Low Impact, Inspiring and Cost Effective

"Age, size, and resulting affordability currently exclude working families and individuals from the housing market. We want to change that."

One of the greatest struggles for many in our communities is to find affordable, inspiring shelter. Much of the housing in our towns and rural communities is old and inefficient and new construction is often geared toward larger homes. Strides have been made in energy efficiency, but the sheer size of many homes and the energy that is consumed in their construction, will continue to exclude working families and individuals from the housing market. 

Recent developments in green building technology utilizing local timber, clay, stone, and agricultural waste products like straw have shown that beautiful, highly livable and ultra-efficient housing can be affordable and have a much lower impact on the environment both in their construction and operation. These techniques are not only affordable but are accessible to the ambitious owner builder with some training and experience. Ongoing training in green building skills can both help to create a new generation of low-impact shelter, and a new generation of builder/teachers. Intentional Communities and Co-Housing Projects have also demonstrated efficiencies in creating affordable shelter by sharing costs of essential systems, with added benefits of localized food and energy production and other benefits of close community.


Our Shelter Working Group partnered with Maine Passive House to offer She Built This, a carpentry workshop for women, in the fall of 2020. To be more inclusive, the workshop series has been renamed We Built This - 2022 workshops are happening now!


Cooperative Housing Project

Western Foothills community members, in concert with CEBE's Shelter Working Group, have begun meeting to envision and create a plan for affordable, cooperative, sustainable housing in Norway, Maine. 

Like many other places in Maine and beyond, affordable, inspired housing is in very short supply in the western foothills. In recent years many people, young and old, have been attracted to the Norway/South Paris area for its thriving Main Street, arts and culture, natural beauty and recreational opportunities, but often end up leaving the area for lack of a safe, affordable place to live.

Discussions so far have included everything from Main Street live/work spaces and downtown multi-family dwellings, to tiny houses and ecovillages on the outskirts of town. We will be building an inter-generational core group to define our cooperative structure and manage the project, along with a larger support group to call on for guidance as this project develops.

We welcome anyone who is interested in living cooperatively, or in simply supporting cooperative living. If you have time, interest, resources, or expertise in budgeting, real estate development, grant writing, Indigenous land rights, farming and gardening, green energy or building and design, please consider joining our team. To build and sustain a diverse, inclusive and vibrant community and a thriving local economy will demand innovative housing solutions. With a progressive housing bill just passed and funded in the state legislature and a group of committed locals on-board, now is the time to act on this critical issue for our community.

With the rise of food insecurity and demand on the emergency food system in the Western Foothills during the global pandemic, the Shelter Working Group partnered with the Food Working Group to build a Little Free Pantry.

Inspired by the Little Free Library movement, this Little Free Pantry is located on the information kiosk in Longley Square in Norway. The pantry is stocked with non-perishable goods and dry goods during freezing months, open to anyone at any time. Donations are always welcome!

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