Re: Breakdown of Process in Cohousing
From: Juva DuBoise (
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 09:38:07 -0700 (MST)
DocArtemis - No simple answer to your situation.  Some thoughts for what
they are worth   1) When the lightening rod moves out of any community -
another will be found...the unconscious wants to be conscious! 2) Being
someone who is often the lightening rod I have learned that the personal
work (growth as painful as it is) involved in staying conscious about what
is my reaction and what is the groups is tremendous.  Don't drop out, get
support!  If you can't find someone with in the community to help you
process this (so you don't react out of anger when trying to get clarity
from the community) get help outside.  A therapist, friend, anyone who can
listen with an objective ear and heart.    I don't mean to imply that this
is your personal problem...but group growth is a joint effort.  If you are
the lightening rod now...then it is your time to be clear..3) The group may
not be ready to deal head on with this...getting help for the group is a
really good idea but if you are asking and the answer is "no" from the board
of directors because it isn't their is the job of the
community you have community meetings?  Annual or (more often)
meetings where all members attend?  This sounds (with my little knowledge of
your community and the specific dynamic's) like a group it is
a group issue...not just a few.  Being a "board member" of a community with
these issues can't be easy...I can understand the hesitancy to take this on
with out the skills....heck they would become the lightening rod.
So the question to the group isn't...lets deal with this...that could  feel
unsafe!  How to address it is the to discuss the feelings and
needs of the community as whole and the individuals involved?   Personally
and with in our community we have committed to using the Non-violent
communication process (spoken of before on this can get more
infor at the web site...NonViolent Communication -I can't remember the
address but a search for this will come up with the page)....There are other
"professionals" available to help...I am sure you will get some other

Just don't give is open to it!

Juva - CoHo in Corvallis Oregon - Forming -seeking land..
----- Original Message -----
From: "Fred H Olson" <fholson [at]>
To: "-cohousing-L mailing list" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: January 01, 2003 5:46 AM
Subject: [C-L]_Breakdown of Process in Cohousing

> DocArtemis [at] is the author of the message below.
> It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at] 
> because the message included HTML ;      PLEASE do not post HTML, see
> --------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
> I'm living in a cohousing project where there has been a critical
> of process.
> Our "community" has been living together for about two and a half years
> we have suffered many disruptive social interactions and legal conflicts.
> We have had an affair, multiple thefts and destructive behavior by an
> unmanageable teenager who has severe psychological and biochemical and
> behavioral problems, vandalism by an adult who lost his temper, verbal
> assault, accusations and fears regarding "inappropriate touching of
> children," a private "confrontation" and shaming of a member who was
> suffering mental health problems and finally a pushing and shoving match
> resulted in one member attaining a restraining order against the "other."
> The anger and fear has has gotten so virulent that one member has
> to ruin another's career.
> I've heard about the phenomenon of the "lightning rod" member in some of
> cohousing literature.  Tag... I'm it.
> I like the metaphor of the lightning rod because it is very descriptive of
> the phenomenon as I experience it.  I "pick up" the static of
> harmful social interactions and then respond with anger and outrage that
> circulating in the subterfuge of the collective unconscious.  Have there
> other cohousing neighborhoods where people act out their unconscious
> conflicts with one another
> I have been both the victim (multiple thefts by a youth who is out of
> and the restraining order) and I must also take responsibility for
> contributed towards this conflict.  I've been asking the board of
> for some direction in "process" issues (i.e., community dynamics) or to
> some kind of professional mediation for the community.  The answer that I
> keep getting over and over again is "It isn't our job."
> The board sees itself as a "rubber stamp" structure to fulfill the
> requirements of the condominium association.  The "consensus is" that
> issues are disputes between individual members of the community.  I am at
> total loss in trying to explain that dynamics of this magnitude effect
> everyone, and to ignore them is only to allow the snowball to accelerate
> are destructive to the well-being of the community.
> I am writing this to the cohousing list in order to gain some perspective.
> Have things like this happened in other cohousing communities?  Have there
> ever been failed communities?  Does the lightening rod personality finally
> give it up and move?  What happens after the lightening rod leaves? What
> happens if the lightening rod just decides to downgrade the community to a
> neighborhood and continues to live as though his/her community members are
> strangers?  How does one deal with passive aggressive and even aggressive
> dynamics in a neighborhood.
> Heady stuff for the New Year.  It breaks my heart.
> I will finish this inquiry with two quotations from two sages from the
> Buddhist and Jewish traditions:
> Anger
> When the community was discussing ethics after Zazen one evening Black
> remarked, "I have been having a hard time dealing with my anger."
> Raven said, "Check it out afterward."
> Black Bear said, "What good will that do?"
> Raven said, "It might have been Great Bear's anger."
> Robert Aitken from Zen Master Raven
> "God created human beings because he likes good stories"
> Isaac Basheval Singer
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