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Social Architecture

The social construction process of cohousing communities

Johan de Kleuver • Boek • paperback

  • Samenvatting
    You often talk about it with your friends. How nice it would be to live together. All the things you could and would like to do together. It's not just an idea, it really is your dream.

    In recent years, there has been an increasing desire among people to pursue and build on that dream with others.
    It takes time, you know that, and you are willing to invest it. Then the second and third years go by. People have started to join, but some of them have already left again. The group keeps changing. Will this dream actually materialise in the end?

    It is estimated that at least 90 per cent of starting groups will not succeed. But why? How can you build on your dream with a higher chance of success? From my experience, I’d advise you to start with a good foundation and articulate the pillars of the community you want to build. And based on that, look for suitable supporters. Who has ideas that foster connections and complement existing ideas? Who will work with you on a shared dream from a similar keynote in life?

    Each chapter provides guidance across various domains, from leadership to architecture, and from decision-making to finances. This book is there to help you make your dream concrete and to establish a successful starter group. From the very beginning, you can work with a clear community profile that immediately creates unity and commitment.

    Living in your dream, isn't that the greatest thing there is?
  • Productinformatie
    Binding : Paperback
    Distributievorm : Boek (print, druk)
    Formaat : 140mm x 210mm
    Aantal pagina's : 128
    Uitgeverij : innova consultancy publishing
    ISBN : 9789464816532
    Datum publicatie : 11-2023
  • Inhoudsopgave
    1 Introduction 9
    1.1 History
    1.2 Social Psychology
    1.3 Philosophical considerations in starting a community
    1.4 Are you a 'starter', a 'founder'?
    1.5 Will we succeed in starting a community that will last?

    2 Social architecture - what is it about? 27
    2.1 Vision development: The reason for existence
    2.2 Group size and composition
    2.3 Regulating distance and proximity: the in-between space
    2.4 What and how much you want to share with each other
    2.5 The energy balance

    3 Development processes and fundamental choices 61
    3.1 Starting a community: processes of inclusion, influence and affection
    3.2 Concurrence of the group dynamic and project development
    3.3 Recruitment and selection
    3.4 Leadership and decision-making
    3.5 Meetings
    3.6 The physical environment of a community
    3.7 Finances
    3.8 Legal form
    3.9 Choosing the physical form

    4 Building a profile of the desired community 107
    4.1 Vision and objectives
    4.2 What you share with each other
    4.3 Ownership
    4.4 Group characteristics
    4.5 Leadership and decision-making
    4.6 Group activities
    4.7 Area
    4.8 Profile of the desired community

    Literature and publications 121
    About the author and editors
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1.5 Will we succeed in starting a community that will last?

I sincerely hope that you will succeed! Really living the dream you once
had is wonderful. However, the reality is that most initiative groups fail
to actually realise a project. Because there are many hurdles to take and
resistances to overcome.

With this booklet, I hope to increase the chances of realisation. In our
inception phase, we investigated why things often fail and tried to find
answers to them. We then applied that knowledge and managed (with
some pain and effort) to achieve a sustainably functioning project. Then
also begins the period of ‘living in and with the dream’ which can be very
meaningful for yourself and others!
Once conflict management or mediation becomes necessary within a
group, the question is how well you are going to come out of this as a
group. Because relationships are at the core of a community, members
are often inclined or compelled to accept each other in disagreements
as well. This can contribute to points of conflict becoming dormant until
there is an eruption. And then the whole preceding history often comes
up. This makes conflict management within a cohousing community a
complicated thing.

Social architecture can contribute significantly to preventing these escalations
from occurring.

In ‘Creating a life together’, based on research and extensive interviews,
Christian describes ‘Why ninety percent fail’. The causes and/or characteristics
mentioned are characterised as ‘structural conflict problems’. These
mainly involve initiators’ failure to make certain core processes explicit in
the start-up phase, creating potential time bombs (Christian, et al., 2003, p. 1).

Hence the assumption that good design and processes are vital for
conflict prevention. This is why conflict management within groups has
not become a separate topic: there is plenty of readily available material
written about it. Does this mean that conflicts cannot arise in our project
because we were careful with design and group processes? Certainly not,
but based on the processes described, we are able to avoid many conflicts.
And if they do arise, we have a solid foundation from which we can seek
deeper connection with each other quickly enough to prevent escalations.
We had been living in our project for almost a decade when a
researcher of experimental housing in the Netherlands came
on a working visit on behalf of the Ministry of Housing. When he
asked the question, “How did the initiative group relate to the first
resident group?”, I did not understand the question properly at
first. After explaining that we had built the group incrementally,
then developed the project and then we had started living here
incrementally with each completed apartment, the researcher
thought his question was misunderstood: “There are people who
take the initiative, the group expands, eventually the apartments
are completed and the house keys are handed out. How many
people from the original starter group have disappeared by then?”
My answer: no one. He could hardly believe it, he had never
heard this before. On average, 50% of the initiative group had
disappeared, regularly even 100%, mainly due to conflicts and the
overly long development time. “You are a white raven!” was his
surprised exclamation.

Our assumption is that all this has to do with the aforementioned ‘structural
conflict problems’. What we have come to call ‘social architecture’
focuses on all these structural problems that need to be handled well,
especially in the start-up phase, if the initiative is to lead to a realised
project. ×