Re: Learning from Hard Decisions
From: Martie Weatherly (martiewearthlink.net)
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 11:45:02 -0600 (MDT)
A brief response from Martie Weatherly at Liberty Village:

I feel that one of the toughest decisions we made was whether or not to
pay the county several thousand dollars for road repairs to our entrance
road which we thought had been turned over to the county. It turns out
some of the paper work was never done and they said it was ours. We
received an offer to split the cost and a very emotional meeting about
whether or not we should do that. 

It seems like a black and white issue: some people said we should not
cave in to the county or they will be badgering us forever, and some
felt strongly that they negotiated in good faith and we needed to go
half way. 

It was the first time someone blocked a decision, although in
retrospect, we had not gone far enough addressing the concerns to really
have consensus on the issue. One person blocked it but a number of
people still had concerns about the proposal. 

We decided not to respond right away and put it off until the next
meeting two weeks later.

At that meeting, it took two hours of listening and getting peoples
concerns before a proposal came up that satisfied everyone: Pay the
money with a cover letter objecting and requesting it be refunded. The
person who objected the most was part of the letter writing team. We
sent the letter, paid the bill and our request for a refund was denied.
But we didn't get zapped with having to pay the whole bill, which we
were afraid of, if we objected.

We learned, that no matter how difficult it might seem, by listening to
everyone's concerns and staying with it, we did come up with the wisdom
of the group and a solution that satisfied everyone. 

We are now going to do more work on the process of blocking. Our
temptation is always to override the block, but what really worked was
listening to the concern expressed and keeping looking for a group
decision, which we did.

Our most difficult issue right now is whether to have a dumpster or
garbage cans - that seems right now to have two irreconcilable sides.
But then, we are still in the middle of that one!

Martie Weatherly
Liberty Village
martiew [at] earthlink.net

Joani Blank wrote:
> 
> HAVEN'T HEARD FROM ANYONE YET IN RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE BELOW. IT WOULD BE
> GOOD IF YOU'D LET ME KNOW THAT YOU INTEND RESPOND. MY ASSISTANT POINTS OUT
> THAT NO ONE WANTS TO THINK ABOUT THIS HARD STUFF, BUT I'M SURE THERE ARE A
> FEW BRAVE SOULS OUT THERE WHO WILL.
> 
> JOANI
> 
> Hello cohousing friends,
> 
> Virtually every cohousing group has to struggle with a really tough
> decision from time to time. I'm putting together an article for the
> upcoming issue of Cohousing  about some of those decisions. Here are some
> of the things I hope to learn from your stories:
> 
> 1) what the issue was,
> 2) why the proponents of each position felt they were "right" or felt that
> the position they were supporting was best for the community,
> 3) what you (as one participant and observer) feel was really behind the
> various positions, and most importantly,
> 4) how did you work through your differences to a decision that everyone
> could consent to.
> 
> Finally, I'd like to know what you feel your group has learned from your
> experience which will make future decisions a little (or a lot) less 
> difficult.
> 
> I'd like it if you would float brief responses here on cohousing-l which
> may encourage others to offer their own stories. If you prefer, you may
> write directly to me (joani [at] swansway.com). And if you would rather not 
> give
> details by email, please send me your phone number (or call me at
> 510-834-7399) and I can interview you.  If you are the only or one of
> just  few people in your community who receives cohousing-l, and you think
> someone else in your community might be in a better position to respond to
> this query, please pass it along to him or her, and invite him/her to get
> in touch with me.
> 
> This is a good opportunity to help other groups as well as a chance to
> learn more about yourselves, and I thank in advance those who are able and
> willing to take the time to contribute to this effort.
> 
> Joani Blank
> Swan's Market Cohousing
> Oakland, CA
> 
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