Welcome to the show notes for this first episode of the podcast Coliving Conversations, a show that shines light on the people, projects, and places of the blossoming coliving movement!
In this episode, join co-hosts Naima Ritter Figueres and Dr Penny Clark for an insightful conversation with Gui Perdrix. Gui has been a catalyzer and operator of several coliving spaces, director of a global association for coliving professionals, and author of two books on coliving. Dive into this episode to explore key findings from his book “The Art of Coliving.” Plus, listen to Gui’s tips on how to avoid some of the most common mistakes AND how to create transformative coliving experiences at scale.
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Key Resources mentioned in Episode 1 (Season 1)
Click on the links below to see where they were mentioned in this episode.
There you will find a link to the original source.
- The Art of Coliving: Gui’s latest book. After interviewing 200+ coliving organizations and professionals, the Art of Coliving brings together industry best practices, insights and frameworks to help you create outstanding coliving spaces and experiences.
- The Community Facilitation Handbook: A holistic framework to make communities flourish. It includes strategies, tools & and more. Coliving Awards 2021 “Best Thought Leadership Piece” Winner.
- The Conscious Coliving Manifesto: This framework serves as a guide for building connection-centered communities. By creating such communities, we can shift towards a happier, healthier and more sustainable world.
- Mindvalley: Mindvalley is an innovative personal transformation learning platform covering all the essential life skills that regular education ignores.
- Ecstatic Dance: A form of dance in which the dancers, without the need to follow specific steps, abandon themselves to the rhythm and move freely as the music takes them. The dance serves as a form of meditation, helping people to cope with stress and to attain serenity.
- Creating a Life Together: A wonderful and practical book by Diana Leafe Christian. It provides step-by-step practical information distilled from numerous sources on how to establish an intentional community
- The Wisdom of Trauma: Documentary by Dr. Gabor Maté, best selling author and expert on trauma, mind, body health, and addiction. This film offers a powerful vision for hope, compassion and the healing of our world. Trauma is the invisible force that shapes lives. Dr. Gabor Maté seeks to build a more understanding system that is more focused on individual healing.
- Nonviolent communication: An approach to communication based on principles of nonviolence. It is not a technique to end disagreements, but rather a method designed to increase empathy and improve the quality of life of those who utilize the method and the people around them.
- Inner Development Goals: a framework of transformational skills for sustainable development.The current IDGs framework represents 5 dimensions and 23 skills and qualities which are especially crucial for leaders who address SDGs, but fundamentally for all of us! It is the greatest possible accelerator to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and create a prosperous future for all humanity.
- Criticisms & Potential of Coliving: An exploration of the multiple criticisms that coliving developers and operators face. And, the potential of coliving for residents, neighbourhoods, cities, businesses and the world.
About Coliving Conversations
The first season of Coliving Conversations will kick off with new podcasts aired every two weeks and can be listened to on many platforms including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast and at ConsciousColiving.com/Podcast. This show asks the question – how is shared living already tackling some of the biggest challenges that we face today AND how can we scale it in the way that the world needs?
You will gain insight into the latest trends shaping the industry and hear loads of practical tips related to shared living business models, technology, and investment as well as how to enhance community, wellbeing and sustainability. Each episode will shine insight onto the latest trends shaping the industry and discuss multiple successful case studies with loads of practical tips.
Season 1 Partners
Full Transcript: The Transformational Power of Coliving
[00:00:00] Naima: Want to learn what exactly coliving is, why we need it and how to scale it? Let’s find out.
Welcome to Coliving Conversations, a show that shines light on the people projects and places of the blossoming coliving movement.
Hi, my name is Naima, Head of Community and Wellbeing at Conscious Coliving, and I’m here in the studio today with my co-host for this episode, Dr. Penny Clark, who is our Head of Research and Sustainability at Conscious Coliving. Penny is one of the leading researchers in this field. She recently completed her PhD on coliving and co-housing and sustainability from the University of Westminster.
[00:00:53] Penny: Hi Nama. Thank you so much for that kind introduction. Great to be in the studio with you. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation.
[00:01:04] Naima: In this episode, we’re gonna go on a journey to begin to explore the transformative power of coliving. Why is this so important to talk about today?
[00:01:14] Penny: So talking about the potential of coliving to catalyze transformation is really important given the many crises that we are facing globally. And what I mean when I say that is the crisis of loneliness and mental health, the crisis around housing access and affordability, and of course the environmental crisis, which we all face. And we see that coliving has a huge potential to help address many of these issues.
[00:01:40] Naima: Absolutely. And today we get to dive into all of this with Gui Perdrix. Now, if you’ve been in the coliving scene for a while, then you definitely know who Gui is. If you’re new to the world of coliving, then first of all, welcome. And let us give you a little intro on him.
[00:01:58] Penny: yes. So Gui has been a pillar of the coliving movement since it began. He’s been a catalyzer and an operator of several coliving spaces. And now he’s director of Co-Liv, a global association for coliving professionals.
And he is also author of two books on coliving. His latest book is The Art of Coliving, which captures insights from research that he’s carried out with over 200 operators from around the world. And he’s also co-authored the award-winning Community Facilitation Handbook, which you can access for free on ConsciousColiving.Com. So it really is a treat to have this chat with him today.
[00:02:35] Naima: Yes, a real treat, indeed. And to give a little overview on this conversation with Gui, we are gonna talk about how coliving can be such a transformative and life enhancing experience, what’s behind the name Art of Coliving, key findings from Gui’s book, and also how to avoid some of the most common mistakes that coliving operators make.
[00:02:58] Penny: And stick around to the end, as Gui will share his top tips on how to scale transformative shared living.
[00:03:05] Naima: Yes, you don’t wanna miss out on Gui’s nuggets of wisdom. So we’ll listen to the conversation now, and then Penny and I will be back in the studio with some reflections afterwards.
And quickly, before we dive in, I wanna give a big shout out to our partners without whom season one of coliving Conversations would not be possible. These are Spaceflow, the all in one tenant experience platform to enable better life buildings, Coly, a scientific profiling and matchmaking platform for shared living and GoHumanGo, a collective of professionals supporting people and planet.
Okay, so let’s get into the conversation! Enjoy!
[00:03:56] Gui: Hi, what’s up Naima.
[00:03:57] Naima: Welcome to the show! Really excited to be doing this first episode of Coliving Conversations with you, so thanks again so much for joining us today! And to jump right in, how would you define coliving and what does it mean to you personally?
[00:04:16] Gui: To me co living has always been like one of the most, transformational experiences. I know not only for myself, but for a lot of people that went through it. And so that really motivated me to enter the coliving industry.
Coliving is when more than two biologically unrelated people live together. So a family in a house is not a coliving. A couple is not a coliving, but when three friends, four friends live together to me that can be considered as coliving. So that’s kind of my definition. And I would say like, it has to be voluntary because if not, you could say like prisons or hospitals, or even cruise ships are coliving spaces.
And there should be also residential elements, meaning it should be a primary home. So that’s what I would consider as coliving. And then from there you have different definitions. So coliving as an asset class has a different definition than coliving as a general industry term, which would mean people sharing common areas and it being offered as space as a service. And also Co-Liv’s definition is very specific. We define coliving as communal living. So where more than two biologically unrelated people live together and share common resources, but it has to be life enhancing.
And a lot of operators also say, coliving has to have a focus on community. Now, whatever community means, cuz community means a lot of different things to different people.
[00:05:44] Naima: Gui, you’ve mentioned that coliving can be a life-enhancing and transformative experience. Could you expand a bit more on this? What is it about coliving that makes it so transformative and life enhancing?
[00:05:58] Gui: Well, imagine the following, when I was living in Paris, that was like five, six years ago. And I had an apartment. My daily routine would be to go to work where I had a lot of social interactions after work. There would be some bonding time. And then after that I would go home. Now the issue is that the most free time I had was after 8:00 PM, cause there’s nothing scheduled in there. And there also time when I was by myself.
In coliving, you have, you live with other people. That means you have a higher amount of interaction points, which means also that you have more amounts of moments where you can connect with others and through connection, you can learn from other people, you can create stuff together. And so to me, it can be life enhancing because the amount of interaction is just proportionally higher than if you were to live by yourself.
And at the same time, I know that maybe some of you who are listening right now, you might think, oh, I had a bad student experience. Or like, for example, I had one where I was living as a student in a bad room or like in, in a dorm and, and it didn’t go well. And that’s because, well, you know, if you don’t have the right people, or like are not aligned living together and you don’t have the right processes, it can also turn sour.
