In 2009 Caitlin and Tim visited a very special community house in Tallinn, Estonia that inspired them to create a community space in Newcastle. In 2011 they shared this vision with Miriam and Andy, who also had a vision for a ‘commons’ – a community-owned space. Together the four people began dreaming about what this space would look like and what would happen there. Then, like a wheel of cheese rolling down the hill, they began to collect more people. Other amazing Novocastrians (soon to be commoners) began to appear out of the woodwork to offer their ideas, dreams, skills and gifts.
In September of 2012, this community, now named ‘the Commons’, entered into an agreement of trust with Hamilton Wesley Uniting Church to use the top floor of Fellowship House on Beaumont Street. We painted, sewed, rescued abandoned furniture, built bookshelves and a cafe, and purchased equipment and stock. Somehow from nothing (ok, through a great deal of hard work) a people’s library, fair trade cafe and arts space appeared!
We launched in November 2012, took a break over Christmas, and then grew from there! In 2017, we moved to the downstairs floor of Fellowship House on Beaumont Street, and then had to take a break in November 2017 to re-evaluate the direction The Commons would take. In 2018, the decision was made to end our association with the Uniting Church, and The Commons is is the process of moving to a new home. We still have a growing community of commoners, volunteers, and groups who call the Commons home, and will continue to make people feel at home wherever we move to next!