Co Hope

In the eighties, my brother Jack & Martine created – with 2 other couples-leaders – a Co Hab project.

In 2011, my wife Odile told me :

« Hey Chris, I want to create a Co Hab ! »

Le Coteau de la Chaudanne is the result of this desire.

In 2011, we visited several existing Co Habs in the region.

In each and every case, the people who welcomed us made a « romantic description » of the building process.

In each and every case, I « took » a guy of the project appart and asked him :

« How was it really ? »

Then the face of the guy changed dramatically and expressed how hard it was.

And the guy said to me : « It was very hard ! »

The Method

Around year 2000, Diana Leafe Christian, made a study on the succeeding – and failing – Co Hab projects.

In 2011, she talked in Lyon and I took her method to apply it to the future Coteau de la Chaudanne.

I phrase the method with my own words :

  1. Having a « strong » Charter of values
    Values should not be confused practical stuff.
    For exemple, for France, « Liberty, equality, fraternity » = all the living together in 3 words.
    See the charter of Le Coteau de la Chaudanne.
  2. Having a « strong » decision making process
    For the Coteau de la Chaudanne :
    Any idea is considered valid unless there is a contradictory view which is :
    – informed (references to laws, geologic knowledge, etc.)
    – documented (the information is clearly presented in a written form
    – argued (the articulation with the initial idea)
  3. Have all the made decisions « engraved in stone »
    i.e. having an online document repository with the documents clearly presented
  4. Train the team about these three points and the general process of decision making in a group.
  5. The challenges of financing, creating and building together are exhausting tasks.
    Having an additive challenge – having partners who need help, energy, etc. – is very dangerous for the project.
    If the financial load, etc. is taken by a public body, the reality is different.
  6. Respect the law
    People who engage in Co Hab projects are often « rebels ».
    Individual rebellion can be heard but the Project must respect the actual social rules.
  7. Have strong third parties to be present for each and every important decision.
    Some project have a lifelong « consultant ».
    As the challenges of a Co Hab project are of very diverse nature it is very difficult to find a consultant who is the right person in any situation – finance, geology, etc.

The traps

The terror of confrontation

Rugby players, lawyers and trade unionists are familiar with confrontation.
Peter Sloterdijk defines what is needed :
« Live hot and think cold. »
The terror of confrontation comes from the difficulty to 1. Think cold 2. Argue 3. Relax

In certain situation, a Co Hab project may face the terror of confrontation.

Then it leads to alternative ways.

Alternative 1 : A decision is made against the interest of the whole project.

Alternative 2 : A decision is made against the rights of some of the stakeholders.

Alternative 3 : Exploding the decision itself.
For exemple when a choice has to be made between two providers, one of them is defamed.

Alternative 4 : No decision is made.

For exemple, a land to be built needs to be drained, if the decision is not made, the inhabitants will have their feet in the water forever.