Since this spring, The Bollard—a monthly newspaper based in Portland, Maine—has published a series of stories on local cooperative development. From a housecleaning cooperative where workers are treated with respect to a piece on the vision behind cooperatives, the series has highlighted CDI and featured interviews with our staff and partners.
In its September issue, The Bollard continues with A Land Without Lords, a story on housing cooperatives and resident-owned communities by Chris Busby. Here’s an excerpt from the story that features CDI and our work with the Wardtown Park resident-owned community, part of our New England Resident Owned Communities (NEROC) program:
In the summer of 2014 the burgeoning national movement to convert mobile-home parks to resident-ownership reached Wardtown. The Cooperative Development Institute — a nonprofit, based in Northampton, Mass., that promotes co-ops of many kinds and provides technical assistance for park conversions — sent advisers to Wardtown to discuss the idea. They asked Whitmore, who also served on the housing trust’s board, if he thought his neighbors would be interested in owning and running their park. “Nope,” he responded. “I don’t think it’ll fly, but you can try it.”
Members of about half the homes in the 60-unit park showed up to a meeting at the town library and, to Whitmore’s surprise, enough of them voted to explore the concept to warrant further investigation. Then an assessment of the property was done and residents realized, “Wow, there’s a lot wrong with this place,” Whitmore recalled.