Re: Use of email
From: Bryan Syverson (
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2014 10:08:36 -0800 (PST)
While I agree with you, Philip, I think the problem is that a lot of the
communication within a cohousing community is not "doing business in a
residential setting".  Our communication feels much more personal and,
therefore, can more easily push emotional buttons.

In your professional life, if someone gets their knickers so badly in a
twist that they are no longer helping your organization, you can choose to
stop doing business with them.  Furthermore, you know that once your
current project is complete, you may never need to deal with this person
again.  In your cohousing life, you have neither option.

When your neighbor down the way feels like he/she is not being heard or
having their opinion disregarded, the ill-feelings can build and become a
poison to the community as a whole.  Community members continue to have to
deal with each other.  I suppose in the extreme case a resident who feels
alienated might simply move out; not a positive solution.

We have an email policy that largely mirrors Tierra Nueva's.  We don't have
a moderator or any method of enforcement, but in general most of our email
communication is business-like and bland.

I agree with Sharon, too, in that those who favor "face-to-face" over email
are often contradictory in their arguments.  However, she failed to mention
what I think is the main contradiction.  I think that those those who argue
against conflict-resolution via email in favor of conflict-resolution via
face-to-face conversation aren't really trying to move the process
forward.  Rather, they just don't want to see the conflict.  Our community
has a specific "conflict-resolution policy" which in my opinion is really
just a

Such is the joy of living in community.
All relationships are noisy and difficult sometimes, but it's better than
being at peace in isolation.

-Bryan Syverson
La Querencia Fresno Cohousing

> Message: 2
> Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 18:50:10 -0500
> From: Philip Dowds <rphilipdowds [at]>
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Use of email
> So here's my question:  Why is the Internet regarded as such a high-risk,
> error-prone, annoying and alienating vehicle for cohousing communities?
>  Why are e-mails seen as the problem, and meetings as the solution?  More
> generally:  Why is our professional experience irrelevant for doing
> business in a residential setting?
> R Philip Dowds
> Cornerstone Village Cohousing
> Cambridge, MA

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