From: Lyle Scheer (
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 08:42:01 -0800 (PST)
On 2/24/10 7:58 AM, Kristen Simmons wrote:
> I haven't found anywhere in the cohousing literature specifically about
> inclusiveness or exclusiveness. Although certainly deliberately inflicting
> pain on a neighbor would seem to be not very "cohouse-y".
Perhaps unrelated, but this thread is reminding me of thoughts I've had
about consensus and my community's struggle with consensus...  I believe
my community has some trouble around consensus because we spend a lot of
time trying to get a solution that everyone agrees to.  I do not believe
this is actually consensus.  This, in my mind, is very similar to
attempting to find solutions or make rules that makes everyone happy. 

I would liken this sort of situation as somewhat similar to our current
congressional deadlock on healthcare.  I liken it to this with some
trepidation as that whole mess I'm sure would bring up specific
emotional responses which I'm not looking for.  As for my example,
congress is in deadlock from two very different directions.  Doing
nothing is invariably worse than doing something.  While each side
likens the other side as disaster, it appears to me that the truth of
the matter is that either side would be better than nothing.  Perhaps my
trepidation is uncalled for.... those emotional responses are also
things that are seen in consensus discussions.  Polarization seems to be
the problem here.  I'm claiming, for purposes of this discussion, that
if you have a reaction to either extremes in healthcare solutions, that
this reaction is what is destructive to the process.   If you consider
socialization akin to communism (or even that communism is the devil),
or if you consider free-market as a failure, perhaps you're falling into
the polarization trap.

On the other side of this, it seems not healthy to a community to have
any festering discontents, negative emotions, or (and this may be
stretching) disagreements.

I'm curious to hear about other experiences in co-housing on how your
particular group handles this balance.  If I understand the process of
consensus, if working properly, explores but does not necessarily "fix"
the emotions, discontents, or disagreements, but potentially asks the
minority or even the majority to consent (allow) a decision to be made
and live with it for the best interests of the whole community.

The balance I'm referring to is where do you compromise and where do you
request consent to the policy as originally conceived?  I've seen
various "bars" to exceed... does it meet community values?  Is it in the
best interest of the community or a personal feeling you are exploring? 
However, there seem to be many cases where this is not entirely clear,
and it could go either way.  Do you just flip a coin or take a straw
poll?  Do you try it one way for 6 months and the other way for 6
months?  What do you do if there is no clear direction evolving?  This
is especially hard if there is a clear minority/majority position.

- Lyle

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