RE: Getting It Built at Esalen
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 94 12:32 CDT
Martin Tracy wrote about the Esalen workshop, hot-tubs, and Grass 
Valley cohousing breaking up over a conflict:

Thanks for passing along the workshop info, I think it will be 
valuable.  Esalen is a beautiful place.

At Sharingwood we plan on acquiring a hot-tub this summer.  My current 
understanding is that we will be putting it in the woods which will 
allow for privacy for nudity and I suppose we will need to talk about 
how to deal with nudity if someone has a problem with it.  (My house 
has been referred to as a nudist colony in that we have a small pond 
and kids pool and most the little kids don't bother wearing clothes 
when they are playing. This has not been a problem yet, and all the 
parents seem fine with it.)

I know of several communities which have spas and hot tubs which have 
no problems with nudity.  However, many of these communities also have 
frankly discussed sexuality and worked out how to deal with that issue. 
Sexuality is a classic hidden issue in many communities and can really 
cause problems, especially in close shared quarters, if it is not 
openly acknowleged and dealt with.

As far as the Grass valley group breakup, one of the first things a 
group should do is to figure out a conflict resolution strategy.  It is 
sad and totally unecessary that a simple conflict should escalate to 
the point where it derails a community.  Conflicts are a healthy and 
normal part of group process.  The trick is to deal with them before 
they get to the fight or flight stage.  I have also observed that 
sometimes the issue under conflict is only a flag for another conflict 
or conflicts which have been ignored or unseen.  It is really important 
in a group endeavor that the members have a forum in which they can 
safely talk about their feelings.  Business meetings don't work for 
this, you need a separate gathering for it and a process which allows 
open-ness and freedom to say what you really feel.

Behavioral feedback, group open letters, feelings circles, wisdom 
councils are all ways to deal with unexpressed feelings.  A good 
counselor/mediator can train a group in one or more of these methods 
and also provide mediation in conflicts.

I wrote an article in the Winter issue of Cohousing Magazine about one 
way to set up such a forum, called a feelings circle and would be 
willing to send a copy of that article to any group who wants it if 
they send me a SASE.

Rob Sandelin
Puget Sound Cohousing Network
22020 East Lost Lake Rd
Snohomish, WA  98290

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