Re: Regenerative Villages & Affordable Cohousing
From: Hafidha Sofia (
Date: Sun, 2 May 2021 17:50:30 -0700 (PDT)
Thank you for the summary!

Sent from my iPhone

> On May 2, 2021, at 5:00 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
>> wrote:
> I attended the conference I posted about a few days ago—late notice and I 
> knew none of the people but I took a chance. It was wonderful. The biggest 
> takeaway is that in order to build low cost cohousing, we need to think 
> bigger. Doing it with 30 units is too small to cover all the fixed 
> construction costs like expert advice, permitting, etc. There are just some 
> things that don’t get cheaper with size. The other reason is that a larger 
> project is more likely to be eligible for a wider range of funding. 
> The Regenerative Village model is basically cohousing on steroids. Some 
> people are building off grid but the most exciting projects are large — 
> village size with a school, shops, permaculture, food growing systems, etc. 
> Two (at least) speakers detailed the process of developing a plan that can be 
> presented to investors. How to do it and what to avoid. Very specific 
> presentation by Franco Capurra who has been financing regenerative villages 
> for 9 years. He has had several companies that invest in sustainable real 
> estate with a purpose projects. 
> He is doing something very interesting now in the US. He finds apartment 
> buildings, finds investors, purchases and rehabs the buildings with people in 
> place, and then begins an education plan about village living, 
> sustainability, etc. What others here have talked about in terms of buying a 
> small apartment building and turning it into cohousing over time as people 
> leave. He does all this professional level business and investment plans 
> paying 5% dividends and money can be withdrawn in 5 years. The only issue he 
> came up against was the the interested investors were Republicans. He saiid 
> he finally resolved that for himself by realizing that if you want to 
> convince the world about the importance of regenerativity, starting with 
> Republicans is a good place. And you convince Republicans with return on 
> investment.
> One of the advantages of cohousing is that we have a model that is very 
> successful and has been duplicated many times. I haven’t heard of any 
> communities that have failed once they reached construction. We know all the 
> pieces that work and why. The issue of scale is important but the rest has 
> been tested. And Capurro himself has now tested a larger model even if he 
> doesn’t call it cohousing.
> His buildings are also rentals because of legal issues related to certifying 
> investors. He has worked out a non-profit/business model so the residents 
> control the building.
> The other talk I found most interesting was by a futurist from Australia, 
> Tony Hunter, who spoke about Resilient Food! Greenhouses, Vertical Farms, 
> Automation. Basically space age buildings, relatively tall and large — 
> geodesic dome looking — in which food is grown all around inside the 
> building. This brings nature inside to the people instead of people out to 
> the country to nature. He gave a lot of figures on people moving to cities. 
> That’s where they want to be and they will move there no matter what — they 
> will just be miserable unless the housing issues are solved.
> One repeated message was that we need to do more with less. What is the most 
> efficient way to produce high quality food? Hydroponics. I’ve been reading 
> about this in other places--guaranteed quality, organic, and uses 3 times 
> less water. The lobby of one of his buildings grows broccoli and an office 
> grows hanging plants from planter over head. Trees on balconies up the whole 
> side of the building clean the air, provide shade, and create restfulness.
> Being dependent on technology makes me uncomfortable but people are 
> installing back up systems. And unless we can get people to adopt a one child 
> policy, people are multiplying too fast for any other option than technology. 
> I wanted to ask if the pandemic had made any dent in population growth but it 
> is probably too soon to tell. Other authors have suggested that the plagues 
> in Europe brought great wealth to countries by reducing people who required 
> food, etc. They regularly balanced the population and resources.
> In looking at low-cost housing, I found that there are tons of ways to build 
> safe and secure low cost housing but zoning won’t allow it. If you build out 
> in the country there is no zoning but you have the added costs of running 
> electricity and water and sewers to the buildings. And even roads. But the 
> the biggest problem is jobs — there just aren’t a lot of jobs out in the 
> desert — and commuting makes the advantage of affordable housing mute.
> In the city the only direction, as Alan Ohashi has said, is UP. Tony Hunter 
> says the same thing and has examples of this being done and avoiding the 
> sterile office tower feeling of most condo buildings with 30 stories of 
> offices pretending to be homes.
> And even more exciting, I hope, is that all this gives life to an idea I’ve 
> been playing with for years but had no idea how to even begin: Buy a building 
> in the center or near center of the city and put commercial on the first 
> floor and cohousing upstairs. The Regenerative Village concept looks at the 
> community as a whole — food supply, energy production, etc. A whole building 
> allows putting the shops that everyone wants/needs on the first floor — 
> places to buy milk on Sunday morning, vegetables everyday, and other services 
> like medical offices, daycare, tech support, hardware store, etc. It would 
> supply what most residents of city centers are finding missing: plain old 
> everyday shopping.
> In DC if not other cities there is also a need for safe short-term rentals 
> for young people or scholars who are here for fellowships, internships, or on 
> research grants. They need something like a one room micro unit with 3-24 
> month leases. The second floor could be made up of these, perhaps with some 
> larger units for those with children. We have rented to at least 2 of those— 
> one from Germany with 4 children and one from Spain with a child and a dog. 
> The first two floors would thus provide income for the community. Depending 
> on the size of the building, another floor could be the CH with some 
> amenities on each floor, like laundry facilities.
> A large project like that would seem to be attractive to investors and would 
> make it possible to hire the expert help to convince them of the viability of 
> the project.
> I don’t know if people can join the conference after the fact by paying for 
> access to the videos but they will all be online.  3 days of one hour videos. 
> Some were on meditation and personal growth and some were not very good, but 
> there were enough good ones to be worth $95. And the materials are also 
> online to download. 
> Right now I’m out of brain width.
> Sharon
> ——— 
> Sharon Villines
> Affordable Cohousing begins with 30% of your income, not 80% of someone 
> else's.
> affordablecohousing [at]
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