Search for “urban village” online and many of the entries that come up will refer to an urban planning concept of residences clustered near shops and offices. In some place it’s a fairly new idea that focuses on neighbourhood design. But an urban village is traditionally much more than a physical space.
It’s a network of relationships; a community of interrelated people. Similarly, a true urban village isn’t just a real estate grid and the marketplace exchanges that occur there. Among those who focus on sharing and the commons, it’s a term that refers to a collaborative way of life — a relatively small, place-based urban community where people cooperate to meet one another’s many needs, be they residential, economic, governmental, or social. In the process, they wind up transforming their own experience of that community. And these kinds of urban villages are on the rise around the globe.
And these kinds of urban villages are on the rise around the world, especially throughout northern Europe. Metropolises like Berlin and Copenhagen host do-it-yourself communities like Holzmarkt and the long-running Christiania. Israel is seeing a growth in urban kibbutzim. In South Korea, Seoul is aiming to establish “sharing villages” throughout the city. While ecovillages and intentional communities are still more popular in rural areas, where agriculture plays a key role, urban villages are seen by their proponents as a natural and obvious antidote to the problems of climate change, economic inequality, and social isolation.
(March 2017): The continuing dysfunction of New Zealand’s partially privatised electricity system has brought about blackouts, huge price increases, inadequate structure investment and still fails to provide reasonably priced and secure power. Already by Autumn some areas of Auckland have already had a winter’s worth of power outages.
Such outcomes from privatisation and the doubling of retail charges have been the norm, not the exception 1. Since its privatisation the national electricity grid has continue to malfunction and the pressure can be expected to build for it to be fully privatised 2.
Power Outage | Power Payouts
Aucklanders (inside the Vector section of the national grid) are generally unaware of the little-advertised section of their Terms & Conditions policy. Near the bottom of the OUTAGES page, under Residential Service Standards find the link detailed in this brochure.
Extract from the brochure (pdf):
“If we don’t restore your power within the timeframes outlined below, we’ve agreed with your retailer to pay you $50*. That’s equivalent to approximately one month’s line charges for the average household. The timeframes are: · 2 hours in the CBD · 2.5 hours in urban areas · 4.5 hours in rural areas. To make a $50 claim, you must call us to request it within six months of the eligible power outage on 0508 VECTOR (0508 832 867). *Please note: This payment only applies to faults on our network (not on your service lines) and does not apply to faults caused during storms and/ or other events outside our control (e.g. National Grid outages, where Vector is prevented from making repairs by emergency services etc.). If we have a direct contract with you, those terms will apply instead of this payment.”
Current power outages are shown on their website here.
You have 6 months to claim your $50.
The ‘Village to Village Network’ helps communities establish and manage their own aging in place initiatives called Villages.
In 2010, the Village to Village Network – a U.S-based organisation that collaborates to maximize the growth, impact and sustainability of individual Villages and the Village Movement – was formed. The Network provides expert guidance, resources and support to help communities establish and maintain their Villages.
For those interested in joining a village, what’s the best way? What’s the first step?
The best way is to check our website where there’s an interactive village map with multiple search options to search by city or state. There’s additional contact information if people want to get in touch directly, or they can also reach out to use and we’ll connect them to the local village.
If someone wants to start a Village, what are the first few steps?
Get on the website and explore the villages to learn more about the model. See what resources are available, connect with a village that might be somewhat close to your area, [and] see what other interest there is in your area. Are there other individuals interested in doing this? Are there existing nonprofits or organizations you can partner with? Is the local government interested? Start to gauge that interest.
This is not a one-person job so the more support you can get up-front, the better. Start thinking through what your village might look like. What’s already available in your community? What’s lacking?
Early partnerships are really important. Even if they’re not directly involved with starting the village, just plant a bug in their ear and see what kind of resources they could help provide. In return, see if there’s something the village can give back to them.
What makes a successful senior village? What are some tips to help it thrive?
They key is building up that strong sense of community. That’s what really sells people on the concept and idea. Some communities still do that well, but I think we’re starting to lose that. Whether people move or just get busy, that can be harder to come by. I talked to a couple villages recently that don’t have as strong a sense of community as they would like. They’re trying to build it up by letting their members know that they have a community and a network of support, not just a ride to the doctor, but someone to talk to or lend a helping hand.
Aging in place is a really great concept, but it can be isolating. If you don’t have children or other family living near you having someone to check in on you, or bring your groceries once a week, or make sure you’re getting out of the house and participating in things, can be an important piece of this.
Are there other challenges senior villages face? If so, how are they being addressed?
Broader sustainability of the village model is the biggest challenge, especially revenue and revenue diversification. Villages are really trying to keep their membership affordable. Membership only covers 40-60 percent of their revenue so they have to figure out how to fill in the gaps.
Being more for-profit business minded when it comes to building partnerships and bringing in different revenue streams is really important. We’re looking at, and focusing more on, what some of those other models for nonprofits or associations are. We can help educate our villages about resources we can provide and partnerships we can provide that might trickle down to them and bring more sustainability to the movement as a whole.
What other tips can you offer for those interested in joining the senior village movement?
Even if you’re just exploring the idea of a senior village, we have an introductory membership that’s $100 for six months. It gives 10 people in your community access to all our resources, including the Village 101 Toolkit and our discussion forum, to see what’s there and what this is all about. You can start exploring in your community and see what might be needed.
The Philadelphia region has over 100 co-ops, but only four worker-owned co-ops.
Here is a new film which highlights these unique businesses and the people who own and operate them. The 15-minute film, Capitalish, profiles all four of these worker co-ops from diverse industries. The oldest co-op, Childspace Daycare Centers, owns and operates three childcare centers. Home Care Associates, a home health care agency, was inspired by Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx. Alliance Taxi Co-op, a taxi-driver owned dispatch company, was formed in 2014 out of the labour organising work of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania. W/N W/N Coffee Bar is the newest worker co-op. The worker owners at W/N W/N (pronounced “win win”) celebrated their one year anniversary of being open in January 2016.
The four worker co-ops featured in Capitalish are challenging dominant logic about the way that they ought to relate to workers, consumers, the community, and other businesses.
The film was released online for free by the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA), a “chamber of commerce” for co-ops of all sectors and a non-profit dedicated to growing the cooperative economy.
Share your desire to take positive action and create a better future
“The problem is not the lack of a collective desire for a positive future but the lack of a collective vehicle for positive actions”Randy Powell
Around the world there are hundreds of thousands of groups and organisations who have social justice at the core of their objectives. Imagine if the millions of members of these organisations, recognising their shared objectives, began to connect and work together on a local level to take real, meaningful action starting in their own communities.
The Coeō Network attempts to link people through Circles of Interest which can be searched globally, nationally and locally. Members (Solutionaires) are self-profiled, and can create events within Circles.
As a tool for individuals, this website will serve as a directory of groups and organisations, from large international organisations to small local community groups. You can choose to receive notifications and updates from the groups that you support and connect with other users in your area who support the same groups as you.
It claims to provide the tools to connect organisations and community groups with a wider audience, enabling collaboration with other groups who share those same objectives. This is a massive project with what seems to be a rather vague rationale. Eventually though at some point it could be a valuable tool for building grassroots organisations outside the corporate envelope. At present New Zealand is hugely under-represented.