In this week’s episode, Amrit interviews Ben Irvine and Simon Wade, who have come together to build an intentional and organic community in Eltham, a beautiful place in the heart of Victoria, Melbourne.
Ben, Simon and Amrit talk about the project, their vision and how they are going to manage the power dynamics and challenges that pop up, what inspired them to go on this journey and the resources that guide them, and the importance of eating together. They also talk about community and why it is so important to live life outside the paradigm of what we all call normal and live differently.
After watching pioneer architect Charles Durrett’s presentation on cohousing and doing a lot of research, Ben decided he wanted to build a community far away from isolation. A village where he could live together with his loved ones and others in community creating close bonds. A village where the members could feel free to have their own beliefs, ways of being and ways of relating to the community.
With this idea in mind and having partnered with a developer, Ben got in touch with Simon to be his left hand. Simon, in total agreement with this vision, agreed to be part of this new project.
This project consists of the development of 26 private dwellings for 40 adults and following Charles Durrett’s Danish model and book “Creating Cohousing” where he describes the whole concept. This successful model lays emphasis on community, sustainability, village living, shared resources, affordability and eating together.
The village is not founded on ideology. From a business point of view, Simon refers to it as a decentralized movement with bottom-up decision making instead of top-down hierarchies of demand and control. They talk about agreements and self management but with the relational space as the centre.
They gather frequently in circles to talk and move forward. Every meeting starts by sharing a circle and eating together. Amrit refers to it as “breaking bread together”. These are the most important factors for healthy and successful community cohesion, especially when facing power dynamics. This relational space helps everyone come into resonance with each other and have a harmonious relationship, which allows new ideas to arise and decision making easier.
Ben believes community feels like something we have to learn how to do again. Simon believes it is about embracing the fact that we live in a relationship with the earth on which we stand, with our family, friends and loved ones and it is our job to turn this relational space into a beautiful one.
They share the same vision. In today’s society, there is a lack of community they would like around them. Every family lives in their own atomic unit often disconnected from the people around them facing adversity and doing things by themselves.
These guys want to reimagine life as a place where people can learn from each other and give support and encouragement. A place where people connect and thrive at all stages of life, where kids don’t need to rely only on parents and can thrive growing up with community and other kids as well and a place where the elder’s don’t have to live alone any more.
- Welcome Ben Irvine and Simon Wade to Inspired Evolution!: (00:00:00)
- About Ben and Simon’s project:(03:01)
- About Simon and Ben’s visions coming together:(07:39)
- Powering a community without an ideology:(20:52)
- About the serendipity indicating they were both on the right path:(32:04)
- Deciding factors in terms of intentionality behind to the location:(34:13)
- Simon and Ben’s interpretation of agreements:(37:01)
- The importance of community according to Simon and Ben:(43:53)
- Menergy website: https://menergy.org.au/
- Cohousing presentation by Charles Durrett: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01H2YVarugA
- “Creating Cohousing” book by Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant: https://amz.run/4oZH
- Property Collectives. https://propertycollectives.com.au/
- “Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World” book by Tyson Yunkaporta: https://amz.run/4ocA
Connect with Simon Wade:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonvwade
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcNUmeb-pAVi5ka26uFUIow
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/simonvwade/
Connect with Ben Irvine:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/afriendlikeben
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/benmagnusshibari/
Join the Inspired Evolution Community: