Sao Paulo, Brazil
Cape Town, South Africa
We are made up of six little houses painted bright yellow! We are fifteen minutes walk from the city centre in a vibrant multicultural area and have a nice big garden.
From June 1997 until July 1998 there was a peace camp outside the Alvis tank factory on the Walsgrave Triangle in Coventry, and when that came to an end three people from the camp, Penny, John and Becqke, decided to set up a more permanent base for peace and non-violence in the city. They found six little houses in a row on the Stoney Stanton Road which had been empty for three and a half years and managed to buy them for £50,000 via a mortgage with Triodos bank and loanstock from lots of friends. Coventry Peace House opened it's doors in January 1999. The way a fully mutual housing co-op works is that the members are people who live there, they make decisions about the house and they pay rent which pays the mortgage. There is no private ownership but neither is there an outside body controlling it. While you live there you are like a steward of the property and when you leave, you just leave.
For the first few years there was alot of work to be done repairing and renovating the house: scrap and rubbish had to be moved, scaffolding put in, plastering to be done, tiling, building walls, knocking down walls, painting, plumbing, wiring...
The renovation has been achieved through lots of help from volunteers - manually, inspirationally and financially, and through a project we ran for 4 years with young people. They were mainly young people who were disenchanted with school and either excluded or irregular attenders who came to us to learn some useful construction skills and also increase their confidence and self esteem. Many thanks to them all.
Right from the beginning the members of the house wanted it to used as a community resource: they organised community learning days, building skills projects, workshops on peace, conflict, non-violence, art and resistance.
In January 2003 Coventry Peace House Education Trust was established, a registered charity running peace, environmental and inclusion projects. Coventry Cycling Centre opened in June 2004 and the Community Space in October 2005. We have a range of permenant and temporary projects going on depending on the energy, ideas and enthusiasm: community groups, puppeteering projects, migrant support, exhibitions, singing days, football, demonstrations, workshops, films and discussions.
How to describe the house now... community, visitors, friends, ideas, discussions, anti-capitalism, anti-militarism, campaigning, creative solutions, writing, gay rights, demonstrations, consensus, non-violence, warm fires, co-operation, empowerment, environmental work, cycling, bike fixing, challenging oppression, laughter, tears, eating together, gardening, vegetables, flowers, DIY, maintenance, art, music...