The Relationship Between Activism and Collective Living at the Colibri Urban Housing Collective, Inc.

Carrie Miller, School for International Training


The creators of the Colibri Urban Housing Collective believed that collective living was one way to more fully live their principles of sustainability, respect for the Earth, and for each other. They designed Colibri to be a housing collective for activists with an emphasis on responsible consumption.

This study investigates whether their collective living experience is a support for their activism, as intended. The research question is “What is the relationship between collective living and activism for members of the Colibri Urban Housing Collective?” This paper looks at changes in behavior, attitude, and commitment level as a result of collective living.

Literature was reviewed from a variety of subject matters: activism, political participation as well as co-ops, communes, and collectives.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with all nine residents of Colibri as well as one Colibri associate member. The design and implementation of this research is qualitative.

While there was great variety in responses, there was near consensus on several points:

1. In all but two instances, collective living positively affected participants’ responsible consumption.

2. Seven of the ten participants felt that collective living helped them live more in accordance with their principles.

3. No participant’s commitment level was negatively impacted by collective living.

While this study focuses on the personal experiences of ten individuals, it speaks more broadly to the importance of having a strong support base when challenging the status quo.