Re: The Red Mercedes [was Consensus, Majority Vote, "Blocks"]
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 6 Nov 2011 08:42:09 -0800 (PST)
On 5 Nov 2011, at 12:59 PM, Dane Laverty wrote:

> My less selfish reason is that I want to provide a "reset button" for people. 
> I want a community for people who are stuck without skills, education, or 
> work experience, a place that provides people with the space, contacts, and 
> resources [snip] So I guess what I'm envisioning isn't so much a long-term 
> cohousing community as it is a sort of staging area, a boarding school for 
> life. I would be a place where people would come for a few years, get set up, 
> and then head out again.

I wished for this for my son who didn't go to college. He needed the place to 
develop independence and not have to live by all the rules of the home designed 
for younger children. A dorm and house parents for working 18-21 year olds. 

If such a place were built on a cohousing model, run and managed by the 
residents, it might not be too expensive to live in. Many retreats designed 
allow people to rethink are really designed for short expensive vacations. A 
rental model would also allow choosing residents more carefully. If the 
community is providing services, they can't take on people who don't have the  
industriousness to rebuild. It wouldn't be able to help people with mental 
illness or addictions and thus would have to screen carefully. Treatment 
facilities require much more public or private support than a rethinking and 
retooling community could provide.

There are people around the country building "single room occupancy" housing 
that has shared kitchens and other facilities. Searching on "single room 
occupancy" might bring them up. Some are designed like "half-way" houses with 
some treatment support and supervision. In Manhattan, this housing model 
developed out of hotel living and people do live in both for their lifetimes.

There would be pressure from government agencies to take people that the 
community might not be able to help. The lure is steady, guaranteed money, but 
it can make the community dependent on financial support from sources that send 
residents who are not able to contribute to the community — and even will prey 
on it. A healthy amount of skepticism is wise.

Twin Oaks allowed themselves to become dependent on one customer — a large 
retail outlet. When that outlet stopped ordering their hammocks, they were 
essentially out of business. After that they diversified and did more of their 
own marketing.

> I'm not sure that this addresses any of your points about the assumed
> absence of conflict. My hope is that, since this community would function
> more like a program than a neighborhood, and due to the short-term nature
> of the stay for most of the residents, there would be less friction.

Conflict develops very fast — it doesn't have to be huge to cause daily 
irritations — and move-in is probably the most difficult time (or after the new 
has worn off). If people are betwixt and between, they are probably also 
unhappy and irritable. And even embarrassed to find themselves in "such a 
place." It takes time to overcome unreasonable expectations and build a 
reputation as cool.

One reason people might find themselves in need of such a facility is that they 
can't handle conflict well. Conflict is daily if you are dealing with another 
person — you can't always be in perfect alignment, even with yourself. You have 
to know how to work it out. (I'm not suggesting that I know.)

> I think you've touched on the key point with your suggested regular 5 - 15
> minute conflict resolution meeting. In the computer programming world, the
> popular methodology *du jour* is called "Agile programming". It consists of
> several team management practices, one of which being the "daily stand-up
> meeting".

I think this sounds like a very useful practice for raising conflicts. Often 
they just need to be raised — I am routinely surprised and surprise others with 
things that are irritating. 

Can you recommend a website that summarizes these practices? I've heard of some 
of them because Agile people are very interested in systems thinking and thus 
gravitate toward dynamic governance.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities." Walt Kelly

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