Re: Consensus and personal relationships
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 04:45:20 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Rob and all,

On Tue, 12 Aug 2008  Rob Sandelin wrote to cohousing-L:

> One of the things I noticed back when I was traveling around the country
> doing consensus problem solving workshops and trainings was that often
> the groups with the most process problems also had the most social
> problems. In a few places it was helpful rather than focus on process
> techniques to focus on social events and connection work. I was often
> astonished at how little people knew about each other in some of the
> communities I worked with.

I think many people are often reluctant to ask "personal" questions even
fairly basic things and hence do not know each other very well.  I've
dabbled in family history / genealogy and I am amazed at how that role
seems to make it legitimate to ask questions that I would never ask
neighbors or relatives unless I already knew them well and I might be
reluctant to ask then. I suspect that Rob's role as facilitator gave
permission to ask questions that residents had been reluctant to ask each

In a sense the following:
> It seemed to me that in some cases, energy
> spent on social gatherings and informal time together talking about our
> histories, desires and hopes might be very constructive.
was giving people not only permission but encouragement to discuss
personal things.  Maybe a discussion about what kinds of information
residents agree is appropriate to share and therefore what kinds of
questions it is ok to ask each other might integrate sharing more personal
info into the ongoing life of a community.  Do communities have such

It strikes me that "informal time together" often does not result in
"talking about our histories, desires and hopes".  But rather only rather
superficial or public topics get discussed. Maybe I do not know what Rob
meant by "informal time".  Maybe "informal" meant "not directly related to
group business" but included some explict instructions or structure to
encourage sharing?  What can be done to encourage people to "talking about
our histories, desires and hopes"?  "Sharing circles" which have been
discussed on cohousing-L (See archives via link at bottom of every
message) but less structured methods would seem to be desireable also
so they happened more frequently and more as a part of the normal day
to day life of the community.

Alternately or additionally, do commuitites have a person or group whose
role it is to monitor relationships for their impact on the smooth
operation of the community? And take action if warranted?


Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411  USA        (near north Mpls)
Communications for Justice -- Free, superior listserv's w/o ads:      My Link Pg:
612-588-9532 (7am-10pm CST/CDT)   Email: fholson at

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