So, I think that’s, where like the whole beauty and challenge lies. And I think if the certain basics are done right, it’s freaking amazing. It’s kind of like coliving to me is like living life on a highway. You know, you just go through life at 10 X speed and I, just can mention so many examples of like business relationships, and couples that get formed at coliving spaces. The amount of personal transformation of people realizing like, oh, wow, like I, I had an identity before as something and now like that identity dissolved because I realized I identify as something else too. And it’s just strong.
[00:08:03] Naima: Yeah. Well, I, love that. And it’s like, yeah. If we are living in a way where we can use these interactions with others as opportunities for really learning about ourselves, for improving our emotional intelligence and our communication skills, then it’s a chance to enrich our lives and to grow on many levels.
So to dive a little deeper, Gui could you tell us what’s behind the name of your book? Art of Coliving. What is it that makes coliving an art?
[00:08:40] Gui: Yeah. So at first I thought it was a science, because the way I analyzed it, my question was how can we replicate life enhancing experiences at scale. What you encounter a coliving industry, which right now is still very broad, is on the one side you have small, coliving operators that are very niche, where sometimes the founder even lives on site and have very strong sense of community, very strong sense of experience. So here it’s not housing as a service it’s housing as an experience.
And then on the other side, you have, urban, coliving spaces that are usually, optimized for having a lot of people in one building and also optimized for having a greater lifestyle in urban settings. And here it’s mostly space as a service. So my question was how could, how can we combine the two and how can we create coliving spaces at scale that remain very strong on the experience.
And so what I found out was that it’s actually, it’s a science first. You know, there are very specific criteria, very specific processes that you can implement. You can implement processes in the branding, the way you communicate. You can create processes in the vetting system to get the right residents. You can create processes in the onboarding to welcome residents, to integrate them into the community. And you can create processes in the actual coliving experience, such as having members run their own events, such as having members being involved in the community building. So all of these things are just purely processes that can be implemented. Same thing as business model, how to source real estate, et cetera.
The art comes from differentiating yourself. It’s about finding your unique differentiation points, your unique way of delivering that science to people. And so at the end, it’s, I think it’s more an art. It’s kind of like, I always say it’s like a painter, right? A painter uses techniques, and these techniques have been documented and are taught at schools, but at the end, he’s a painter is not a scientist.
A painter is also an artist because what truly matters is not which techniques that person uses, but what the ultimate creation is. So that’s why it’s the art of coliving.
For example, you at, at Conscious Coliving, you published the Conscious Coliving Manifesto, right. And I know a lot of coliving operators like were influenced by that, by the way. Great work. So that, for example, to me is almost like like a science. There’s three fundamental pillars: connection with self, connection with others, and connection with nature.
And then you have like certain key values that can be implemented. But now from these pillars, you can still create so many different concepts. You know, are you short term or long term? Do you wanna attract the niche community or a wider audience? S you need to find your own positioning in all of that and define for yourself as an operator what coliving is.
[00:11:34] Naima: And I think it’s also about how to nurture and facilitate that community experience. Right? Because as you were saying, there’s this science part with all these concrete things to be in place, but we can’t just throw people into four walls, put in a few processes and say, that’s community. The art is also about how do we actually get people to connect, to open up and trust each other to, to share with one another and to engage.
[00:12:05] Gui: And remember when we co-wrote the Community Facilitation Handbook? Especially you wrote most of the third section, which was all about all of the tools, methodologies that community managers facilitators can apply to living communities, to foster them. But here too, you know, there’s so many different ones and it really depends on the culture.
For example, I’ll give you two examples. In the last coliving retreat that we hosted, we first had a food system, where we, as the operator would buy the groceries. And then, and people would put on the list what they wanted. And then they would be able to cook and we had like shifts. It worked out well at the beginning, but then it’s turned out that half the people actually didn’t like that system because they had a very specific diet or because they didn’t eat at night. And so we had to change. So even here a system was implemented the beginning, but it doesn’t mean that the system stays forever.
