Re: Re: more perspective on rules and regs
From: Liz (
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 09:52:26 -0700 (PDT)
Thank you Tom.

I apologize for my former email, which was sent while I was taking a "break" from fighting with Turbo Tax. I cringe each time one of my statements is quoted, because that was surely NOT how I meant to communicate.

Jenny's message also was a help to me to discern the difference between now and later, planning and living.

But Tom's email expresses my thoughts. I thought I heard a request for advice on how to talk to a community member about how they were not following an agreement that community member had been part of making. And many responses addressed just that, they were help for how to see what might be going on, and good questions to ask to get started on the discussion.

Since I felt like I, too, might be a person who would say: "hey, we've agreed to these rules, how do I figure out how to get people to follow them?", I reacted strongly to two types of messages.

1) Those that seemed (to me) to say: don't ask us unless you are presenting the whole story. (In my experience I rarely ever have the whole story, I want to be able to ask questions while still at the exploring stage.)

2) Those that seemed (to me) to say: that's a bad rule. (I've helped develop many rules in my community. Surely some of them are "bad ideas". But since we've created them together, I hope that, as we discover the error of our ways, our discussion will be about the process of fixing the mistakes, not a lecture on why it is a mistake.)

All that said, I emphasize my first statement that I am sorry that I sent the first email. For sure, the majority of the discussion has been useful tips on how to deal with the issue when it arises. And Jenny's reminder that it won't be my ideal, but will be something different and valuable, is quite useful.

Thanks for listening
Mosaic Commons
Building hopefully soon in Berlin, MA

On Apr 18, 2006, at 12:07 PM, Tom Hammer wrote:

When one agrees to join a group, I assume one agrees
to follow all the past agreements of the group as a
condition of joining.  In our group this is clearly
stated, written, and signed upon  joining.  The past
agreements should all be explained clearly.

Arguments of legalities and the Constitution are not
at all relevant, in my humble opinion.

The struggle then becomes to live within the system.

Humans in our culture are raised around me and I, and
we are very unused to "we."  We have to be open to
learning a culture of "we" to live in or start
cohousing successfully, as  I understand it.

Sometimes when we try to learn a culture of we,
feelings come up.  These feelings, especially if the
new people are not carefully taught, but even among
experienced cohousers, can be attached to a particular
issue such as fences, pets, and satellite dishes.
These are not  the real question, in my opinion, but
it is simply  where the feeling gets attached.  The
group needs to stand firm in solidarity against the
attachment of feelings to any particular issue.
Feelings will come up, and I hope there are resources
to deal with them within the group--peacemakers,
mediators, and so on.  In a long established community
like a monastery or a native American tribe, the
culture (rules) are never questioned, and there were
always people who could not fit into the group, and
they left, but the group stayed intact and healthy.

People entering cohousing, as I understand it, do not,
no matter how much money they pay for their house (old
style, individualistic thinking) get to conravene the
culture, decisions, and norms of the group.

If someone cannot learn these lessons or has so many
feelings brought up by trying to become part of "we"
that objectivity and insight about oneself and the
group and the importance of its culture are lost, then
a gentle goodbye, with grace, is in order that would
be initiated as much by the individual or family as by
the group.   I would think that would rarely happen.
Leaving would mean that the individual or family could
not grow quickly or easily enough from his/her former
place of "I" to "we", but s/he would not  be blamed.
The parting would occur with sadness but with
understanding among all parties, and someone else or
some other family would take her/his place.

Best wishes to all,

Tom Hammer
Concord Village
--where we don't yet have land, but I hope we are
learning the lessons of community as we travel the


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 08:31:28 -0400
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ more  perspective on rules and
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>

<1901e9442918a4da34d71707e66d8ce2 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=WINDOWS-1252;

On Apr 16, 2006, at 10:50 PM,
<truddick [at]> wrote:

Not specifically cohousing, but a similar kind of
idea:  a suburban
Cincinnati couple was prohibited from putting up a
privacy fence
because it
was too “visually imposing”.  So they found a way
to express themselves
without breaking any rules!


In "we-they" governance, acting out like this is
often the only way to
emphasize that we are all in this together folks. We
need to find
mutually satisfying solutions if the boat is to stay
afloat. But when
transfered into consensus communities it is odd

What most intentional communities are trying to
achieve is governance
by agreement, not by authority. The objective is
"we" not "we-they."

Since people who move into a community have not been
part of those
agreements, it is often hard for them to see that
they are violating
the whole concept of community, not just one
agreement. The learning
curve is steep so they continue to behave as if the
rules are there to
be broken.

Instead of making their case for changing the
rules--updating the
agreements--they figure out how to "get away with
things." How far can
they go? How long will it take people to notice?
Often there is some
element of "Aren't I cute?' or "See, I'm smarter
than you and you can't
catch me!". Anyone who opposes them is viewed as
being the big bad

When a two-year-old does this, it is cute and it is
smart because they
are just learning that they have free will. But when
an adult does it,
it loses it's appeal.

This makes it very difficult inter-personally for
the person who wants
to function as a "we" in accordance with the
governance structure that
preserves the integrity of the community.

Sharon Villines
Dynamic Governance (sociocracy)

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