You might (or might not!) notice we've gone a bit quiet.
The reason for this, as some of you are aware, is that we grabbed an opportunity to bid on a small farm in East Sussex. We had a 2 week deadline to gather and prove we had the funds to purchase a property worth in the region of £2m, which was no mean feat for 5 households on moderate incomes!
It was an intense and immensely helpful learning experience; we dived into the world of retrofitting and improving energy efficiency on old properties; talked money with the mortgage lenders who specialize in loans for community housing (and got an offer 12 hours before the bid deadline); spoke to planners; did some due diligence around the opportunities and challenges of this site; and opened up the MHOS (Mutual Home Ownership Society) conversation for a deepening into its possibilities
At a community level, we had the opportunity to think more collectively as we contemplated what was right for the whole, whilst at the same time negotiating the different needs and ideas of individual households. And we brought in partners and other friends and loved ones for discussions and input with all the dynamic shifts that come with re-constellating a group.
We met almost every day for about two weeks and are thankful to our commercial partner Peter at Rethink Homes/A Fairer Society that he was up for meeting daily too - without him we wouldn't have got our bid offer over the line and in the hands of the solicitors by the deadline.
Finding all this energy and time - when it can sometimes feel so difficult to make space in the week - showed us how galvanising it is to have not just a deadline, but a piece of land, with all that comes with that. It really concentrated hearts and minds, to have certainty around location, how much it will cost, timings of moving in, and the challenges and opportunities that a specific site brings. For one of our core team, Elisa, this meant stepping out at this moment. She will remain in contact with us and we are all sad to see her go with the contribution she brought, but glad she is keen to stay involved as an active supporter of Heartward.
So what now? Well, we are still waiting to hear whether our bid has been successful. We have been waiting for over a month, and things are on hold until we have an answer one way or the other.
What is clear to us is that we still want to be developing the wider Heartward community. You have remained in our thoughts throughout this time. Once we're out of this limbo land, we will be back in touch to continue a conversation we started some months ago. Peter is still on the hunt for land and there's likely to be news on that front soon too. Perhaps we could see a number of Heartwards springing up across Sussex and perhaps one of those will suit your household's circumstances.
If you'd like to hear more about what has been happening these past couple of months, please do drop us a line and one of us will be in touch. Otherwise, when we know whether our bid has been successful, we will be in touch about meeting up and reconnecting again.