Well, loanstock was secured in Summer 2014 and the mortgage arrived before Christmas so works are very much full steam ahead, with some quick-wins via various contractors underway.
More slowly, we're doing the fiddly bits that we can do ourselves, and the missing piece is enough members. If you want to live in beautiful borderland, sharing management of a diverse seven acres and a three-house renovation project, being your own landlord by paying £240 a months rent, committing a day or two a week to our building renovation, and much more time and thought to managing and using our land and workshops then read on.
We need four more realistic grown-ups, capable of sharing, listening and getting on with it, to live in the 6-person shared-house part of this 13-adult project.
Please read widely on this website and fill out an application questionaire if you're still intereste, after clocking that there's still a lot of work to do - childless couples or single adults are what we need in the mix right now.
If you're after inspiring pictures, not words, then here's a link to our easilly explored Flickr photo-website:
Here's our updated membership call-out, as on summer 2015:
Changing a housing co-op (communal set-up) into a co-housing project (separate households) was always going to be a lot of work, but now we're at the key and hardest stage of recruitment. We need 4 new members who want to share a kitchen and bathroom.
All existing members apart from Jed and Tomas are now working away on their own kitchens and bathrooms, with the end in sight.
The majority (7/9) are in favour of new applicants who have practical confidence for the ongoing refurbishment. Jed and Tomas value sensitivity, sociability and idealism more highly, to make the shared house the kind of place they want to live in. Demanding the impossible, we want both really!
Until the new kitchens and bathrooms are completed, 7/9 do not want to host extra visitors, a major factor in us not hosting the summer gathering this year.
I really hope we can host the Radical Routes Summer Gathering in 2016, but the culture needs to shift in order for this to make sense, and that is all about the next new members we recruit.
We need 4 new members who are comfortable enough with other people, to want to share the house and land with bigger events – camps, courses and gatherings. The 3 big rooms in the house that are perfect for hosting events are still clogged up as workshops and building sites. Imagination, investment and patience are required (also, it's not easy to find paid work round here).
Finding people who see the potential of events-hosting as a bonus rather than a compromise is depressingly hard. To wave the carrot as well as the stick though, members help manage 7 acres. Much of these are very un-managed right now, but could provide part of land-based livlihoods in forestry, coppicing, veg' growing and fruit orchards.
There is also good shared workshop space, and the personal bedrooms in the shared house average at 75 metres squared. The much larger shared rooms are all potentially beautiful as well as already enormous. It's beautiful here, and we'll even have central heating in time for winter.
Apply soon - the next year is key. Please spread the word that we need 4 members for a 6-person shared house.
So, Earthworm Housing Co-operative. What's that?
What..? A housing cooperative is a “non hierarchical property management company”. It's an organisation which lets people work together to manage the accommodation they live in without having to buy it.
Where..? We are situated in Herefordshire on the outskirts of the village of Leintwardine, close to the borders with Wales and Shropshire and very close to the River Teme. We are 8 miles from Ludlow and Knighton, 14 miles from Leominster, 25 miles from Hereford, 27 miles from Shrewsbury and our nearest big cities are about 2 hours drive away (Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool or Manchester). Herefordshire is one of the most sparsely populated counties in England, but we aren't really a remote location. For more information about our locality click on “what we offer” above and read on.
How..? Earthworm Housing Co-op has existed since 1988 when it took over the long established Wheatstone Commune (click on 'history' above if you're actually more interested in what this place used to be, than what it is now). Earthworm is a fully mutual housing co-op – all members pay rent and all members share the decisions about how this rent is spent. Were putting off gardening our seven acres until we've significantly improved our three unique buildings. More about how it works in “how we self-organise” and "Work commitment", which drop down as options when you hover on "what we offer" above.
Who..?There have been over 75 members since 1988. In November 2011 there was a complete change in membership and control of the housing co-op. The current 9 members are working to refurbish and renovate the co-op, so that it becomes more comfortable, sound, fuel-efficient, stable and sustainable.
None of us live in yurts or benders - we are no longer a ‘super-low-impact vegan co-op’, we use and own motor vehicles and we are committed to living in the buildings and working in the buildings and on the land. There's lots more information about our plans on the rest of this website, which we hope leads to more people getting in touch with an interest in becoming members or volunteering.
Though we're a housing provider, we also run this housing co-op as a business, together. If you are _just_ seeking cheapish housing this is not the place for you, but if you want to help manage and utilise land and buildings, it might be.
When all the residences are finished we'll turn our attention to the 4-rooms+camping conference facility that will exist here, running short courses and gatherings.
If you're more interested in what happened before we arrived, there's an article about the history of the place on pages 8,9 and 10 of issue 65 at the Leintwardine Life website:
The Buildings... The main property is 'Wheatstone House' which was built in 1909, along with a stable block comprising workshops with a flat above and a smaller “lodge house” which all together can be home for up to 15 adults plus children, in a mixed model with some self contained flats and a spacious shared house too. We are substantially improving the accommodation and moderately changing the layout. There is also a 30-year-old timber-framed barn, 3 polytunnels from the '90s, a hundred-year-old green house and a nice modern static caravan. We share orcahrds, gardes, woodland and a few good workshop spaces too.
The Land.... contains a kitchen garden, two well established orchards, lots of soft fruit and mature trees. We have our own wetland system which deals with the water from washing and flushing. We also have dry-composting toilets, but you don't have to use them. We also have small areas of meadow and an acre of woodland. There's more information about our land and our plans for it, in the “land” section on this website.
If you have never heard of “co-operatives” before, do read http://www.cda.coop/coopprinciples.htm for a very general outline of what it means to be a co-operative. The rest of this website is full of specifics about Earthworm Housing Co-operative.