Re: Dealing with a difficult community member
From: lcamundsen (
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2010 10:05:42 -0700 (PDT)
Wish I could say oh well here's what we did and it worked but I can ask some questions and make some comments on our experience as I see it.
First ,What structures for finding resolution
are there in the community mandate for dealing with conflict between residents? What we have is an agreement that conflicts between members will be dealt with directly by the people involved as soon and as informally as possible. If this does not work then both will agree on a mediator/friend who will listen and help clarify the issues. From there the matter can be referred to the committee most relevant. For example, noise at late hours, or one person dominating a meeting with long drawn out speeches. These are both individual need as opposed to group need . These would be referred to the community life committee-whatever it is called At that meeting the mediator and the residents with the complaint would present the situation . The third party would probably do the talking. The committee members can give information eg. reminder of a noise limit agreement in the community guidelines, a complaint from the neighbours that needs to be answered to by the whole community,or the committee can ask the three to work on a proposal for mitigating their discomfort.that will come before the community at the next meeting.. The proposal would be general in its intent separating the individual need from the community need.For example in the case of the person who talks too long a time limit on individual speakers might be instituted in meetings -for everyone not just that one person. Has the community invested time and training in communication education specially for cohousing people/groups? We are lucky to have Tree Bresson (look her up on line)conducting on going workshops in our cohousing communities here. I would say our net result from the work of the four members who are taking this series is higher trust level and clearer communication among members and greater efficiency in meetings. I think we forget that we are on a cutting edge within our culture in that we choose to live in cohousing communities which are collaborative by nature-more so than many of us are equipped to cope with. The last question I have sounds rude and I don't intend that but What are the "benefits" every participant gets from participating in this conflict with the "difficult person" including of course that person.? The last comment I have to offer is on gossip. Early on we were fortunate to have a resident, since moved on, was one of the "difficult people" herself, who brought it to the community meeting's attention more than once that gossip is a serious issue in community and best not practiced. It is just too fraught with misery and danger to trust levels . Alot of us do remember this and act accordingly. My observation is that,as you say, this particular person in your group may be ill. In that case contact with extended family or medical help may be required. This is not uncommon especially as those of us in my generation get older-and older-and older. It is a useful conversation for the community to have. Good Luck! In our case time was the great healer I would say. The few really difficult people eventually left.

----- Original Message ----- From: <SweetSoulDreamin [at]>
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 10:12 AM
Subject: [C-L]_ Dealing with a difficult community member

Hi all,

I used to be on the cohousing L about 6 years ago and actually found the
community we live in that way.  We have been living in our cohousing
community for 5+ years now. I went through the achieves and read a bunch of what
has been posted on my topic and would still like feed back.

I find in our community that people tend to be confrontation phobic so a
lot of issues go by way of adding to undercurrent.  We have established a
Community Health Team to try and deal with some of these issues.  I am
currently on it an one of the founding members of the team.

My questions has to do with what other communities have done when one
member becomes a repetitive problem for several people in the community. It is
especially sticky in that she seems to be teetering on the edge of real
depression. She also has created divisiveness within the community through lobbing her side of things where other's feel like it's no one else business
and  don't counteract with their side of things.

I know there are no easy answers but I was hoping other cohousing
communities might already have established a protocol for dealing with such
situations.  Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

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