Re: Re: Power Struggles After Move-In
From: Elizabeth Stevenson (
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 10:37:01 -0700 (MST)
We have what we call a "point of humor", in addition to the usual "point of
process",  "point of information", etc., that we have legitimized in order
to be able to continue orderly meetings with some spontaneity. It is
therefore completely within our rules to speak out of turn, as long as it's
funny. We also have a figurative "bin"(not in the English sense of a trash
container!), in which we keep ideas or problems that people want to discuss
at a future date, but would be inappropriate to derail the meeting to

For instance, David agrees with a decision, but not the process before the
meeting, and asks to have a discussion of notification procedures put in the
bin. It gets written on a big pad of paper we keep for this purpose. A few
weeks or months later, it gets put on the agenda as a discussion item.

We have had countless meetings where we have had what some might consider
poor process, as described below. But we also know when a meeting needs to
be structured. For instance, a budget meeting doesn't have a lot of
frivolity. But a meeting where we ware having a values discussion might get
pretty loose. The amount of sticking to the rules depends greatly on what is
being discussed.

That said, we have had our share of bad times with meetings. There was an
entire year that I didn't attend, because I didn't like how they were being
run. We were in a phase of tightening up the process, after it had gotten
lax. They went too far, and the same person, whose style I really disliked,
ran every meeting. Nobody can control cohousing by himself for very long,
and the pendulum swung back eventually.

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento California

website is down until further notice
tamgoddess [at]

>> However, it happens when group members get happy with one another.  Not
>> necessarily that they agree, but they come together with a mutual sense of
>> excitement and eagerness.  The conversation gets unstructured, people
>> interrupt freely; they exchange visions, gags, quips, puns; they forget
>> time; they smile and make eye contact and perhaps touch; they sing,
>> ritualize, dramatize; they brainstorm, freewheel, and avoid hasty criticism
>> of ideas.
> I would kill for this kind of meeting. I so often feel micromanaged in our
> meetings. They are "nice" but not very inspiring and very controlled.
> Absolute agendas, time limits, speaking queues. All the things the current
> theory says is good process. We get stuff done but I often don't care -- I'm
> waiting to be engaged.
> We never follow an idea or thought through to its conclusion. Process seems
> to be more focused on the mechanics and not on depth of analysis.
> Sharon

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