of life style for ourselves and our children which is difficult to find elsewhere in modern Britain. At Laughton Lodge we try to find a good balance between private family life and the public life of attending to the responsibilities and considerable maintenance that come with owning and managing communal land and buildings.
Each month we attend a three hour business meeting where we make decisions about budgets and expenditure. Most people belong to one of the subgroups that represent the different aspects of life here – finance, maintenance, lettings, land management and future developments – where we try to keep on top of the myriad tasks that continually crop up.
In addition, the first Sunday of every month is a group work day when we tackle chores and jobs that benefit from many hands. Every Friday evening there is a pot luck supper for anyone who feels like eating with others. There are countless other times when we help each other out with babysitting, lifts, care of children, dogs, chickens, horses and pigs, parties, advice and friendship.
Sharing your home with 70 other people is not always easy. While we all try to be considerate and helpful there are times when our needs and views conflict with those of others. But the benefits of shared space and the skills we develop over time in dealing with differences outweigh the challenges.
While we do not have long term homes to rent some individuals do share their homes with people who rent rooms from them through private arrangements.
We welcome people lodging in this way to take an active part in the community although in order to become a director of the company it is necessary to be a lease holder.
Living in a co-housing community is an intense and rewarding experience. There are many relationships to be negotiated and decisions to be made, jobs to be done and bills to be paid.
But above all we hold a collective vision about neighbourliness and what it is to share resources and space. Thanks to the mix of people and the beautiful place in which we live, serendipitous things happen which are fun and funny and memorable, and which enrich our lives in ways we could never have imagined.
The children develop social and democratic skills and are exposed to a wide variety of events and people.
Our total is far greater than the sum of our parts.