Last week conscious coliving organized a meet up discussing the question of wellbeing in coliving and how can coliving foster wellbeing; The meet up was hosted by the Fizz Berlin. Hazem, our newest team member, joined the meet up and here are his personal thoughts/ reflections.
The meet up took place during one hot summer day, However people from various coliving spaces and other interested people joined with enthusiasm to share their thoughts, lessons learned, and ideas in an open way during the meet up. It was a small diverse group of people, different age groups and experiences but all interested/ working/ living in shared living spaces in general.
Although the words “coliving” and “community” have different definitions depending on your own perception, but lets just say that sharing a living space with people is defined as coliving or living with a community, so sharing a flat with 3-4 people, or living communally with 30-40 people are included in this broad definition.
Naima and Juan, from Conscious coliving, prepared a very nice structure for us to follow that day; after small conversations, each person introduced the one sitting next to him/her, then a small presentation on what are we going to discuss, another small talk from the host, The Fizz, explaining their projects and concepts, then we dove into the topic of Wellbeing.
We discussed 3 main issues, vitality, positive relationships, and emotional stability, after a general brainstorm on the 3 topics we were divided into 3 groups to discuss them in detail, I went for emotional stability group with Bettina and Nicolas, if I remember the names correctly, the community manager at the Fizz and a psychology students who is living there. I choose the emotional stability topic as I am not an expert on the topic and wanted to learn and hear different approaches.
Personally, I found this structure extremely helpful, as wellbeing is a very complicated subject and clustering the interconnected issues under just 3 categories makes the discussion easier and helps in the end to see a bigger picture.
Although we might seem to come from different “coliving” projects, we might have slightly different definition of what is coliving, who is a community manager or what is a community; but it seems that we are all facing the same challenges and we are all trying to find several recipes for wellbeing.
It was nice to see that we are actively trying to build communities that can live and prosper together, not forgetting the different types of individuals, we discussed how to build a community that is welcoming introverts as well as extroverts, how to find the sweet spot in between private space/ life and communal space, not forgetting the wellbeing of the people building this such as :community managers/ facilitators/ coordinators or relatively central people living in the community.
Living communally is definitely one solution to loneliness, but still it could be very intense and sometimes people need their own private time, wellbeing is also a very complicated and relative subject and each person has his/her own way in reaching mindfulness. Being aware of this is one step, getting to hear from other communities is another, and working together in reaching several recipes in relation to our own communities is the goal.
Personally speaking, I have been always sharing my living space- in other words, never lived alone- either with family or with friends / flat mates, or living temporary in a coliving space with 11 core people and many visitors, I can understand that this can be an intense experience and having a some kind of system/ self organized structure/ community guidelines/ ...etc not only helps in living harmoniously but also shapes the community as it develops and helps in attracting the people who can easily fit in.
Happy Pigeons is a relatively small community, and was interesting to get to know the scene from the lenses of bigger coliving communities, as well as smaller ones, This helps us in creating better communities and also prepare us in foreseeing the challenges of scaling up or growing our community.
My last general impression is that nowadays, coliving as a concept is apparently needed and could be a solution for some of our current challenges due to different reasons and changes that are happening in our societies ( speaking mainly about Europe ) discussing this with people who are building the scene in Berlin- a city where the shared flats is kinda embedded in the culture as well as cooperatives, bau-groups, cohousing and other intentional communities- is very interesting and could help all of us learn how to build better communities.
That's why, in the spirit of learning and searching for other praxis, we are hosting a discussion next week on Sept 12th on different forms of communal living to broaden the dialogue and hear different voices from Berlin, Naima Ritter from conscious coliving is joining the panel along side with our very own Tobias, Natalia from Projekthaus Potsdam and Max from Tiny House community in Weissensee.
To read more about the conscious coliving meetup, here is a nice summary published on their blog.