And we adapted it then and half the people opted out and half do people stayed in. And the same thing about, you know, maybe you can talk about that too in the organization, but you use like certain rituals such as emotional sharing circles. And that can be done too in coliving spaces, but there are certain people to whom that is not welcoming or almost like scary to do, right.
So maybe instead of sharing with words another types of activity that you can do is more like physical bonding activities: going on a hike, overcoming certain challenges. And that is bonding because then suddenly you don’t come from like the mind space, but you come from the heart and body space.
So, there’s so many different nuances that I think as a community operator, community facilitator, you become more aware of in the long run.
[00:13:45] Naima: Yeah, I love what you’re saying about offering opportunities for people to connect in an embodied way. That’s super important.
So I’m really curious to hear from your own story, Gui, how did you come to coliving and how does your background weave into everything that you’re doing?
[00:14:05] Gui: So coliving first appeared to me back in 2015 when a friend of mine who was an entrepreneur got stuck in Budapest. He was doing a world tour on his bike and it started snowing. So he got stuck there and he invited a bunch of his entrepreneur friends and created a coliving space. And then from there I was like, wow, that’s amazing.
And then with him, we tried to create these bunch of several houses like this all over the world where people could like travel and find their communities.
That didn’t happen. And then it took like two more attempts to then create the first coliving space that was called the Lifestyle Engineering house. And here it was almost like coliving by accident because, you know MindValley?
[00:14:51] Naima: Yeah.
[00:14:52] Gui: Yes, totally. So they have a bunch of courses around personal developer and personal growth from brain training to emotional intelligence. And they host once a year at MindValley University, which is like a one month physical program in the city. And you have like 500 to thousand people who come. And so I attended that in 2017.
And at that moment, I was almost completely broke, it was the beginning of my nomadic journey and I called it my friend and I was like, Hey, I got a ticket. But to be honest, I don’t even know if I can afford housing. And he said like, don’t worry what your problem is somebody else’s problem. And so here we posted the Facebook group, and we realized that from like the 400 attendees, he still had 40 people who didn’t have a house like two weeks before the event.
And that was like the eureka moment. And we literally, in two weeks built a landing page, set up everything, found a property of 400 square meters in the middle of Barcelona, with an 80 square meter terrace, got like all of the money, et cetera. It was a big mess and that’s how it started.
And then with my best friend Renat, we kept on doing these houses wherever we would travel. So we opened them up in Tulum in Mexico. And then back again in Barcelona then in Thailand, And then in Estonia, there was the last one. And then from there I had, I realized the transformational power of coliving.
I myself have always been very intrigued by, well, not intrigued but called, by personal transformation. Mainly also because I was a very different person in the past, struggling with many things that I don’t struggle with today. And I saw coliving as a force for good.
But I had to make a choice, whether I become a coliving operator and try to replicate my concept, which could have been a path, but in this case, I would have to focus not only on learning how to create experiences, but also learning how to build the entire business, which has to do with real estate, with invest with team building, et cetera. Or do I want to specialize in how to create these experiences and work with all of the operators that exist out there.
And I took the second approach. Mostly also because it was more in line with my skills. I love thinking, I love connecting dots. I love connecting people. And this is where the whole coliving journey began, where I started doing the world tour, where I visited hundreds spaces, where I interviewed like 200 coliving operators.
And then I became director of Co-Liv, brought in all of that network into the coliving organization. This is through which I met Matt and Bart and Ryan. And we started Coliving Insights back in 2018. And this is how the journey started. So that’s been kind of the background, on why I went into coliving.
So it’s, you know, it’s not so much about coliving in itself. I think coliving is just a means to an end. The question is what’s the end to you. And I wanna help push the industry and help push operators to realize it’s not about putting people together. It’s about what is the outcome for putting people together and how can you create an experience’s actually gonna impact something in their lives.
And it doesn’t have to be super transformative. I’m not talking about like, you need to go there and change your entire belief systems, but at least, you know, change something, maybe offer them access to wellness, offer them access to professional growth, offer them like one specific area that they’re going to leave your space and be a more rich human being. And rich in terms of inside.
[00:18:18] Naima: Yeah. Wow. So fascinating to hear about your story and how all of these pieces have woven together. I also identify as a connector of people, so very much resonate with you there.
And, I wanted to get your view on something else that I know is close to your heart, which is the role of music and dance for building community. What would you say about that?
