Re: public use of coho facilities & liability
From: Stuart Staniford-Chen (
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 12:11:19 -0600
Mela Silva writes:

> It also showed us that we could take chances and deal with resulting
> problems.

I'd just like to highlight this because I think it's a key lesson for
success in living in cohousing.  It's often good to try something without
fully understanding how it will work, on the principle that the group has 
people of good-will who work well together, and therefore problems can
be fixed after they actually emerge, rather than worrying about theoretical

It's called "trusting the process".  An example I recall is that I was very
worried about having a television in the Common House - I had various fears
about people wanting to watch it during dinner etc.  Since I wasn't the
only person who felt that way, we formed a committee to draw up rules about
how the television would be used, etc.  These rules (or any others) could
not be consensed on by the group.

I now realize that all this activity and worry was completely unnecessary.
The right approach is to put the TV in the common house, and then wait to
see what aspects of it are actual problems in real-life.  Then bring those
up in meetings.  It's *much* easier to agree on a fix to some definite,
limited, actual, problem than it is to agree on fixes to all possible
problems that might occur.  As it happened, I don't believe I've had any
problems at all with the way the CH TV is used.

The only exception to this is that it can be useful to worry about
problems which, by their very nature, could not be handled by the group
unless they had been dealt with in advance.  An example - what if a member
sued the group?  If you haven't set up a procedure for ejecting that member
from your deliberations while you decide how to respond to the suit, you've
got problems (eg if you had consensus with no fall-back to a vote).


Stuart Staniford-Chen                   | Dept of Computer Science
stanifor [at]                    |   UC Davis, CA 95616
h:(916) 756-8697; w:(916) 754-8742      |          and | N St Cohousing Community

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