In representation of Edgeryders, I attended the first event of a series that Community Land Trust Bruxelles (CLTB) is hosting a launchpad to the new organizational vehicle that they intend to launch. This post documents the event itself, as well as its implications for The Reef as I see them.
CLTB now consists of an association (ASBL) and a foundation of public utility.
- The foundation buys and holds on to land, which is subtracted to market logic forever (in principle), since it can not be resold. Land acquisition if funded by grants.
- The association manages the land, in a broad sense. This includes launching new projects for new buildings, finding the buyers, contracting the architect and construction companies, and managing the buildings after construction.
- is social. What is being built is social housing, and only that. Failing this, CLTB could not obtain the grants they have been using.
- is acquisitive (acquisitif). A CLTB always buys land.
Recently, CLTB started thinking about how to use the Community Land Trust Model in other ways: for example, to propose non-social housing, or to launch spaces for purposes other than housing. To do this, they decided they need a third legal entity, a cooperative. They have then launched a participatory process to design one, inviting several entities (including Edgeryders) to participate. “Designing” a cooperative in this context means defining:
- Business model.
The idea is to go through a process that will define these four items, and lead to a legal launch of the cooperative in March 2020.
About 25-30 people showed up for the meeting, which took five hours. They divided the stakeholders in four groups, and asked them to state what they would need to adhere to the new cooperative. The groups were:
- Contribueurs (Edgeryders were assigned to this group).
There is still some confusion as to the different roles in the cooperative. First of all, who are the cooperators? Is this to be a cooperative of people who use spaces, for housing or other uses (cooperative of utilisateurs)? Or is it to be a cooperative of projects of alternative land use (cooperative of contribueurs)? Or both? Are cooperators going to be individuals, organizations, or both? If the answers to these questions are “both”, how will the cooperative ensure alignment of incentives across so diverse a membership?
The category of contribueurs was by far the messiest. In fact, Geert De Pauw, CLTB’s coordinator, told me he thought we were “utilisateurs and contribueurs at the same time”. This became clear in the breakout with the other contribueurs. This group included people like us, with very specific projects (examples: housing for both people with disabilities and able-bodied folks; housing for vulnerable women, etc.), but also Perspective Bruxelles (Yves Van De Casteele). Some people in the group focused on values (“for my organization it is very important that the cooperative is committed to gender diversity”), whereas I took the approach that values were to be encoded in cooperators rather than in the cooperative. The latter would simply be a tool to provide a shared service to the former, just like vineyard farmers join forces to build and run a cooperative facility to squeeze and ferment everybody’s grapes into wine. The choice of what kind of wine to produce, and how much, is still with the farmers, who do not need to agree in order to cooperate.
The structural problem we were facing is this. CLTB wants a cooperative to do all kinds of stuff that their current model prevents them to do. But this very openness makes it more difficult to identify a “core service” that all these very different projects would need.
I signed Edgeryders up to help work on the cooperative’s vision and UVP. @noemi, do you think I should send Geert these notes as a form of restitution and feedback?