Author(s): Robin Allison
In "Cohousing for Life", architect Robin Allison describes her journey from lonely mother of two in the suburbs to determined driver of the development of New Zealand's first cohousing community. It is a very personal story of a collective endeavour, a heroic journey of despair and triumph, as the obstacles mount and success at times feels far from certain. "Cohousing for Life" is also a distillation of what has been learnt: from formulating an inspiring vision to community governance and decision making; from community design principles to participatory design processes; from legal and financial structures to reflections on power and leadership. Robin details the key elements and structures that were critical to achieving their goal, allowing a group of diverse individuals with ordinary lives and skills to work together over many years to create a large, innovative, housing development.
Robin Allison earned a degree in architecture at the University of Auckland in 1987 and had her own practise in sustainable architecture for many years, while raising two sons as a solo-mother. In 1995 she initiated the project to develop Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood. As the Development Coordinator she was intimately involved in the entire development and construction phase from 1999 to 2008. Earthsong remains her home, and she now writes, teaches and consults around New Zealand to inspire and support thriving connected communities. Her workshops and seminars on cohousing have been a catalyst over the last six years for groups all over New Zealand, from Whangarei to Dunedin and New Plymouth to Hawkes Bay, to start working on their own projects.