Harmonious habitats: Eugenie Stockmann’s blueprint for co-operative living

A visionary in the evolving landscape of sustainable living and affordable housing.

Interview by Antony McMullen

Eugenie Stockmann stands out as a visionary in the evolving landscape of sustainable living and affordable housing. Her work, deeply rooted in the co-operative principles, has ushered in a new era of community-focused living solutions in Western Australia. Currently the Business Development Manager at Co-operation Housing (WA’s umbrella group for housing co-operatives), Eugenie has been instrumental in spearheading initiatives like the Kyloring Housing Co-operative, emphasising the significance of collaborative housing models that prioritise affordability, sustainability and inclusivity.

Eugenie Stockmann: Pioneering sustainable community living

Eugenie's journey into the realm of co-operative housing was propelled by her commitment to fostering affordable and sustainable community living. With a rich background in advancing collaborative housing solutions, Eugenie has contributed to the creation of award-winning projects such as Genesis and The Siding (by The Green Swing Pty Ltd). Her current role at Co-operation Housing involves expanding the reach and impact of housing co-operatives, providing a platform for her to advocate for change and educate on sustainable living practices.

"Co-operative housing offers more than just a place to live; it's about creating vibrant, supportive communities where everyone has a voice," Eugenie shares. Her work is not just about constructing buildings but about cultivating spaces that encourage collaboration and mutual support among residents.

The Kyloring Housing Co-operative: A model for the future

The Kyloring Housing Co-operative, situated within the Witchcliffe Ecovillage in Western Australia, exemplifies Eugenie's vision. This project is specifically designed for individuals over 55, focusing on four key pillars:

  1. addressing the needs of residents
  2. co-housing for older people
  3. sustainability
  4. ensuring affordability in perpetuity

The co-operative is part of a larger, highly sustainable ecovillage aimed at self-sufficiency, featuring residential lots, community gardens and shared amenities to promote a healthy, active community.

"The essence of the Kyloring project lies in its commitment to building around the needs of its residents, ensuring that the environment we create is both nurturing and inclusive," explains Eugenie. This approach not only addresses the physical needs of the residents but also fosters a strong sense of belonging and community spirit.

The Bunya Fund: Catalysing change

A pivotal factor in the success of projects like Kyloring has been the support from The Bunya Fund. This fund has been crucial in enabling the exploration of social investment opportunities and the development of community land trusts (CLTs), which are essential for the creation and sustainability of co-operative housing projects.

"The Bunya Fund has been a game-changer for us."
Eugenie Stockman

"[The Bunya Fund] has allowed us to navigate the complexities of funding and legislative requirements, making projects like Kyloring not only possible but successful," Eugenie states. The fund's support underscores the potential of social investment to foster housing solutions that prioritise social, environmental and cultural outcomes.

Five top co-operative housing tips

Drawing from her wealth of experience, Eugenie offers invaluable advice for those looking to embark on co-operative housing projects:

  1. Community engagement is key: "The foundation of any successful co-operative housing project lies in its community. Engage with your community early and often, ensuring that their needs and aspirations are at the heart of your project," advises Eugenie.
  2. Innovative funding models: "Explore diverse funding models, such as social investments and community land trusts, to secure the financial sustainability of your project. The Bunya Fund's support for Kyloring is a testament to the power of innovative funding."
  3. Sustainability as a priority: "Incorporate sustainable practices from the outset. Our work at the Witchcliffe Ecovillage and Kyloring focuses on environmental sustainability, which is crucial for the longevity and impact of your project."
  4. Flexibility and inclusivity: "Design your project to be flexible and inclusive, catering to a diverse range of needs. This ensures that the community remains vibrant and supportive for all residents."
  5. Empower through collective ownership: "Foster a sense of collective ownership and responsibility. This empowers residents, ensuring they have a vested interest in the success and well-being of the community."

Looking ahead

As Eugenie continues to lead initiatives like the Kyloring Housing Co-operative, her work serves as a beacon for the future of housing. Through her dedication to sustainable and community-driven living, Eugenie is not just building houses; she's fostering communities that thrive on cooperation, sustainability and mutual respect.

"The journey of co-operative housing is about more than just creating affordable living spaces; it's about reimagining how we live together as a community," reflects Eugenie. Her vision for a more connected and sustainable future through co-operative housing is not only inspiring but a necessary evolution in the face of today's housing challenges. As we look towards the future, the co-operative principles and practices exemplified by Eugenie and the Kyloring project offer a blueprint for building communities that are both inclusive and resilient.

Through collaboration, social investment and a steadfast commitment to sustainability and affordability, these initiatives are paving the way for a new paradigm in housing. It's a model where the value is placed not just on the homes people live in, but on the communities they cultivate and the relationships they build.

As we move forward, the work of visionaries like Eugenie Stockmann underscores the transformative potential of co-operative housing to not only meet the immediate needs of residents but to foster a sense of belonging and community that enriches lives for generations to come. In embracing these principles, we open the door to more equitable, sustainable and interconnected communities, illustrating the profound impact that thoughtful, co-operative living can have on our society.

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