Community benefit is a core objective for this social enterprise which we achieve in several ways: developing the ecovillage, providing affordable housing, amenity land and conservation, strengthening community organisations and catalysing change in the Findhorn Foundation Community.
Developing the ecovillage
– Our master plan was developed with extensive community consultation which continues at all stages of the development.
– We are grounding the co-housing concept in the community further with developer-led co-housing on East Whins and on 1B we are facilitating a residents-led co-housing cluster.
– Community Land and Housing Trust: In support of the developing concept of the land trust and affordable housing DL agreed a land sale in 2006 with the Soillse co-housing project. DL gifted 1/3 of the sales price to Ekopia to enable them to provide housing support to members of the Soillse cluster. Ekopia has created a Land and Housing Trust and developed various housing support policies to assist community members in finding affordable housing.
– The infrastructure of the ecovillage has been enhanced in many ways: recognising that our development will increase traffic within The Park we contributed 1/3 of costs for the new and safer entrance to The Park as far back as 1998. The community’s windmills are located on Duneland property which ensures a potential for expansion of the community’s energy production in the future. The soak away for the innovative Living Machine sewage treatment plant also lies on our land.
– We were able to rationalize land ownership and access for both, Duneland and the Findhorn Foundation with a series of land swaps.
– The new development is providing a diversity of housing at The Park with rental accommodation, shared ownership and private ownership. With phase 1 of the Magic Triangle development housing stock at The Park will increase by 20%.
– The housing needs for people living here already are addressed as we implement the results of a detailed housing survey. That we are getting it right is demonstrated by the fact that of the 17 units available for presale on East Whins all were spoken for within a few weeks. The majority of prospective buyers have lived in the community for many years.
– The Magic Triangle provides land for a number of associated educational, community and commercial buildings to enable small businesses, arts cooperatives and charities to improve their setup.
– Mixed use culture is enhanced through the type of resident attracted to the East Whins Cluster as well as through the flexi-unit concept which allows for small business premises. Mixed use is perceived as an important objective in mainstream town planning and is considered a remedy for many ails of modern society.
– Establishing the Green Burial site has provided a very special service to this community and others in the area.
Providing affordable housing
– As a developer Duneland is obliged to provide a set percentage of affordable houses. In negotiations with Moray Council we have been able to create an innovative model for affordable housing in perpetuity without government funding (which is in short supply). This allows for a local allocations policy which will enhance social integration and community building.
Amenity land and conservation
– The first major project after the purchase of the estate was to set up the Findhorn Dunes Trust in 2000 to protect 175 acres of precious dune landscape in perpetuity. As the trust is managed jointly by members of the Ecovillage Community and residents of the village of Findhorn this has contributed significantly to increased integration of the two communities.
– In 2006 we initiated the Findhorn Hinterland Group to put the land management of the buffer zone between the residential and wilderness areas in a proactive collaboration between the different communities on the peninsula.
– As stipulated by the community in the master planning process in 2006 we set aside 50% of development land on the Magic Triangle as amenity land. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the fire pit, the dancing green and access to dunes, woodland and the seashore.
Strengthening community organisations
– The community association, New Findhorn Association (NFA), benefits from an increasing membership with active involvement as we are able to house committed community members who have been around for a long time. This strengthens the emerging village structures as the diversity and sustainability of the community grows.
– The Title Holders Association (THA) of The Park benefits from an increased number of titleholders who wholeheartedly support the deed of community conditions as drawn up with the Findhorn Foundation in 2004. This will spread the load for responsibility for the private estate of The Park. We take the deed of community conditions further by enshrining a % of resale to be donated for community benefit (towards infrastructure and for affordable housing). This puts long-term financial structures in place that will support ongoing sustainability.
– To the Findhorn Wind Park (FWP) we provide land and access for the windmills with a potential for future expansion as well as an increased customer base for the electricity generated.
– New Findhorn Directions (NFD), the trading arm of the Findhorn Foundation, is strengthened by the expanding community base that creates a more viable local economy. The increased amount of land looked after by NFD through its Housing Company wing (HoCo) generates a better economy of scale for staff and equipment. The addition of 13% of new adopted-standard infrastructure, that will not require any significant maintenance for some years to come, will allow investment in other areas of out-of-date services. Also there are specific additions that benefit the whole such as a newly built holding tank funded by Duneland which will reduce the risk of flooding of the sewage pumping station.
– Our active involvement in the community’s planning committee (Park Planning Group (PPG)) brings a wider community perspective as well as an evolving scope and range of eco-materials and methods.
– All businesses based at The Park benefit from the increase in a population actively engaged with the values of the Findhorn Foundation Community as we all work together to create a more viable local economy.
Catalysing change in the Findhorn Foundation Community
As the community approaches its 50th birthday we move from family/group/community into the next triad of village/town/city. By physically expanding the ecovillage this next stage is brought about and this forces the whole community to look at culture, structures, governance and organisation. The Findhorn Foundation (FF) is no longer the sole major landowner within The Park, a sympathetic landowner next to the FF land allows different ways of relating and integrating to evolve and offers more possibilities for the community to grow in the future. And as this is done in a co-creative and collaborative way there is the potential for this growth to be a win-win situation for both the FF and community. Discussions of stewardship of common land (solum) has to be revisited: presently the FF is holding the solum for the THA and is therefore responsible for it. As the Magic Triangle brings much more land into the solum with the large areas of undeveloped amenity land this forces the discussion to be reopened and gives opportunity to bring about a more responsible and accountable role for the whole community, locally but also the worldwide network of supporters of this spiritual community who feel a sense of belonging and home for this place.