[00:18:45] Gui: I would say that, remember when we talked about like how to connect people and we were talking about, well, you could do like, you know, emotional sharing or using words, but you can also just use your body. And I think that’s dance is like one of these things.
So I think a lot of people love dancing. I think a lot of people love music and I think that music next to sports and religion is one of the most bonding elements that society has and culture has.
So, as a DJ myself, you know, I’ve loved music. I’ve been DJing since I’m 16 in different styles, but more than in the last couple of years, I found out about ecstatic dance and I know you’ve, just did your first ecstatic dance recently, right?
[00:19:29] Naima: Yeah. And for my birthday, I’m gonna DJ another one.
[00:19:31] Gui: There we go! There we go, so, you know, ecstatic dance, like the principles are usually you’re sober. There’s no drugs involved and it’s really about expressing whatever wants to come out from your body. Without any judgment. And usually you’re not allowed to talk to people either. So it’s nonverbal, you can interact with them but you can’t talk. And that creates this like super safe space to really express yourself and to tune in to your body, whatever the music has to tell you.
[00:19:57] Naima: Yeah, totally. And thanks for sharing those details about ecstatic dance, cuz I’ve personally seen the power of it to really cultivate authentic community in many of the cities I’ve lived. And also, as we like to say, it’s like a natural medicine, especially for any emotionally challenging situation you might be going through because through the movement, through the music and the safe way in which the space is held, it really allows you to tap into your body, to release blocked energies, to breathe better, to ground down, practice flowing or letting go or whatever else you’re needing in that.
And Gui, related to this, I’m also curious, do you see a correlation between coliving and living consciously?
[00:20:48] Gui: Yes. And I first need to define what does living consciously mean. And I’m talking here because I’ve been in a lot of circles where people praise themselves for living consciously. And sometimes you can even by saying that follow bit into an ego trap. So to me, I don’t think it’s about like, do you live consciously or not? It’s not a binary question to me. It’s more, are you trying to become more conscious of how you live and of your environment? And if the answer is yes to this, then I say, coliving is for you. Because. I don’t see how people can live with others and create stronger bonds, and do this in the long run if they don’t put an effort of trying to break their own perspective of adopting other people’s perspectives, and of exploring what they don’t know.
And, I’ll give you a concrete example. There was one person, that I lived with and on day one, that person said. I’m not here to learn. I’m just here to share my wisdom. And, to me that was a little orange flag because that indicated a mindset that this person was not open to grow. That was not open to understanding where other people were coming from because that person believed they had the ultimate truth of how life works. And that’s very dangerous. And that can be very triggering when you’re around somebody like that.
You know, now it goes back to the values of humility, et cetera. But yes, there’s a strong correlation. I think coliving is a school of life and hence, we need to attract people that are students of life and to be a student, you need to be desiring and willing to earn and look up.
[00:22:40] Naima: Yeah. A student of life! I love how you said that, cuz yeah. It’s not whether we’re living consciously or not, but rather. Whether we’re trying to become more conscious of how we live and yeah, that’s just such a important distinction. And I think it really creates the space for anyone to explore what living consciously means, no matter the starting point.
You know, we’ve also been seeing over the past few years, a real shift in how we’re living and how society is transforming. I’d love to get your perspective on that Gui on this paradigm shift and how coliving fits into ths.
[00:23:18] Gui: I’m seeing a bunch of different shifts, but it also depends where you live. So there are certain shifts that a bit scare me, such as fundamentalism, strong religious beliefs, even political beliefs. We’ve been seeing that in the U.S. In the last couple of years that actually divide society. On the other side, we’re also seeing, people that go the other way and that try to get rid of these labels; that try to give home a new notion, whereby home is not where you born or where you live, but how you feel about the place. Whereby, community is not where you grew up or like your original friends, but a group of people that you can align with and grow with.
And my hope for the future truly is that we go towards a culture in which people try to gain more perspectives of one another, in which we try to come with more empathy, understanding, instead of taking things personally and isolating ourselves in our little label bubbles. And for that, I think coliving is literally a great tool to help you get that mindset and to help you live this way, because you’re gonna be confronted with people that you don’t align with, with cultures that you don’t align with, and with behaviors that trigger you. And if you’re able to overcome these triggers, then you are a true learner of life. And, and then you are even especially you able to overcome yourself, which is the most beautiful thing that any relationship can ever give you.
