Earthworm is a housing provider and also manages 7 acres of land. We need to recruit new members who bring skills and enthusiasm to help renovate our three buildings, and use and maintain our seven fruitful acres. All members pay rent, which is the only income of the co-op (in the short and medium terms at least), and help to maintain and improve all our resources; both people's personal spaces and the areas we share.

 

The co-op has smaller units with their own kitchens and bathrooms, and a 6-person shared house.  The rooms aren't all ready yet - we need people who will come and help us make them!

 

Cats and Dogs

Despite being quite roomy, our co-operative does not suit independently-spirited young dogs.  We have a main road down one side, a field of sheep down another, and the housing estate over the road is full of cats and children.  We already have chickens (and bees) and we would consider nice calm, housy cats when more of the renovation is over, so we wouldn't share with a dog that liked to hassle cats.  We're not anti-dog - we have two - but dogs that live here need to want to stay with their people, and not run off and get into trouble.

 

Paying the extra for organic and ethical

The land and buildings are planned and designed using environmentally sustainable principles and we need people who appreciate and value these.  Residents of the flats, the Lodge and the shared house all get a wholefood order with a lot of organic and fair-trade sourced items.  Buying in bulk together saves us money, but sustainable soap and food are not cheap to begin with.

 

We have space here to grow a lot of our own fruit and veg, which we do without weedkiller, insecticide or ploughs/tractors.

 

Skills Wanted

Any housing co-op needs some diligent members to manage the membership process, accounts and rent books, research and obtain quotes for maintenance that we can’t do ourselves, and keep on top of the maintenance that we can manage ourselves.  In addition for the next few years Earthworm Housing Co-op is a large scale renovation project including work on brick work, roofing, plastering, plumbing, electrics, glazing, insulating, fencing, and building/rebuilding kitchens, bathrooms and some interior walls and exterior windows.

 

 

If you don’t have any such experience, but you do bring much enthusiasm for the project, some aptitude for practical work and an interest in learning more, then we'd still love to hear from you. The existing members have varying skill levels and we need new members who have the capacity and the initiative to engage with the renovation and guide their own learning and research. For a collectively-managed project of this scale, you will need to be patient, diligent and self-motivated to get involved in the work.

 

We ask for a minimum of three hours per week of each member's time, working for the housing co-op. Most members work elsewhere for money, but at the moment we need members who can also afford to spend a lot of energy on the renoavtion.  If everyone worked fulltime elsewhere, it wouldn't work. There's more information about this balance, and how we manage it, in the “work commitment” section that you can read by hovering on the "what we offer" menu above.  Ideally, the next recruits can commit 1-3 days per week to the renovation.

 

 

People who are Environmentally Minded

At Earthworm we have the opportunity to reduce the energy use and pollutants from our buildings and in the future we'll grow more of our own food. We use organic principles in the growing of food, and try to manage our land in the safest and most sustainable way we can. Some of our members have a lot of experience in gardening, land management and permaculture.  Some are or have been campaigners on issues as diverse as animal rights, genetically modified foods organic agriculture and nuclear power.

 

When the whole co-op makes a decision about purchasing cleaning products, building materials or things for the garden and grounds, the wider environmental impacts of those imports are considered. We have an excellent library specialising in environmental issues, nutritional health and the politics of food and power.

 

Sympathy and tolerance towards radical politics and alternative lifestyles

You don't have to have any knowledge or experience of radical politics, alternative lifestyles, organic growing or direct action to join the co-op.  It is expected, however, that you are sympathetic or at least tolerant of such ambitions.  (You need to be able to confidently guess whether the current membership tends to "pro-" or "anti-" on the list of issues above, though you don't have to agree with them on any point!)

 

People Wanting to Live and Work, or Retire in a Rural Location

To live here you will need to know how you will make money for your rent either through working, a pension or claiming housing benefit. We want new members to have sustainable and fulfilling ways to earn their daily crust or fill their time.

