Re: Disputes Committtee
From: Bonnie Fergusson (
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 14:30:26 -0800 (PST)
Dear David,
  Our Group Process Committeee is the one that
specializes in making sure we keep good process and
that disputes don't get out of hand.  We have about 6
people on that committee, all folks who have taken
group facilitation training and who have shown skills
in this area.  This committee is in charge of making
sure the HOA meetings are facilitated well and that
there is a place to take communication concerns or
disputes.  If an outside mediator was needed this
committee would probably come to the HOA meeting and
propose that we hire some specific person and the
final decision to do so would be a whole group one. 
Usually this is not necessary, as most disputes can be
managed by the group process committee itself. 
   We encourage ongoing training and education in
group facilitation and concensus decision making and
good commmunication skills.  We have occasional (once
a month or so, recently) wine and cheese events, or
potlucks, for the whole community (in practice for
whoever shows up) where we listen to an audiotape on
one of these topics, and then discuss them.  We
recently decided to purchase a set on communication
that we like, with a view to using it this way. 
Sometimes we sponsor workshops or hire outside
trainers to come in for a day or half day. There's an
ongoing committment to improving the whole communities
communication skills which the group process committee
   When things get sticky, we remind folks, hopefully
diplomatically, about good communications practices
and our process agreements.  That's usually all that
is necessary.  Sometimes we make process suggestions
at HOA meetings or revisit issues where problems
occured.  The most important thing I think is to have
a group whose official primary responsibility is to
think well long term about the group communication
issues and encourage community education.  An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure.
              Bonnie Fergusson
              Swan's Market Cohousing
              Oakland, CA 

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