A Life in Common

In January 2020 a message appeared on the Facebook group I had set up for ex-members of People In Common from Laura Howell.

I would love to hear ANY and all memories anyone has of my Parents? Photos or any other literature about people in common would be amazing, I hate to be a bother, but I would love to know more about it all. Many thanks in advance to anyone who has anything they can share with me.

Laura Howell

This was the trigger for me to visit the rather chaotic jumble of papers that I think of as my communal archive. I initially started to post photos and scans of the odd document I came across while rummaging through the filing cabinet. As Covid lockdown kicked in I started to conceive of using the enforced downtime to see if I could complete some sort of record of the twenty or so years I spent at People In Common; an alternative living/working co-operative in Lancashire . The result was a year long series of blogs which is now published as A Life in Common – (First blog post here – Get a Big House and Share it)

PIC Class of ’78 – in freak snow storm on the top of Gordale Scar
LtoR: David, Derek,Kate, Chris, Laura, Pete – In Front: Leigh, Simon.

The posts appear in the book pretty much in the same order that I wrote them – they are roughly chronological starting as a school leaver in 1975 and ending in 1998 when I left the group. But as I learnt in the course of writing, memory doesn’t work in a conveniently linear way so at times they jump around date wise. The book charts a sort of counter-cultural poacher turned gamekeeper’s tale – from being a homeless squatter to becoming in effect a kind of alternative property developer. As it turned out I would say it is more a scrapbook of memories than a ‘memoir’.

…finished this inspiring book about a bunch of people in Burnley who set about creating an alternative everyday lifestyle in the 1970s, a lovely, lively history by Chris Coates of commune living in the heart of industrial Lancashire. I grew up there with little clue that all this beauty was happening practically next door.

Boff whalley (Commoners choir / chumbawamba)

A Life in Common is published by Diggers & Dreamers.
200 pages Colour & B&W pictures.

It is available price £12 +p&p from the Diggers & Dreamers Website: https://www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/shop-base/

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