Re: Types of conflict in cohousing -- did I miss any?
From: Fred-List manager (
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2016 04:58:08 -0800 (PST)
"Mary Baker, Solid Communications" <mary [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
due to a format problem.
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
I do appreciate the input, Sharon and Tom. And the extra homework
youʼve done.

You may have missed my statement earlier in this thread that cohousers
are not my main demographic for the workbook.  (In fact, theyʼre a
tiny fraction of 1% of the demographic.)  I have allotted about 500
words at the end of the workbook for a quick addendum about conflict
in cohousing, since that is what inspired the project. But the OED
definitions alone are about 523 words!

I thought that maybe some quick mentions of types of conflict in
cohousing would be appropriate. But if thatʼs too broad, maybe it
would be better to use the limited space available for stories and
suggestions about actual resolution in cohousing communities and how
those resolutions were inspired by cohousing philosophies?


From: Tom Smyth
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2016 11:26 AM
To: Mary Baker, Solid Communications ; cohousing-l [at]
Cc: Sharon Villines
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Types of conflict in cohousing -- did I miss any?

Mary thanks for your work on list. I think it's super intriguing. Some
thoughts about conflict:

  dissension, objection, protesting, doubt, withholding, pouting or
  even the occasional prima donna temper tantrum.

Dictionary definitions aside, in the circles in which I move, nearly
all of these (except perhaps doubt) can be considered "conflict".

  If you look at the definition of conflict in Merriam-Webster,
youʼll see words like war, battle, struggle for power, aggression,
antagonism, anger, dramatic action.

I don't see the purpose in attempting to differentiate between
different qualitative levels of conflict. "Dissension" could be easily
seen as a "struggle for power". A "temper tantrum" can certainly be
perceived as "aggression". "Protesting" can often be "dramatic".
Certainly it is worthwhile differentiating violent conflict. I think
most on this list would agree violent conflict is not healthy. But
"aggression" vs. "pouting" seems like a false dichotomy to me. The
results of both can be equally damaging.

Furthermore, the softer kinds of conflict you list tend to be the
beginnings of the harder ones (e.g. war) if they are not healthily
dealt with.

If you look in the OED, the first group of definitions has to do with
violent conflict, and the second set says 'transf. fig.', meaning a
transferred sense and figurative usage. One of the examples there
(from 1883) is "The recurring conflicts between Church and State."
Another definition in the same section says "The clashing or variance
of opposed principles, statements, arguments, etc.". This is the sense
I think folks are using when they say conflict can be healthy.

Anyway in my experience the notion of "healthy conflict" is rather
ubiquitous in cohousing and leftist circles. I don't think you will
get very far starting from the premise that conflict cannot possibly
be healthy.


Tom Smyth

Worker-Owner, Sassafras Tech Collective
Specializing in innovative, usable tech for social change · @sassafrastech

Resident, Touchstone Cohousing

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