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Charter

Toad Lane’s Intentional Community Charter

 

  1. What is your house’s theme?

Decolonial vegan social-justice commune

 

(To note, we do not operate with a shared income system like some communes do.  Shared income systems are totally praise worthy for their equitable implications, but as somewhat transient students this is not something we are committed to.)

  1. Briefly describe this theme:
    Veganism is a form of nonviolent direct action which takes seriously the rights and interests of animals, in order to end the suffering inherent in their exploitation. We oppose speciesism, which is the assignment of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species.  Ending animal exploitation is a social-justice struggle because we recognize that non-human animals are part of our society.  Veganism also furthers social justice causes by contributing to individual and collective health, food sovereignty, and environmental justice.  We do not endorse forms of veganism based on celebrity trends, fad diets, hegemonic body image standards, or personal moral superiority. Veganism doesn’t mean you should fit a stereotype.

 

Our understanding of veganism intersects with anti-oppression and anti-colonial struggles. We recognize that we come from different positions of privilege which influence how we participate in struggles and what that participation looks like. For example, making certain food choices, doing organizing work, and having certain analyses around social and political issues.

 

Furthermore, our commitment to an intersectional interpretation of veganism and social justice compels us to support the activism in which members of the house are engaged.

 

This currently includes food justice, body image politics, complicating veganism, strike and union support, gender issues (the deconstruction of gender), queering gender and sexuality, feminism, disability and accessibility, deconstructing mental health, anti-racism work, opposition to all forms of tyranny, challenging all form of disconnect/othering, more boundary pushing co-operatives, ethical consumption (including gleaning, foraging, and dumpster diving), Palestinian and Syrian Revolution solidarity work.  The house has had ongoing conversations over the past year about several topics: creating a more intersectional and inclusive vegan movement including its decolonialization; alternatives to capitalist consumption; sharing food;

 

What does it mean to live in our house? Members are expected to abstain from the consumption of animal products, i.e. animal flesh, dairy and eggs, within the house. We are often flexible when guests unknowingly bring non-vegan food into the house.  We don’t expect new members to throw out their existing leather and wool items, and we are okay with people buying used animal clothing with discretion.

In cases when non-vegan alternatives are not easily accessible, or in the case of accidental non-vegan purchases, we are flexible on the personal use of non-food animal products and products tested on animals. Examples of this may include toiletries, medicine, special medical footwear, and bicycle tires (seriously, most bike tires are not vegan!). Some more things we wanted to mention are:

  • We host open vegan potlucks every other Thursday attended by 10-30 people.
  • Cleanliness and weekly house chores are taken seriously but in good spirit and we strive to continually improve our home with art, plants, and renovation projects.
  • We semi-regularly host couchsurfers and use our house as a meeting place for community groups.
  • House meetings are held twice a month, and often involve communally prepared food.
  • Whilst we have an anonymous application process for new housemates we strive to uphold an equity principle when making selections. As such, our house application includes the following statement:

We value equity and inclusivity and welcome the contributions that individuals from marginalized communities bring to our house. We prioritize the membership of self-identified women, indigenous, racialized, low-income, disabled, immigrant, queer, and trans people and people from any other marginalized group or community. If you wish to and are comfortable, please let us know how you self-identify. We acknowledge that these are not homogeneous nor stereotypical identities or communities.  We do not intend to police people’s identities, but rather aim to create an environment of recognition, respect, and diversity. Unfortunately, Toad Lane is not wheelchair accessible


.

 

  1. What is the history and evolution behind this theme?

Toad Lane has been a student cooperative since the early 1970s, and a part of Campus Co-operative Residence Inc (CCRI) since 1993. Activism has been a long-standing tradition, evident in the newspaper articles featuring its residents, hundreds of books about social issues in the library, and dozens of pieces of artwork in every corner of the house.  We have evolved into a vibrant vegan community (transitioning from vegetarian in 2008), hosting bi-weekly potlucks, fundraisers, and frequent informal discussions about social justice.

 

3B) What has been accomplished in the last year?

We have continued to have many wonderful, new housemates.

 

We have organized and hosted several events at the house:

  • a Campus Co-op Feminist group
  • a giant clothing swap (paired with our potluck)
  • Birthday parties
  • (future) zine making party
  • DIY ethical Halloween treats to hand out
  • Bread making workshop

 

  • A house band has been started

 

  • several house members participated in a meet up of GTA collective houses

 

Several members of Toad Lane were elected to the CCRI Board of Directors, and a house member is on the sustainability committee.  A large portion of the CCRI delegates to the NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation) Conference

in Ann Arbor, Michigan came from Toad Lane.

 

We have collectively taken on the responsibilities of the Campus Co-op House Manager role, meaning we also are able to spend the related income collectively as a house.  We do house shops at Karma Co-op monthly.  The Canadian Centre for Excelllence in Legumology remains a steadfast part of our cooking habits.

 

We have taken on different house improvement projects including:

  • Furniture rearrangement
  • painted a blackboard for announcements, messages, affirmations, etc.
  • basement re-habilitation
  • re-organized drawers and cupboards
  • mood/accessible lighting around house
  • bigger gardening endeavors than previous years
  • curb scored (and re-furbished) cast iron pans
  • purchased high end blender and food processor

 

We provided space for various meetings for different groups that house members are involved in such as: Regenesis, CCRI board and committee meetings, class projects, Tickly Pickly Vulva Zine project, Complicating Veganism Zine Project, the Seasonal Body project, an interview for an online conference (the Brave Body Love Conference)

 

As well, some short films by No One Is Illegal were shot at Toad Lane; same with an interview with Paul Evitts (Rochdale College’s first student) that will be in an upcoming documentary.
We continue to host couchsurfers — either friends and neighbours in need, or couchsurfers from all over the world — who are interested in co-operative living, veganism, and/or social justice.  Such individuals have visited from: Australia, Brazil, Calgary, Colorado, England, France, Germany, Guelph, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, South Korea, Vietnam.

