Tuesday, 27 September 2016

All The Updates On The Past Year

Since it's been over a year since our last blogpost I thought I'd drop in and give an update on what's happening at Golem. In this instance no news is most definitely good news - we've had a fantastically uneventful year in terms of the co-op and everything is ticking along nicely.

Developments in the House

Every living room should have a hammock :)
Our fabulous living room of fabulousness is still going strong - and in what is now a fine Golem tradition, still isn't quite finished. We've now had two summers where we could fling the doors open to the garden. We've had many dinners with friends and family where everyone could get up from the table without having to get a whole row of people to move out of the way. The stairs may not be carpeted yet, but we do have a hammock which makes all the kids who come visiting (both big and small) delighted. It's amazeballs.

Half installed!
The lovely wooden floor has had some teething problems though, rising into a big hump in the centre in warm weather. The damp air of of our basement living room seems to be to blame, so we're working on various remedial strategies at the moment. Firstly we're routinely running a dehumidifier overnight to try to keep the damp down. Secondly we're fitting a cooker hood in the kitchen so that when cooking we're not adding too much extra moisture to the air. Thirdly we're looking at adding more ventilation to the two sealed up chimney stacks in the room. It's difficult working out how to help an old house, so we're trying multiple strategies.

In other parts of the house not much has changed, except that we're currently in the process of re-roofing the oriel window on the ground floor front bedroom. We had planned to do this when all the other roofs (eventually) get sorted but it developed a hefty leak and had to be dealt with sooner. Ironically finishing the roof is being held up by the rain this week, but soon it will be done. Almost every timber had to be replaced which is giving us a more realistic idea of just how expensive doing the other six roofs may end up being.

The garden has gained a pond (to the top right of the patio in this picture) and fully completed paving and has generally levelled up in fabulousness this year. Only the building of the green roofed shelter remains to be implemented from the permaculture design and the garden is serving it's various purposes well. It's certainly produced a lot of pumpkins this year, and there are two pears on one of the cordons for the first time :) We may redesign the lawn area after the shelter is built as it's not getting as much use as hoped, but generally the design has been a success.

Other News

Our members haven't changed at all in the last few years which is a great testament to the living situation here. Previously our plans for expansion included buying more houses locally, but Sven is spearheading a much more bold plan for an intentional ecovillage run on co-op lines. If you'd like more information or to be involved, pop along to the website or Facebook page to see what the haps are.

We're still happy to meet people interested in the co-op movement and to help with the setting up of any fledging co-ops within travelling distance. As members of Radical Routes we have the privilege of receiving support and wisdom from a lot of other co-ops - in fact, we couldn't do it without them - so if you're interested in starting a co-op, please come and pick our brains! 

- Hannah
There are now 3 sets of forks on the fan-trained plum tree

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Golem Work Day, May 25th 2015

Hello all!

I'm just briefly posting to let you know we are having a work day on Monday May 25th. There will be a range of jobs including painting, cleaning up wood before waxing it, sorting storage for our new tool room and, for those who love to smash things, lifting the remaining concrete in the garden and digging out any glorious Victorian flagstones that we find.

There will be a tasty noms provided for lunch and undoubtedly reams of tea and coffee during the day, and you can nose around our new communal room and fabulous garden. If you're interested in coming along for any length of time, then contact a Golem either via email, Facebook or face-to-face so we know who to cater for.

Hope to see you then!

- Hannah

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Looking for Loanstock

Well, I didn't realise it had been quite so long since we had done a blog post - and how things in the co-op have changed since then! Those of you who know us in person will have a good idea of the happenings at Golem HQ, but for those unfamiliar I will provide a quick overview. If you want to skip the overview, scroll to the bottom for the inevitable bit where we are asking for help ;)

In January we got some builders in to do a couple of days work building a cupboard and putting a new door into one of the downstairs bedrooms. We could easily afford the work though, so yay!

Two days later they told us that the house had started to fall down. We could still afford to spend a bit more so that was fine.

A few days after that they told us that actually it was falling down because someone in the past had removed almost everything that should have been holding it up. We started to feel a little worried about the money side of it.

