Jenny, Coho/US Outreach Associate
The U.S. Cohousing Association is a national organization but strives to acknowledge relevant happenings in the wider world related to cohousing. Last week, Elephant Journal, a grassroots news organization with a focus on mindful living, interviewed Steven Ablondi and Bryan Bowen about their work with Memel.Global based in South Africa. Of course, cohousing principles radiated throughout the conversation.
Steven provided a background for his work in the town of Memel, an area still suffering the aftershocks of apartheid in South Africa. Steven’s career with the UN placed him in challenging, rewarding situations, a far cry from his previous career path as an investment broker studying Law in Vermont. His time in Africa afforded him meaningful opportunities to work with refugees, who even among chaos and poverty, still lived with dignity and a deep-seated resilience.
There is an inherent human need to fuel one’s purpose, and Memel.Global continues to provide opportunities for locals, visitors and volunteers to contribute to community building. Most who have attended past National Cohousing Conferences have had the opportunity to hear first-hand from Steven or Bryan about this organization’s transformative work. Memel Organics Cohousing is currently a community of 15, with 30 homes in the works under Bryan Bowen of Caddis Architecture’s direction. The community will be constructed with locally-appropriate earth-building techniques and permaculture gardens. A social component was needed to accompany the environmentally conscious one, and so cohousing ideals were expertly folded into the plans.
Currently favorable exchange rates mean architect-designed garden cottages there can be purchased from $39,000, and there are no restrictions on foreign ownership. There are plans to subsidize half of the first-built units to foster affordability for local buyers. The team is in the process of looking for investors and construction loans.