Re: Division Question
From: Karen Gimnig (
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2020 09:22:38 -0700 (PDT)

It's a really good question.  I think conflict comes from lots of thing,
but at it's root, it happens because we're trying to do a new thing and we
aren't good at it yet. Many of the key components of cohousing are
specifically designed to create connection between neighbors - consensus,
shared property, self management, community design. I believe in those
things, in that I think they really can build community when they are done
well.  What causes the division is it is really rare for people who grew up
in North America to know how to do them. There are foundational skills
around communication and curiosity, and culture shifts that are needed.
Very few communities invest as much as I would recommend in building that
foundation and the result is the kind of conflict you are describing.  Or
to say it another way, the result is that consensus and shared property and
such don't work very well, and since folks lack that skills to make it work
better, they apply the skills that have worked very well for them in school
and work and our generally competitive culture which makes things worse.

I believe this is a case where the best solution is prevention. I recommend
that groups hire a process consultant very early on in formation, before
it's obvious that you need one. If things go well, you'll never know how
much pain you avoided by learning how to do things well from the start.
Think of it as education and insurance.  It won't prevent conflict,
conflict happens. What a good process consultant does is prepare you and
support you in working through conflict productively so that at the end of
it you are a stronger and more connected community than you were at the
beginning, and you don't end up with division.

Note: This is self serving advice as I work as a process consultant. Being
with communities in that way is my very favorite thing to do, so maybe I'm

In Community,
Karen Gimnig
Professional Facilitator

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