*dramatic music* Suddenly there were props everywhere holding the place up temporarily, structural engineers and all sorts coming in and literally shaking their heads in despair at the work that had been done to the house in the past. We were wondering how much this was all going to cost, but it being that it's not really a very good decision to not stop your house falling down, we had to let the work continue.

At some point it became clear that the entire basement room of the house and half of the ground floor had to be completely ripped out, including whole floors, ceilings, walls and staircases. We thought, right, if all this is going on, let's also do all the work we know these areas need or that we want to make our house more suitable for communal living. Let's do it once, and do it properly, unlike all the people who had messed up the building before.

This is how we went from this (dingy, cramped, poorly laid out) communal room...

... to this :D Bright, airy, much bigger communal room with a more logical layout, better access to the garden and a dinner table which actually fits all the Golems around it properly. 

It's the shizz, really it is. But unfortunately the downside is that during the course of this work even more problems with other bits of the house were discovered on top of the things which we already knew needed doing (like all the roofs) so our things-to-fix list has become both shorter and longer at the same time.

And we had the cash to pay for some of it, and an unexpected loanstock offer to pay for the next bit, but for the rest of this job (and the others) we are wondering if you would like to help.

Loanstock is by far the most affordable and straightforward way for the co-op to borrow money, so if you would be interested in investing in a local housing organisation for a fixed period of time at between 0% and 3% interest, please do get in touch. I have added more information about loanstock here so that those of you thinking about it can get the details, but the very best thing to do is to come round for a chat and a cup of tea in our lovely new living room. Drop us an email at golem.coop@gmail.com and we can tell you all about it :)

- Hannah

p.s. In the course of all this it became clear that buying next door was a very challenging option financially and then it went under offer to someone else and that was the end of that. We are still hoping to expand in the near future and are always up for helping other people to set up co-ops. Getting the big repair work on this house done will actually contribute to making both of those things easier, so although it seems like a distraction it is all still helping toward our master plan. Phew!

Monday, 19 January 2015

We Need More Golems

So there's this house that lives next door and we are hoping to buy it and expand our hippy empire. It's shared accommodation with five bedrooms and communal living space, a kitchen and a garden. You can have pets, you can put pins in your walls, and you know those creatures called 'Landlordes', well... the bad news is, you still have a landlord. The good news is that YOU are the landlord.

If you want:-

- Control over your living conditions and accommodation
- A chance to live sustainably and share skills in living sustainably
- A chance to take a house out of the hands of the market for good; to perpetually provide affordable housing so long as there are tenants to occupy it
- To sack your landlord
- To kick the patriarchy in the face
- To grow and eat strange vegetables you've never seen before
- To decorate your living space however you see fit
- To live in a cult in a harmonious society with no rituals whatsoever. Honest.

We are looking to buy and renovate this property within the year, so we are looking for tenants to fill the rooms in late 2015.

Not a bad spot for a co-op
Here are a few other things you might want to know:-

-We welcome people of all genders, races, sexuality and species
- We don't mind if you are on the dole
- We don't rent single rooms to couples
- We have a crazy old dog

If you're interested, please get in touch! Come round for tea, have a chat etc.

Buying next door will give us twice as much garden to enlushify!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Our plans

So if you've seen our last post you'll know that we're looking for more people to join the co-op. So I thought it might be a good idea to try and explain what we're up to and what we have in mind for the future.

The way we see it, the co-op exists to provide people with decent quality housing that is affordable. We also want it to be able to keep housing people as their wants and needs change. At the moment we have one big shared house – which is great for those of us who live there, but is clearly not suitable for everyone, and there's a good chance that it won't be suitable for some of us further down the line either. We also don't want to keep the benefits of being part of a housing co-op all to ourselves. We've picked up a lot of skills and experience buying our first house, so we definitely want to do it a few more times.

But we also want to ensure that the people who live in the co-op are responsible for running it. We want the co-op to provide more than just housing – its also a tool for building community and organising ourselves. A lot of larger housing co-operatives are run by management committees and paid companies, with minimal involvement from most of their members, and we don't want to end up like that. So this means we're adopting a decentralised structure. Each house we buy will be the responsibility of the people who live in it – they get complete control about things like redecorating, and who else they want to live there, and take on responsibility for maintenance. With support and skill-sharing from the rest of us of course. We'll also be exploring what we can offer beyond just housing – one of our long term ambitions is buying land somewhere not too far from Swansea.

