|Handling disputes in cohousing||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Fred H Olson (fholsoncohousing.org)|
|Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 08:11:01 -0700 (MST)|
George Krasle <GSKrasle [at] hotmail.com> is the author of the message below. It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at] cohousing.org> because the message included HTML ; PLEASE do not post HTML, see http://csf.colorado.edu/cohousing/2001/msg01672.html -------------------- FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS -------------------- A Quote from Rob Sandelin in this list: "You may be the only one with your set of values in the group, and in the worse case, you can become marginalized and mistreated until you leave. More than a few people have left community over values differences. I hope this is not the case and encourage you to seek mediation should you find evidence of actions of marginalization." My question is what to do if the marginalization is immediate upon joining, and mediation is refused? At Songaia (www.songaia.com), I and my wife joined with explicit conditions, agreed to, in writing, that we would be allowed to move in our greenhouse and collection of orchids and other plants (many of them endangered species), but this was denied, without vote after we made the real-estate transaction. Over six months, I tried everything I could think of to encourage fulfillment of the "covenant" that was made before joining, or to obtain mediation, but was refused. Many of the decisions were recorded "unanimously" over my objections, and I was told in several cases that "Junior Members" like me would not be permitted to enter proposals or opt for certain options during construction (like electrical outlets in the basement [for lights, as an alternative to the denied greenhouse]) that were reserved for "Seniors." After over thirty years of avid large-scale gardening and horticulture, even giving classes at Tilth (http://www.seattletilth.org/), I was denied any opportunity to even plant a row of potatoes on the garden. My seed spuds (which I had brought from our house of twelve years) were taken from me and turned-over to a more Senior member for planting. I have to say that the garden and landscaping that resulted from their decisions is pretty pathetic! My friends in the horticulture field laugh sadly at the wasted potential. Rob has made it clear that his position is that I was not sufficiently humble in approaching the leaders, that having presented these "demands" at the beginning was presumptuous, and contract notwithstanding, the leaders had the right to deny them after we joined. In response to my request for mediation, he was called-in to present a workshop, and to deal with the "disaffected member." What could I have done? The promotional materials did not mention an hierarchical authority structure, or anything implying that agreements could be abrogated after buy-in. I thought that getting the agreements, promises, up-front was enough, and that the bylaws, anyway, required consensus, or at least majority vote. Now I have to tell the folks at Woodland Park Zoo (http://www.zoo.org/conserve/cons_ed/cons_ed.html) and the U.W. Botany Department (http://depts.washington.edu/botweb/) that my teaching and distribution collections have been destroyed, thirty years of work. I will someday have to rely on their reciprocation of my generosity to rebuild, once I live somewhere I CAN have a greenhouse and garden. As you can guess, my experience with co-housing has been very negative, but I could have avoided it if I had known up-front more about what I was getting into. Maybe this is not POSSIBLE, for I expect most folks would avoid joining if they were warned, so no warnings can be issued, lest (as would have happened here), the construction schedule be delayed. Our joining brought SG up to "full membership," which allowed the financial tranactions to proceed and construction to begin. I guess they agreed to allow the greenhouse out of desperation to complete the roster, and once our money was committed, our good-will was no longer required. Please, I would appreciate comments. George S. Krasle _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe and other info: http://www.communityforum.net/mailman/listinfo/cohousing-l
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