Re: limited-access events in common space
From: Rob Sandelin (floriferousmsn.com)
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2010 19:54:49 -0800 (PST)
We define events like this as interest groups. There are several and a few
of them are exclusionary, for example women's gatherings. Never been a
problem before that I know of here, the exclusion part is not malicious or
mean, its just a particular interest and nobody seems to mind. The person
who objects strongly should be asked about what their problem with interest
groups are. Sometimes its not the particular group which causes the problem,
it's some other thing that seems only distantly connected but when light is
shined on it, helps everybody see what the problem really is. For example,
sometimes political or social things might be causing the discomfort, for
example a gay/lesbian group could cause objection. Sometimes the assumed
politics of a group cause people who disagree to keep quiet rather than risk
their relationships, and bringing out objections over an abstraction is how
they express their discontent while pretending to go along with the status
quo. 

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood 
Snohomish County, WA

-----Original Message-----
From: Muriel Kranowski [mailto:murielk [at] vt.edu] 
Sent: Sunday, January 10, 2010 7:34 PM
To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
Subject: [C-L]_ limited-access events in common space


We're having an internal disagreement over an issue that is evoking some
strong feelings, and I very much want to hear feedback from other
communities.

The situation is that a subgroup of members who feel they have a lot in
common (let's say they are "left-handed redheads" or LHR for short) have
been getting together once a week in the Common House, for a congenial
snack-and-chat hour. These get-togethers are posted on the community
calendar and everyone knows about them. The group has made it clear that
only left-handed redheads are welcome.

A member who is neither left-handed nor a redhead objects strongly to the
idea that other members can be excluded from social events that regularly
occur in a common space. This person would like to join in and have the
pleasure of snacking and chatting too.

But if these get-togethers became general y'all-come social events, they
would no longer be of specific interest to the LHRs, who really value being
able to talk about their own specific issues in the semi-privacy of that CH
space.  They feel entitled to this private use of the common space, which
doesn't appear to inconvenience anyone else.

Other members occasionally reserve space in the CH for meetings or events of
external groups that they belong to, and there don't seem to be any
objections to those events being open only to the members of that group. 
The LHRs' gathering is the first time an internal subgroup has intentionally
scheduled closed events in the CH and we have no norms or rules about it.

So, is it legitimate for a self-defined subgroup to meet in a common space
and exclude other members?  Has this come up, or does this occur, in other
communities?  And even if not, I'd like to hear your philosophical take on
it.

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