Re: specific retreat idea's
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 10:23:12 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 27, 2008, at 12:20 PM, juva [at] wrote:

I had a process planned but after a conversation with one of my neighbors, I am questioning if it is the most useful exercise. The goal is to help us all look at the affect we have on the community in how we get our individual needs met and how the community's needs being met affects the individuals.

My dream is that we come away with a renewed desire to have all the needs met, greater understanding of our personal needs vers wants and how we can be successful in getting these met in a way that supports the community needs being met.

As a person who regularly drives people in my community totally nuts because I have different standards than they do and insist on expressing them, not always diplomatically (to say the least), I would suggest a focus on #2 rather than on #1. Move forward.

Spending time looking back on unhappiness, focusing on how "you" affect "me," or defining everyone's needs, all in one retreat, I don't think will help. People are who they are and can only change behaviors if it is their personal goal. Most of us like ourselves even if others don't, and everyone has needs. Getting a large group of people to effectively deal with everyone's needs is probably not going to happen.

As one person said a year or so after we moved in, "I didn't move here to live in a therapy group." One person said just last week, almost 8 years after move-in, "Look, I know my neighbors and do my work. I don't have the time or the desire to develop trust relationships with 65 people."

The argument about who is affected whom first is also a biggie. You could probably spend the whole retreat figuring that out. No one remembers chronology quite the same, particularly people who are upset. In some instances, you may need something like the NVC process for sorting out feelings, but I think that has to be done two people at a time (plus facilitators and problem solvers). I would make that suggestion and plan it for a future time. Or if you think certain issues will affect the retreat, try this process before hand.

So I would move forward beginning with something like, "Now that we have moved in and tested our assumptions about what cohousing would be like, where would you want the community to go now?" Perhaps do a round on how is it different from what you expected and what possibilities people see now. When people begin saying, "you did this to me and you _made_ me feel this way," I would try to translate that statement into a goals statement, rather than a blaming statement, and relate them to possible larger group goals.

I'm also not sure a group can really focus on one goal at this point. A lot of expectations and assumptions may be so fractured that people have not refocused on new group goals, and may not be ready to. Personal goals will have changed also.

Sharon Villines
Sociocracy, a Deeper Democracy

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