Re: Last resort dealing with very difficult member
From: Fred-List manager (
Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 05:56:11 -0700 (PDT)
Diana Leafe Christian <diana [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
after putting the attachment at:

--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

I do have a specific suggestion which can help in this situation. I
call it the "Many Raindrops Make a Flood" method, and it really is a
measure of last resort.

This kind of awful, untenable situation certainly does happen,
especially in cohousing.** It often remains invisible in the
communities movement, and in the specific cohousing part of the
communities movement, because people don't' want to talk about it out
loud, or publicly. People often think their community has failed, or
something is wrong with their community, if kindness, NVC language,
Restorative circles, mediations, outside consultants who specialize in
conflict and so on, haven't' made a difference with a person I all
"the challenging community member."

** I believe this happens more often in cohousing than in
non-cohousing intentional communities for two reasons. First, when
there is no waiting list with pre-screened members who've gone through
a clear and thorough membership process first in order to get on the
list, or there is a waiting list but someone sells to someone off the
list, the group may  -- may -- someone who consistently annoys,
frustrates, or scares other people. Who seems to be frequently highly
emotionally reactive and, if they attend meetings, can disrupt or
greatly slow down meetings. And if they don't attend meetings, still
disruptive and scary and hurtful one on when when they meet people
around the community. Second, even if the person were screened in some
rudimentary way to get on a waiting list, it's not enough to determine
whether a person may have a serious ongoing emotional disturbance.
They person may have had unhealed trauma from an earlier time
resulting in a permanent personality disorder like extreme
reactiveness, little to no empathy for others, or delusions, until or
unless healed with outside healing help like therapy. We don't usually
meet people like this at work, for example, because they wouldn't have
been hired. Or if hired, they may have been fired. So many community
members, including cohousers, are completely at a loss about what to
do, especially after that whole series of good-faith remedies that
don't change anything.  I imagine you may have considered that the
person has a a serious emotional disturbance or is actually mentally

This can  happen in non-cohousing communities too, but with different
buy-in legalities current members can say No Thank you to someone who
seems disturbed and/or whose references don't check out.

As some of you reading this may know, I do informal research on what
helps communities thrive and succeed, and this certainly includes
cohousing. And also do workshops and consultants for groups about
this, and write about it. So this is the background from which I
presume to speak about this with some certainty.

I would like to share this "Many Raindrops Make a Flood" method with
anyone on the list who's interested. My workshop handout on it is two
pages double-spaced and 900 words, so it's too long for uploading as a
message, I think.

Or I'd be happy to send it to anyone directly if you email me. diana [at]

Another thing groups can do  if the person consistently disrupts or
slows down meetings, is to change the governance and decision-making
method to one which doesn't allow any one person to block a proposal.
I can say more about this, as this is the main thing I'm studying in
community nowadays. My own community did this -- we had to. I can say
more about this if you'd like me to.


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