Background and History
Pinakarri Community is a unique, award-winning intentional community and urban co-housing co-operative located in Hamilton Hill, (near Fremantle) in Perth, Western Australia, committed to a more social, environmental and economically sustainable way of living.
Pinakarri is a word borrowed from the Nyangamarta Aboriginal people of the north west of W.A. It best translates as “Deep Listening”- literally "ears standing up", meaning listening with both heart and mind.
Pinakarri was formed in 1991 by a group of diverse people with a common dream. We were mainly parents (mostly women) looking for a more socially sustainable way to raise our children. After more than 8 years of coming together as a community, involving both enjoyable social times and a lot of hard work, suitable land was finally found and purchased. The building was completed in 1999 and the founding tenants took up residence soon after. Pinakarri celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009. It is the first co-housing co-op in W.A. to have a mix of public and private housing.
While community such as that shared at Pinakarri is rare and can be deeply fulfilling, it is no utopia- more a bunch of human beings, with a vision and purpose that is a little different to the "Australian norm" such as we have known it, sharing some of what life presents to us. It might be described as a contemporary version of tradtional village life (some have described this as "neo-tribal") with greater respect for diversity, individual difference and empowerment. Perhaps it will lead the way as a model of how Australians think about housing and community building options, into the future?
Pinakarri - the People
Many different people live in, contribute to and benefit from Pinakarri. We are, amongst other things, parents, teachers, bus drivers, students, musicians, artists, social workers, scientists, sustainability consultants, facilitators, filmmakers, carers, computer wizzes, kids and those engaged in many other meaningful social and work activities. A typical week might see a steady flow of visitors as well as residents: tradespeople, friends, relatives, supporters, WWOOFFers and other guests from all over the world, TAFE students, tour groups, kids coming over to play, friends coming for dinner and adult children returning for a visit to a place they very much still think of as 'home'.
"It Takes a Village to Raise a Child...and it Takes a Village to Support a Parent!"
The children in particular – now mostly in their teens and beyond, as well as a recent wave of pre-schoolers, have experienced incalculable benefits from this way of living- an extended family of caring, watchful adults and playmates. Pinakarri's children and young people have enjoyed many social activities, rites of passage, car-pooling and walking to school together, shared dinners, music and many other enjoyable community events, both planned and spontaneous. There are also great benefits to the adults from co-parenting in this way.
Pinakarri - the Place
Pinakarri, located on what were formerly three large, adjacent suburban house blocks in Hamilton Hill, now consists of twelve households. In addition, we have members and friends who either rent or own houses in the streets immediately adjacent to the Pinakarri site.- around 40 people in total. The 'villa' style houses are of passive solar design, in varying sizes, rendered in vibrantly beautiful, earthy colours. One of the houses has been specifically designed to meet the needs of a severely physically and mentally disabled young woman, who would otherwise have faced institutionalization, and her carers. Each house is fully self-contained and has a small private garden with low profile perimeter fences, which allow a mixture of separateness and engagement with the surrounding community.
The shared common space consists of tree-shaded lawns fed by a greywater system on which people relax and children play; an organic vegie garden with some fruit trees on the verge, which supplements community dinners; a community laundry with washing machines (the source of the greywater); the Common House and the fire circle. Rainwater tanks fill up in winter and are used to flush the toilets.
The central Common house and firepit represent both the actual and the metaphoric "heart" of Pinakarri. Here, people converge year-round to eat, talk, make music, party, learn things...or just relax. A blackboard and pinup board serve as useful communication tools for Pinakarri and wider community events. The Common House also contains a guest room and bathroom to accomodate WWOOFFers and other visitors, an upstairs meeting room, and an office.
Membership is open to anyone who is attracted to what Pinakarri represents and offers. It is usually an outcome for those who have had a regular, on-going involvement in the many facets of community life- community dinners, meetings and the many management tasks involved in running the community- and who display an understanding of what is about in both philosophical and practical terms. Pinakarri generally has a fixed population with full occupancy rate but, from time to time, a house becomes available.Tenancy eligibility is based on involvement and completion of the membership process (the community who will meet to talk about this) housing availability and suitability (size), and income. Occasionally, rooms and rentals become available in Pinakarri’s shared ‘equity’ (owner-occupied) houses and nearby houses owned by members. A good starting point for exploring membership, or simply to be a 'Friend of Pinakarri' is to come to an Open House Dinner on the first Friday of the month, a pot luck dinner to which anyone in the wider community is warmly invited (see to Pinakarri News page via link above for details).
Decision-Making & Deep Listening
Pinakarri members tend to be people who accept the challenges of community life, along with its riches. Pinakarri operates on a consensus model for making major decisions at its monthly at business meetings, where many practical short and long term management issues are addressed and decisons made.
In the interests of “learning to love more deeply”, the community also holds a monthly “Pinakarri”, otherwise known as a "Heart Circle," where participants have the opportunity for uninterrupted sharing "from the heart" on topical and personal issues. Instead of running away from them, we seek to accept inevitable human differences and work towards the resolution of problems using various processes such as NVC (Non-Violent Communication) principles.
Welcome to the Pinakarri Community Website!
Group Photo taken during Pinakarri 10th Anniversary celebrations, 2009
"Through Pinakarri (Deep Listening) We Learn to Love"