Re: Troublesome Community Members: What's a Board to do?
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2012 07:55:26 -0700 (PDT)
There is an extreme example of this back in the archives, where the community 
in the end DID go to court and force the person to move. 

That was a case of serious mental illness.

Its worth reading because they had advice about steps they wish they had taken 

It might come up under searches for psychosis or mental illness.

I use some of their advice in my job fairly often.

Elizabeth Magill

On Aug 8, 2012, at 8:49 AM, Sharon Villines wrote:

> On Aug 8, 2012, at 1:02 AM, Holly McNutt <holly.mcnutt [at]> wrote:
>> What, if anything, can a board do to reign in, or at least contain the 
>> damage caused by, a particularly Troublesome Community Member? (TCM)
> Firstly, I wouldn't consider this to be "just" a board responsibility, though 
> the board could take leadership. If the board considers it "their" problem, 
> then other community members can sit back and watch.
>> From both sides — seeing a community member in conflict and being in 
>> conflict with the community (to the extent that there is a "community") I 
>> would suggest:
> 1. Don't panic. This has happened a million times and everyone survived.
> 2. If the person is calling in the legal process, or threatening to, consult 
> experts on whatever legal process it is so you are clear on what your options 
> are. You don't have to be combative about it. Just do it the same way you 
> figure out what toothpaste is or what magazines are available at the library. 
> Cohousing too often has its head in the sand about legal issues. Most laws 
> are actually very sensible and were designed to address exactly this kind of 
> problem. Read the law yourself - you don't have to spend a fortune in legal 
> fees. Consul the local chapter of the Communities Association Institute (CAI).
> 3. Find someone who can talk to this person and whom they will talk to so you 
> can clarify issues and keep communications open. Miscommunications are so 
> easy and isolation not helpful. This communications person may have to change 
> from time to time because they will get tired of the role, but we all have 
> people we can talk to and people we can't. If the person has a lawyer, talk 
> to the lawyer. (If the lawyer will only talk to a lawyer, do not feel obliged 
> to comply.)
> 4. Do nice things for this person — they feel conflict as much as you do. 
> Treat them like any other member of the community who is having a rough time. 
> Take them a pie, or leave it outside their door if you don't want to talk 
> them. This will make you feel much better. Do unto others ….
> 5. Remember what Rob Sandelin said many years ago — some people leave 
> cohousing like they leave anything else in life, they just go. Others go out 
> in a hail of bullets and thunder and lightning. They have to leave the place 
> in rubble in order to get themselves out believing that they are right to go. 
> Let this person be right. Admit that you can't do what they want you to do or 
> be what they want you to be. Maybe they will leave.
> 6. This is the reason you have a majority vote back up. Not everyone is sane 
> or wants to be. You can only reach consensus with people who are willing and 
> able to discuss issues sensibly and participate in a process of resolving 
> objections, which requires exploring ideas, testing possible solutions, and 
> measuring results. 
> 7. Being nice doesn't mean being wishy-washing and not making decisions. Be 
> firm. Draw the line in the sand, and remember it's only sand. You can change 
> the line if it seems appropriate.
> 8. Remember what Laird Schaub says — paraphrasing because I can't remember 
> exactly — You will eventually have to pay for not making decisions, and the 
> interest is high.
> Please keep the list informed. All communities confront this at one point or 
> another. We get these questions but often don't hear about what was tried, 
> what worked, and what the outcomes were.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines, Washington DC
> Save Our Planet. It's the only one with chocolate.
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