Cohousing for Life

How did a group of ordinary, extraordinary people turn a bold vision into thirty-two eco-homes in a flourishing community? What can we learn from their experience to create new housing that supports us to be good neighbours to each other and to the earth?

In Cohousing for Life, 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.

What they are saying about Cohousing for Life:

“Rarely comes our way a manual for a better life which has the power of transformation. This book is a triumph – a vision fulfilled and a community created.  An absorbing read.” Sir Bob Harvey (former Mayor of Waitakere City)

“Robin’s book is a great combination of personal story and practical details. Anyone interested in building cohousing or ecovillages will find useful specifics as well as inspiration. As we feel overwhelmed about climate change’s impacts, it is a good reminder of what a small group of persistent ordinary people can do to make a difference.”  Kathryn (Katie) McCamant, Cohousing author, architect, and developer, Cohousing Solutions.

“I felt inspired reading Cohousing for Life, and awe at the heroic journey Robin and others went through. This is a story of tenacity, sacrifice and triumph. It illustrates what can be achieved with a strong vision, together with the passion, integrity and commitment to carry it out.
Cohousing for Life is a book for anyone seeking to undertake a brave endeavour or to set up a new way of living of any kind. It gives a clear blueprint to others undertaking such a project, realistic preparation of what it will take, and practical guidelines every step of the way.” Juliet Batten, author and mentor.

“Today, the Global Ecovillage Network reaches out to over 6000 sustainable communities such as Earthsong. This is no isolated phenomena. Be inspired by Robin’s seemingly ordinary, extra-ordinary story to transform your own life – and help chart a pathway to a regenerative future for all of us.” Kosha Anja Joubert, Executive Director, Global Ecovillage Network.

“Robin Allison is a pioneer in cohousing and has written a thoroughly engrossing book about her experience of designing and cofounding the Earthsong community in Auckland…I could not put the book down and was on tenterhooks waiting to see the outcome of the hurdles she and the project faced during the decade it took to bring Earthsong to life. Cohousing enthusiasts will love this book, but so will anyone with an interest in how to build community and stay true to your principles during a complex, long project.” Niki Harré, School of Psychology; Associate Dean Sustainability, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland.

“In her book Cohousing for Life architect Robin Allison documents the extraordinary achievement of co-founding and building Earthsong community. This moving account describes the loving and dedicated creation of an environmentally friendly village, as a working community, with all the struggles that such communities inevitably endure in order to become rooted, diverse, complex and democratic, in the true sense of the word. We so badly need such communities, especially in urban environments, at this turbulent time in the world. Projects like this are clearly the way forward for building resilience, offering low carbon living and a life which is close to the earth, bringing old and young back together again. This way of life is much needed as the global crisis rocks our foundations. I hope this readable and accessible personal account will inspire others to do the same.” Mary-Jayne Rust, ecopsychotherapist, author of Towards an Ecopsychotherapy, Confer Books, 2020.