[00:24:59] Naima: Yeah. Wow. That’s, that’s so powerful. And I completely agree with you that coliving can really be a platform to help us learn how to better understand other people’s perspectives and overcome our triggers and heal ourselves on so many levels.
So thanks for sharing on that. And going back to the learnings from your book, Gui what would you say are some of the most common mistakes that coliving operators make?
[00:25:29] Gui: So let’s differentiate between the tangible and the intangible. To me, tangible are things such as real estate architecture, design, and also business financial viability. So these are things that can be measured. The intangible are more subtle nuances and that’s for example, community dynamics.
So in the tangible mistakes, I think most coliving operators struggle with their business model. And we’ve seen that a lot of coliving operators have changed from being asset light to asset heavy or just going super asset light. A lot of coliving operators are learning now also like to develop site revenue, streams, membership models, integrating coworking, F&B into their concepts.
And then the second thing on that side is also design and architecture. Especially for larger building and even for smaller building, it’s really hard to imagine if you never developed such a product, how to create a coliving residence that actually enables communal living, for example, how many fridges do you offer to residents?
I just came out of a presentation where somebody said the ratio of fridge to residents is 10 to one. And to me that doesn’t work. You cannot have 10 people sharing one fridge. That’s a complete disaster. So that’s a concrete example. So these are I think the most common mistakes.
And then the last one is also growth path. We’ve been seeing a lot of coliving operators who tried to grow very fast. And then they all went bankrupt or they merge with someone else and that’s fine too. You know, they did the mistakes, but the ones that are resilient are the ones that actually start small, implement their processes, test them, and once they have it with like 2, 3, 4 houses, then they start scaling up and not the other way around.
So these are the most common mistakes I see on the tangible part.
On the intangible,it’s mostly lack of knowledge. Lack of knowledge of how to get the right residents, which questions to ask in the vetting. But also then how to connect residents afterwards and how to involve them in the brand. And we’ve been writing about this already, like the difference between the top-down and bottom-up model. Top-down is basically that the experience is being imposed by the operator. Like, Hey, we’re doing this event on Thursday and this event on Saturday.
Bottom-up means that you let residents actually choose what experience they want. And then ultimately it’s harder to do because you need to create processes to involve them. But then it works better in the long run because residents take ownership of their own culture. They take ownership of their own experience, and then they also stay longer because they feel having ownership and hence they feel being at home.
So yeah, these are the main mistakes that I’m seeing. And so I think it’s really important to educate.
[00:28:35] Naima: Yeah. And from the beginning, right? Not waiting until later when things are already more in place, but actually getting that education and training at the beginning stages so that you can avoid these mistakes.
And Gui, you’ve already mentioned many other tips and ideas on how to create life enhancing coliving experiences for residents. But if you had to summarize, what are the top tips you would give to shared living operators?
[00:29:04] Gui: Yes. Number one, make sure the logistics work. And logistics mean make sure that people have enough space in the fridge. That you have compartments, that people have enough storage in their living room. That people have also, enough, privacy, whether it’s like visual or auditory, in the building or in their rooms. And just make sure the main components of your service are working super fluently. Because you can do crazy experiences on top, but if there’s a security issue, or if there’s a heating issue, or even if the kitchen is dirty every time you want to use it, it’s not going to work and people will leave. So that’s one number one.
And the second one would be invest into community building process. Understand what residents want and need. Give them tools to capture their feedback, to capture their desires and to give them ways to getting involved in a coliving space and a coliving experience.
[00:30:11] Naima: Yep. Love that. And you know, your book talks also about how to do coliving at scale. So what would be your main tips for how to create coliving experiences at scale?
[00:30:25] Gui: Yeah, I don’t know if you know that phrase, but especially in the San Francisco startup world, there was one big article that influenced lots of startups, which is, “Do things that don’t scale.” What does it mean? It means like start doing things without even having the idea of how to scale it. Start small and test out different ways, test out different models, test out different systems.
And once you found something that works, then you can understand, like, why does it work? What are the systems behind it that make it work? And then from there you can scale up. So I would say that that would be number one.