 

Earning a living in a rural area isn’t as easy as a city and it takes ingenuity and perseverance to make a business work or to get a job. To work locally you will need a motor vehicle or be prepared to catch the bus or cycle to local stations.  There are far fewer buses than you'd be used to if you come from a town or city. With our acres and workshops, Earthworm Housing Co-op may be a good base from which to run a small business.  Living close to others who might have similar interests can create a productive web of people, projects and opportunities.

 

We do understand that not everyone can work and we've never been nor would want to be a co-op with totally homogenous members. We definitely have niches for people not in paid employment or retired, and we already include people concentrating on raising families.  We will consider all applications. Please give us lots of information especially if your situation is complicated, and do read the rest of this website to get an idea of where we're coming from, and what we hope to achieve here.

 

 

People who can handle the Renovation Process

 

Earthworm Housing Co-op is in the process of renovation.

 

As well as being very rewarding, it is hard work and not a little disruptive. At present, it's very messy and will remain in a state of unfinishedness for the next 5-7 years, depending on the powers of the next people we recruit..

 

For our plan to work, we need to recruit more members who are also excited about this work, and the learning within it.

 

In 2012 most members spent the majority of their waking hours planning, budgeting, researching, repairing and working on the house and grounds. With that initial “nesting” well on, we have since becomes much less “full time”, and new members are the key part of this approach to sanity and sustainability.

 

 

The Renovation

In 1909 houses like ours were built to burn a ton of coal a week. Coal didn't travel far (from Wales or the surrounding English counties), and the Victorians and Edwardians didn't think it would ever run out, so the draughtiness of their buildings wasn't considered a problem. The fact that ash makes surfaces really dirty really fast wasn't seen as a problem either, because there was an acceptance of a "servant class".

 

The changes we are making to our buildings are extensive, because the assumptions that informed its original construction don't fit with our current ideals of sustainability, energy consumption, social-equality and health.

 

We have redesigned our property in places to make it easier for different people to live here; not everyone wants a shared kitchen forever or to share with children. Some would describe our redesign as a move from “commune” to “co-housing”. Separate small kitchens and bathrooms have made some parts of the co-op quite ordinary flats.

 

There will always be a 6-person shared-house part of the co-op too, which suits some members best. We look forward to meeting new people who are capable of keeping communal kitchens and bathrooms pleasant and tidy!

 

We are committed to preserving and improving what we already have, not building new structures like straw bale houses, earthships or benders. Though such structures can be more "efficient" or "low-impact" than an old retrofitted building in some ways, we have made the decision to preserve and improve the existing resource and we need new members who share this aim, and are excited about it.

 

In order to achieve our aims we are currently living through a few years of disruption, (eg, scaffolding, floors up, wiring exposed, moving furniture around, generating loads of mud..!). We won’t be giving ourselves reduced rents or rent holidays though, as we need the money to make the improvements, and we’re happy enough in the knowledge that we are doing something that is very worthwhile.

 

We agree that this investment of our time, money and energy in the short term, takes us closer to the kind of lives we want to live in years to come. For example, we are really looking forward to sharing this place with people who can't handle the current rough edges.  Some of us are also looking forward to doing less commuting, when a means of livelihood is right here at Wheatstone House, but we need to work hard now for that future.

 

As might be clear from all this, or clearer still from a visit, the accommodation is changing and improving all the time, and won't be “finished” for a few years yet. Lots of decisions have already been made about the renovation, and we'll share the detailed plan with you if you progress through the membership process, or volunteer often.

 

We hope that new members will be as excited as we are about saving and improving our buildings and happy to wait for further improvements to come later.  We also hope that keen gardeners (ourselves included) can bear to concentrate on the buildings for another couple of years at least.

 

This is all a big ask, but surely the right people are out there, ready for the opportunity of this totally beautiful place.  Please apply, realistic grown-ups who can share, act and listen...