A presentation and discussion with activist-scholar Anitra Nelson, whose forthcoming book from Pluto Press argues for smaller homes with shared spaces and facilities
Houses and apartments in countries like Australia and the US grew larger in the 20th century as household sizes shrank. Not only does this make housing less environmentally sustainable but contributes to the housing affordability crisis. The US mortgage fiasco triggered the Global Financial Crisis and many countries have experienced fluctuating or skyrocketing house prices since. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of state support for social and public housing means private ownership or rental seem like the only options for most people.
The solutions analyzed are not just smaller dwellings in compact settlements but also shared spaces and facilities. The presentation will look at a range of practical options from co-living in a household to cohousing and ecovillages, weighing up the pros and cons of the tiny house movement and assessing the potential and limits of radical squats along the way. Anitra considers collaborative housing/living futures managed by quite different drivers: governments, market developers and sharing economy initiatives, and grassroots communities. Anitra has had ten years’ experience living in two distinctive Australian housing collectives but her forthcoming book is research-based, especially drawing on ecological footprint studies.
Anitra Nelson is an activist-scholar whose research interests focus on housing and community-based sustainability, environmental justice and non-monetary futures. Associate Professor at the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia), in 2016–2017 she was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich completing Small is Necessary: Shared Living on a Shared Planet (forthcoming). She co-edited Planning After Petroleum: Preparing Cities for the Age Beyond Oil (2016), Sustainability Citizenship in Cities: Theory and Practice (2016) and Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (2011).