 

  1. What does your house hope to accomplish within the household over the coming year?

Continue in the spirit of everything in 3b and…

  • start a house recipe collection
  • more documentary screenings
  • more art nights
  • house heritage project
  • more gardening in the front yard (indigenizing plants)
  • host more fundraisers and theme parties
  • more communal meals
  • paint room 302 and third floor

 

  1. What does your house hope to accomplish beyond the household over the coming year?

Decolonial vegan social-justice commune is a link to many other social and ecological justice issues. We hope to extend our philosophy of non-harming through cooperation within the house, and through outreach beyond our house to other co-op members, and the community at large.

– Collaborate more with other nearby collective houses

– Reach out to the community and open up our doors as a place for public forum on various topics.

– Continue to host events that invite the larger community into our house for films, speakers, food, etc…

– Organize street garage sale day/food/block party

– Continue participating in the curb economy – “Curb the Economy Day”

– Confront: ableism, sizeism, the industrial food systems, corporate labour systems, end immigration detention, prison fences, capitalism, patriarchy, poverty, Israeli apartheid, Assad’s criminal regime, the Pan Am Games, the exploitation of animals.  Also, help build the revolution and/or general strike, and create a just food system; all while planting a seed of the future in the shell of the old.  That is to say, prefiguring a more just and compassionate future — in terms of values, structures/modes of organization, and social relationships — in the present.

 

  1. In what ways does your house plan to reach out to other houses in the coop community?

Continue to encourage other CCRI members to attend Potlucks and other events

Continue to encourage our members to join the board

Encourage other members to form new theme houses

Strive to make the Co-op a good place for workers

 

  1. What key values are central to your theme?
  2. Intersectional Veganism
  3. Anti-Oppressive and Liberatory Social Justice
  4. Intentional Community Building

 

  1. In what ways do these key values support one or more of the Rochdale 7 principles of cooperation?

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

We regret the non truly open membership to all of CCRI due to the lack of wheelchair accessibility in all of our spaces. We also regret the financial inaccessibility of CCRI, and our inability to provide housing to lower income students. This is a manifestation of class privilege in society and the structural exclusion of lower income folks from institutions of higher education. That being said, we are endeavouring to create an atmosphere in our house where no one feels excluded due to historical and ongoing oppressions.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control. Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.

Our house operates in a democratic manner but usually on a consensus method rather than voting. We emphasize the aspects of democracy ignored by the formal “one member, one vote” conception of democratic organization, that often excludes the genuine interests of significant groups. We encourage our members to get involved in larger co-op structures and to cultivate democracy there in ways beyond voting. We’ve developed a process for house members to express their dissent in an anonymous and supported way.

 

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

An example of common ownership in Toad Lane is the shared food staples in the Centre.

 

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence. Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

We feel that this charter is a good example of how autonomy in CCRI can work, and is a positive example of more cooperative living.

 

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information. Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

Living in or visiting Toad Lane is an educational experience in how to live, eat, and struggle cooperatively.

 

6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives. Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

Some of our members have lived in other co-ops and/or are members of non-housing co-ops, including the nearby Karma Co-op grocery store. We actively raise awareness in our communities of other co-operatives, collectives, DIY initiatives, and broadly more progressive organizations in hopes of furthering a more cooperative, solidarity economy.

 

7th Principle: Concern for Community. Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Toad Lane is a continuously developing intentional community and makes group decisions at house meetings twice per month.  This house endeavours to increase ties with the broader community through communal meals and other events.  Our concern for community is also expressed through our activist endeavours.

 

We have had ongoing discussions about how we take into consideration capacity and ability in how we operate as a collective community.

 

  1. If your home has previously been a theme house, what helpful advice can your house offer to coop houses which are similarly planning to become future theme houses?

We recommend an intentional community based on principles or values that translate to tangible activities which are better worked upon cooperatively than individually.

 

  1. Synopsis

Toad Lane has been a student cooperative since the early 1970s, and a part of Campus Co-op (CCRI) since 1993. Activism has been a long-standing tradition, evident in the newspaper articles featuring its residents, hundreds of books about social issues in the library, and dozens of pieces of artwork in every corner of the house.  We have evolved into a vibrant vegan community, hosting bi-weekly potlucks, fundraisers, and frequent informal discussions about social justice.

 

Veganism is a form of nonviolent direct action which takes seriously the rights and interests of animals, in order to end the suffering inherent in their exploitation. We oppose speciesism, which is the assignment of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species.  Ending animal exploitation is a social-justice struggle because we recognize that non-human animals are part of our society.  Veganism also furthers social justice causes by contributing to individual and collective health, food sovereignty, and environmental justice.  We do not endorse forms of veganism based on celebrity trends, fad diets, hegemonic body image standards, or personal moral superiority. Veganism doesn’t mean you should fit a stereotype.

 

Our understanding of veganism intersects with anti-oppression and anti-colonial struggles.

Feel free to browse videos of the Toad Lane 20th Year Anniversary Gathering from 2014:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsTXgqso6dw&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVkEurcdbIQ&feature=youtu.be

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Beeta permalink
    October 20, 2011 2:49 am

    AMAAAZZZINGGG@!!!!@@@!!!

  2. Julia Mansfield permalink
    January 9, 2012 9:11 pm

    I would like to live there

  3. June 3, 2013 12:56 am

    This place is amazing. I really hope I can move in here for the summer!

Trackbacks

  1. What is a “Theme House”? « Theme House Awareness Project

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