Re: Division Question
From: Mac Thomson (
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2020 07:12:52 -0700 (PDT)
Karen may be biased, but I think her advice is golden.

I would encourage any forming cohousing group to spend more time learning and 
practicing interpersonal communication and decision making skills than they 
send on design decisions. 

It’s not usually that way in my experience. It seems that most forming groups 
spend an inordinate amount of time on site design, common house design, and 
private home design. Leave that to the professionals (assuming you hire 
professionals with lots of cohousing experience) and instead work on the skills 
that will strengthen your community fabric.

Mac Thomson

Heartwood Cohousing
Southwest Colorado

"Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal."
       - E. Joseph Cossman

> On Aug 2, 2020, at 10:22 AM, Karen Gimnig <gimnig [at]> wrote:
> Carol,
> 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
> biased.
> In Community,
> Karen Gimnig
> Professional Facilitator
> 678-705-9007
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