top of page

Space in common

By Jessica Dunne

Government responses to the interrelated climate, biodiversity and housing crises impelled me to explore alternative ways of living. I am emboldened by the ambition of Tiny House Community Bristol (THCB) to envision an alternative future in which intentional communities thrive and creative collaboration prevails. In the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, the mirror pivoted to reflect a world defined by social death, overconsumption, and hyper-surveillance. The watchtower had cast its long shadow over the Garden of Eden. THCB is the antidote to the dominant culture of individualism, rapacious exploitation and disconnection.

“Hopelessness isn’t natural. It needs to be produced. If we really want to understand this situation, we have to begin by understanding that the last thirty years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a kind of giant machine that is designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures” (Graeber, 2008).

We have been denied the possibility of imagining alternative trajectories. We must hold on and create hope. Imagination and collective action provide the means to cultivate social space and shape a just and sustainable future. “Imagining the future can drive societies towards change by shaping common practices, aspirations and institutions” (Wyborn et al., 2020). The futuring process begins with the creation of common space to envision societal transformation. The work of THCB matters because it involves the construction of a social space within which to discuss ideas, share stories and practise envisioning. “Social space is a product of our connections with each other” (Massey, 2013). Social spaces are suffused with memories and stories. People survive by sharing stories.

Through my participation in the sociocratic circles of THCB, I have observed that collective learning is important for the development of agency. Agency is the capacity to influence one’s circumstances and affect change:

“The exercise of individual and collective agency is contributing increasingly, in virtually every sphere of life, to human development, adaptation, and change. At the broader social level, the challenges centre on how to enlist these agentic human capabilities in ways that shape a better and sustainable future” (Bandura, 2006).

We occupy a liminal space in which the mirror has swivelled to reveal the possibility of an alternative way of living characterised by sufficiency and collaborative consumption. Collective learning and cooperation engender understanding, financial independence and ecological responsibility. THCB exemplifies the power of envisioning and collective agency.


Recent Posts


Search By Tags

bottom of page