Re: looking for alternatives to long email conversations
From: Patricia Lautner (
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2020 08:46:13 -0800 (PST)
First, congrats Bay State for breaking ground!  JPCohousing on the other
side of the Orange Line (metro), can't wait to visit.  It's so exciting!

It's hard to give up the convenience of 'anytime, anywhere' email when you
are in rapid decisions making mode.  This is a unique time, during
development, where the need for speed is actually real.  You guys have so
much experience, you've gone through so much already, for years!  So I'm
not going to tell you to only talk face-to-face (or via web). The reality
is, you need to be very rapid sometimes and email works for almost everyone.

Suggestion:  Do you have the luxury of someone who could serve as the
moderator to the emails?  For example: the moderator could ask for opinions
on a given topic for let's say a 24 hour period.  The emails go to the
moderator only.  Then, moderator creates a  grid or survey with the various
opinions and sends out for response.  The moderator would filter the
emotions, or rate emotions on a scale of 1-5 for example, but just
communicate the facts/opinions without the noise.  It would need to be
someone who is very trusted (and the group would need to forgive mistakes)
but this could help.

Another suggestion:  During development, we used preambles in our emails.
READ ONLY, RESPONSE NEEDED, EMOTION DUMP, etc.  Pick a few preambles and
ask members to include in the subject line.

I am so glad every time I think about your group and how much you have
accomplished.  I think you will get through this too, good luck!

Jamaica Plain Cohousing - Boston

On Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 10:45 AM Tom @ Gather <info [at]> wrote:

> Discourse is a good open source alternative to email. It also has lots of
> ways to interact via email for those who prefer that medium.
> You can set one up here for $20/mo.
> We're working on Gather integration with Discourse also. But it will be
> later this year before that is ready. But when it is, you should be able to
> migrate your Discourse forum into Gather.
> On Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 8:38 AM Marcia Zuckerman via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > I’m at Bay State Commons (Malden, Mass).  We just broke ground, and are
> > open to new members, but that’s not why I’m writing.
> >
> > We currently have extended conversations by e-mail to discuss issues
> > around planning the building, which sometimes become contentious or
> > high-volume. It's good that we have a way to hear the range of opinions
> and
> > brainstorm solutions outside of our twice-a-month consensus plenary
> > meetings.  But the email discussions also have disadvantages, such as:
> >
> > - Some members are overwhelmed at the volume
> > - Conversations can provoke polarization via perhaps-unintentionally
> > inflammatory statements, which aren't smoothed over as readily as with
> > in-person conversations
> > - Members with more free time on their hands have an outsized
> contribution
> > that might not reflect the group's overall sentiment, yet may color the
> > perception of what the "consensus" is
> > - It can be very confusing to track where the conversation is if it
> splits
> > into multiple threads
> > - Members feel stressed by the pressure to keep up, and feel they can't
> > step away in case their silence is equated with agreement with whatever
> is
> > being said
> >
> > We’re thinking about other options.  We’re a mix of techies and
> > technophobes; some people could set up Slack channels, but others would
> > likely avoid discussions there because chat can feel even more
> > urgent/stressful, or because they don't understand it.
> >
> > Most people in the group do okay with Google docs and spreadsheets, so
> > we're thinking about that, as well as surveys or forums. Have people
> found
> > good ways to have discussions through Google docs? What other methods do
> > people use?
> >
> > Thanks,
> > Marcia Zuckerman
> > Communications Committee
> > <>
> > _________________________________________________________________
> > Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
> Tom for the Gather Team
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

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