And number two, educate yourself. There’s a lot of resources at Co-Liv, in the Art of Coliving, on the website of Conscious Coliving, in the Community Facilitation Handbook. There’s a lot of experts like us that can help people creating these systems. So you as a coliving operator are not alone.
[00:31:27] Naima: That’s right. We are all in this together! We’re co-creating this new living paradigm!
So Gui, where can people buy your book?
[00:31:50] Naima: Well, thank you so much for everything you’ve done, Gui. And I really look forward to continue co-creating!
[00:31:57] Gui: Hell yes. Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. And, thank you for allowing me to share and for creating the time to create this content. Thank you, Naima.
[00:32:12] Penny: Wow! There’s so many takeaways from that conversation.
[00:32:16] Naima: Yeah, there really are. Penny, what are some of your initial reflections on it?
[00:32:22] Penny: Well, I loved hearing from Gui. I really appreciated hearing the potential for different coliving typologies. So coliving is not just this one thing aimed at millennials. It’s also something that could be aimed at seniors, families. There can be different ownership models. And I think it’s really great to hold these questions.
And I’m actually reminded of the Co-Liv Summit where different innovative actors were present. We heard about coliving on a boat, we heard about coliving for work teams. So I really appreciate Co-Liv for being a gathering place for innovation.
And the other part of the conversation that I really loved, was this discussion about how coliving can enable positive, personal change through seeing and being open to the perspectives of others.
And it actually really reminded me of a quote from a book, which I recommend. It’s called Creating a Life Together. It’s by Diana Leaf Christian. And she actually says something very similar about community being a catalyst for positive personal change.
She says: “the close and frequent interactions with other community members about how we all live and work together tends to evoke some of our worst and most destructive behaviors and potentially. It can heal them. I call this the rock polisher effect. Rocks in a rock tumbler, first abrade and then polish each other. In forming community groups and communities, our rough edges are often brought up and then worn smoother by frequent contact with everyone else’s. Through good community process, we can make the rock polisher effect more conscious rather than suffer helplessly. We can use community as a powerful opportunity for personal growth. “
[00:34:12] Naima: Wow. I love that quote. Thank you, Penny, for sharing that.
[00:34:16] Penny: Well, it’s, it’s great to actually have the opportunity to talk about it. Because yeah, it’s an analogy that I particularly love and really listening to Gui’s conversation, I hear such a parallel between what Diana leaf Christian is saying and what Gui is saying.
And actually something I sometimes hear from operators is that residents will come to them, expecting them to solve their interpersonal problems with other residents, which of course in the first place is a bit inconvenient for those operators because we know they’re super busy people. But also it’s more than that. It’s a really missed opportunity because training residents to work through their interpersonal problems, offers a huge chance for positive change.
And so it’s well worth investing in a good mediation strategy and even communication training for residents.
[00:35:07] Naima: Yeah, thanks Penny. Great reflections there. And since you shared a quote, I’d love to share one from Gabor Mate who is a best selling author and expert on trauma, mind, body health, and addiction. And if you haven’t seen his documentary, The Wisdom of Trauma, I highly recommend it and we’ll put a link to it in the show notes.
He says, “We were hurt in early relationship. Which means we are going to heal in relationship. Relationships can be the grounds for healing when approached properly.”
So that quote really resonated for me when I first read it. And in my view, intentional coliving spaces can offer the kind of nurturing grounds for this type of healing of relationships to emerge, but this doesn’t happen automatically. Right? Which is why coliving at least in the way we envision coliving is really such an art form.
How do we facilitate communities so that they can become safe places where healing can occur? I’ll give a few ways from my perspective on this. So first of all, this intention needs to be embedded into the values of the coliving space from the beginning, from the get go. Secondly, it needs to be a part of the communication and brand messaging. Third, it needs to be clear in the curation process so that there’s alignment when new residents move in. And finally there needs to be actual spaces, activities, and practices that enable healing of relationships.
To give a few examples of these: so I’ve been facilitating sharing circles for some time now, and we know of coliving spaces that also host these. For me, they’re one of the most powerful tools for transformation and healing among people. They’re also one of the most ancient forms of human social interaction.
It’s really a place where you come together and you’re able to authentically express what is alive in you and build trusted connection with others based on vulnerability.