When we buy new houses, we won't simply be looking for a house and then finding people to live in it. We want to give our new members a say in which properties we buy and how we renovate them. This means we won't be able to offer you somewhere to live immediately, though we're pretty confident that it will be quicker than the two years it took us to buy our first house – we've learnt a lot from that process. But the upside of that is getting a property that suits you, and having a say in who you live with.

So if that sounds like something you'd be up for, see our previous post on expanding and email us the interest form.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Golem Housing Co-op is expanding

Are you interested in living in community, taking control of your housing, and maybe helping others to do the same?

We're a small, tenant run housing provider based in Mount Pleasant. We currently house 6 adults, and are hoping to house more soon.

We're looking for new properties to buy, and for people who want to live in them. Whether you've already got a group of friends you'd like to live with, or are interested in finding others with similar aims, we'd like to hear from you.

Our intention is to buy one or more additional properties in the Mount Pleasant area, and refurbish them to let out, either as shared living or as self contained units. As members of the organisation you would have a say in what property you want, what work gets done, and how it is managed. Please note that we are based in central Swansea and aren't looking to provide rural housing or land at this stage.

We'd like to offer housing to a wide range of people. We are especially interested to hear from people with children, and those over 35. We also have a preference for offering housing to people involved in their community in some way. But any interest will be considered.

Please be aware that joining a housing co-operative requires a fair amount of commitment. We aren't able to offer housing immediately, and housing you is more likely to happen if you can help guide the process – e.g by helping to develop business plans, do accounts, doing DIY and gardening. Though we understand that people have different abilities. And we have a strong focus on skill-sharing within the coop, so being willing to learn is as important as relevant experience.

If this all sounds good to you, we'd love to hear from you. If you'd like to live in a co-op, but ours doesn't sound like the one for you, then still feel free to get in touch as we may be able to find a way to make it work, or put you in touch with like-minded people.

DSS welcome.


If you're interested, please fill in the following form and send it to golem.coop@googlemail.com


Any children or other dependants:

What sort of accommodation do you want:

Number of rooms:

Shared living (e.g with others) or self contained:

How long have you lived in Swansea, and how long do you intend to live here?

Do you have any relevant experience or skills (e.g accounts, construction/DIY, gardening, previous experience living in a coop):

Are you involved in any community, voluntary or charitable organisations?

Golem housing co-op has a policy of preferentially housing those on lower incomes. Do you earn above £24,000 p/a (each or on average for couples), including any benefits?

Golem housing co-op expects its members to be living or working towards a low environmental impact lifestyle. Is this something you are comfortable with? Do you have any concerns?

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about? Hobbies, interests, experiences, future plans etc.

How can we contact you?

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Garden, One Year On

In the midst of Spring stirrings and sporadic flurries of activity at Golem HQ, there's been lots of time to ponder how far we've come on the garden and just how far we have to go. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) this introspective mood has struck almost exactly a year on from the grand finishing of the garden wall, so I thought a little then-and-now post was in order.

For those who don't know, or who need reminding of the horror which they have since sought to blot from their memory, our garden was piled high with landfill so random that we still laugh/cry about it now. Skiploads of polystyrene balls, broken glass and tiles, semi-rotted sofas, broken electrical items and who knows what else were carted off, leaving us still with a 4 metre high rubble landslide-waiting-to-happen and a deep fear of heavy rain.

It looked rather like this (and this).

 Skipping through a year of intermittent hard work, digging and letting nature do what it does best - healing the wounds of man's inconsiderate nature - we now have something... better. Not great, but a vast improvement and one which I'm hugely proud of.

Now I'm going to pic spam you to prove it.

Our lovely new wall painted with a sunshiney gradient :)

Our first artichoke!

We have ALL the broccoli :D

Our Bee Bed is coming along nicely.

Satellite view previously.
New satellite view - we made some green!

So this is where we start a year on. Some plants sprouting, some being harvested, bricks everywhere and a load of work left to do. Many, many thanks to everyone who has helped us to get this far (and it is a long list) and to all those who I'm sure will help us in the years to come.

- Hannah