Re: Policies for dealing with harassment/violence?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2020 09:56:08 -0700 (PDT)
On Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 1:00 PM Sky Blue <peacewithinchaos [at]> wrote:

> The cohousing community I'm living in is looking for examples of policies
> or procedures for dealing with interactions between neighbors where there
> is harassment and/or violence, and where mediation has not worked or is not
> an option. Does anyone have anything written up that you can share?

Others have addressed better than I could all the personal and process stuff 
you might try. And I agree with Liz about calling the police on the threat of 
violence. Even the threat. There is a mythology that community will resolve 
everything. It won’t —particularly for people who sound as if they are not 
really a part of the community now. And the community is wringing its hands.

Just two other points:

1. Don’t expect the two people to work this out themselves. If they coulda, 
they woulda. 
They need third party intervention. A process person like Karen — we have a lot 
of them who understand cohousing. Or the police or a lawyer. I don’t know what 
kind of mediation failed but some mediators are pretty cut and dried so they 
might not have touch the core of this dispute.

There are several long posts in the archives about communities with mentally 
ill people that a community has tried to support for years but the situation 
kept going downhill to the point it was a danger to the children in the 
community. Those posts might help you understand why you need a professional to 
deal with this. Cohousing is about community and sharing. It can replace 
professional treatment.

2. Look at your systems and see what is allowing this to happen. How did 
community expectations and vagueness contribute to the conflict, and may be 
still supporting it. Context is important and the context includes assumptions 
— or conflicting assumptions.

You didn’t describe the subject of the dispute but I’ll explain what I mean 
about systems/decisions that cause conflict and should never have been adopted. 
Cohousing designers make every effort to avoid looking and acting like a 
commercial condo. On of the things that makes a condo l look like a condo is 
everyone has the same limited common elements. Everyone has one balcony or 
patio, or one porch. Or one yard the same size as others. Ugh. It’s ugly and 
deadly from the get go. But I’ve learned that there is a reason for this. 

Everyone owns a piece of the real estate and pays fees based on how much they 
own. I’ve been unable to find a theory or philosophy about what percentages are 
recommended. But if the percentages do not “match” the variation in the private 
property of each unit owner, that means some can have more and pay less if the 
monthly payment is based on that percentage.

Fixing this later is extremely hard. But the problem is the system we started 
with. Conflict between members is to be expected until we have a new system. 

Susan Rice said something on MSNBC last week that I think is very important in 
cohousing — "Culture eats policy for lunch every time.” 

It isn’t about making rules. It’s about building a community that understands 
each member and makes room for them.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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