So that’s one way, another way is through nonviolent communication, which is a practice in which we develop emotional intelligence and communication skills to be able to relate more effectively and communicate more compassionately. And there are several coliving spaces who are training their staff and residents in this.
And finally activities such as ecstatic dance, as Gui mentioned, where people can come together in a nonjudgmental way and fully authentically express themselves, is another great form for creating healing environments for people. So this for me is part of the true potential of coliving.
And you can read more about some of these practices in the Community Facilitation Handbook.
[00:38:18] Penny: Yeah, great insights Naima. Actually to reinforce this, I’d like to share an amazing initiative, which is called the Inner Development Goals. These are aligned with the concept of the Sustainable Development Goals and these inner development goals are all about developing a growth mindset that’s open to change.
The idea is: how can we change, how can we achieve these sustainable development goals, if we are not in the right place to shift our inner perspective? And as Gui said, that’s something that coliving can really help us with. It can help those who want to be, as he said, students of life by creating these opportunities for opening up to different perspectives and to having self-reflection as a result of that.
And actually one thing I saw during my doctoral research, which was focused on shared living and environmental sustainability is that when people live together, just as Gui said, they become exposed to new ideas and different ways of doing. And this is especially interesting in regards to domestic life, which by the way, environmentally speaking accounts for a significant proportion of our emissions.
And the funny thing about domestic life is it’s often conducted in private or with one other person, so you never really get to see how your friends wash their clothes, how they clean the dishes, what their habits are about using energy. And when you share, when you live together, these usually private habits are brought into the light. And when you’re sharing in these habits, you have to negotiate them. And suddenly when you have to negotiate them, you have to be mindful of what you do. You have to notice all these things that often are so habit.
So quite often I found that people living with those who were particularly eco-conscious were adopting sustainable practices, whereas they, they probably wouldn’t have otherwise. And this has positive emissions lowering outcomes, and we’ll be expanding more into sustainability related topics in episodes three and four. So I’m looking forward to that.
[00:40:26] Naima: Yeah, thanks Penny. And, well just moving on from this, we’ve talked a lot about how amazing coliving is and the real transformational power of coliving. Something really valuable that you bring as a leading researcher in the field of coliving is a balanced view. Gui mentioned several challenges of coliving and there’s also some criticism about the concept of coliving. Could you expand a little bit on these?
[00:40:57] Penny: Yes for sure. So I found it really valuable to hear Gui’s insights on common mistakes in coliving. He mentioned the tangibles, so things like architectural and interior design. And then the intangibles as well so creating community experience, and this is something that’s touched upon more in The Community Facilitation Handbook.
In terms of some criticisms of coliving, a couple are that coliving is not as affordable as it could be. And I think affordable coliving would focus less on these luxury amenities and more on the community facilitation and experience. And we do know that this type of coliving exists and we would really love to see more of it.
Another criticism is that coliving can be associated with community washing. So people are thrown into a building, there’s some token events and it’s called community. And we think that there’s not enough thought or strategy given to facilitating social connections. These criticisms, and some of the controversies around coliving is actually something that we touch upon in the Coliving Guide. And you’ll be able to find a link to this in the show notes.
[00:42:11] Naima: Yeah. And actually also in the Coliving Guide, I highly suggest checking out section three, where we explore more the potential of coliving for residents, business neighbourhoods, and the world, and also how to measure and optimize the impact of coliving.
Okay. So that’s it for this first episode in which we focused on the transformational power of coliving.
Thank you, Penny so much for joining as my co-host today and thank you all out there for listening.
In the next episode, we will be exploring the importance of adult friendships and how coliving can foster them with Kat Vellos, Connection Coach and author of We Should Get Together- The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships.
Coliving Conversations Season 1: A co-production between Conscious Coliving and GoHumanGo. Till the next episode!
What comes next in your coliving journey?
Join a Coliving Community
If you made it all the way to the bottom of these show notes, then coliving might be the next move for you. As has been noted, the benefits of coliving are many. These communities can be not only a lovely place to live, but also a great place to work.
If you are curious, then go ahead and find your coliving community.
Create & Optimise Coliving Communities
Whether you are a team member at a big real estate company, or part of a small start-up, innovating can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are many passionate organisations and individuals here to support you, including us at Conscious Coliving and our partners. To begin with, make sure to explore existing coliving research and resources.