Re: difficult members
From: Diane Simpson (
Date: Sun, 25 May 1997 22:47:18 -0500
>Sorry to air our dirty laundry but we are obviously still dealing with the
>whole thing. We decided to organise a consensus workshop for the group and
>thought that would be the best way to re-introduce her to meetings, using a
>common learning situation that we all need.

>We are really under a lot of pressure to get the plans/costings in on time
>so >that we can put a bid in for the land before the end of the financial
>year, >otherwise we run the risk of losing our money.

>Are we doing the right thing?
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Well, I'm not a conflict-resolution expert like Rob, but I'll chime in with
my two cents anyway. I have a few observations:

1) It's unfortunate that intra-group conflicts have to be considered "dirty
laundry." I think one of the most useful purposes of this list is the
ability to get rapid feedback from other people who have been in the same
situations. I'd rather see more of these kinds of discussions and fewer
about where to get building materials. (Just my personal preference
folks!;.) Please don't hit me with a 2 x 4!!)

2) After two years of being on this list and attending cohousing
conferences and workshops and housing conferences and architecture classes
it has become palpably evident to me how little understanding we ordinary
people have of the development process and the kinds of decisons that have
to be made up front in order to keep a project on track. I just read in
Cohousing Journal that now *another* cohousing community overspent on
individual houses, and doesn't have enough money for the common house.
Well, now what's the point of that? Why would you want to go through all
the bother of creating a cohousing community and leave out one of its most
important components?

3) Okay, are you ready? Yes, I'm going to get on my MISSION STATEMENT high
horse again--clippity-clop-clippity-clop. If you don't have a mission
statement, write one up fast! It should give some overall direction and
guidance to the group so that intra-group disputes are viewed in light of
the mission statement. The overall aim of your project is to get this built
under budget and on time and that's a laudable goal. Sometimes individual
goals will conflict with the overall goal, and that's natural. But someone
should point out to this person that by delaying the project she is costing
the whole group a lot of money and then that money will not be available
for things like the commmon house.

4) The conflict resolution workshop idea is an excellent one. Even if it
doesn't solve all of your problems you will still have a lot of fun.
Perhaps the facilitator could frame some of the questions your group has to
deal with in such a way that will enable members to understand how
individual decisons affect the group as a whole. He or she will definitely
give you some ideas on how to make your meetings more fun, so that at least
you won't be so stressed-out after these long ordeals.

5) In my one year of attempting to organize a group, I have learned that
cohousing is an incredibly site-driven, as opposed to a mission-driven,
process. People don't stick around if you don't have a site, and then once
you do, they appear in droves. One of the unfortunate byproducts of this
state of affairs is that the members don't get to know one another until
the development process is underway. That's a very hairy time! I heard it
said in one architecture class that for the average building an architect
has to make 17,000 decisons!!! I think someone should point out to the
member in question that if everyone had a say in all 17,000 decisions for
each building the project would never, EVER get off the ground!

Well, I wish you luck, and I hope your project gets built on time. I'll
look forward to visiting you if I ever get to Tasmania!


(who may never get to Tasmania but is definitely going to Seattle!!)

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      @@@@        Diane Simpson      @@@@
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