Re: Contentious issues?
From: Martie Weatherly (
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 2020 09:22:46 -0700 (PDT)
I agree with Muriel that you cannot predict what issues will be contentious. 
What your community has to learn and what is a critical part of consensus 
decision making, is how to welcome conflict as a way of bringing up different 
points of view and creatively looking for ways to work together. The one thing 
you cannot allow in your group is someone who is nonnegotiably negative, with 
their personal point of view more important to them than what is best for the 
group. Consensus works very well when the group deals with each concern at a 
time and works together to come up with the best solution that everyone can 
align on (different from unanimity). We have a backup vote in our bylaws which 
we then took out of our Pathway to Consensus. In 20 years we have had 7 blocks, 
all resolved because we had no back door and had to listen to each other until 
we came up with a solution that worked for all. So welcome those contentious 
issues! That is where the creativity is going to come!

Martie Weatherly
Liberty Village
Frederick MD

-----Original Message-----
>From: Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]>
>Sent: Sep 15, 2020 9:57 AM
>To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
>Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Contentious issues?
> Al, I'm not sure how helpful it would be to know the details of
>communities' most surprisingly contentious issues since that depends on so
>many variables. I think the more significant question you're asking is (I
>will restate it as) "How did you deal with it?"
>We've had different hot-button issues over our 18 years in residence and
>the previous forming years. We brought in super-facilitator Laird Schaub at
>least twice for weekend repair jobs when our metaphorical cohousing car
>wasn't running right and was making odd noises. Obviously, since the same
>part of the engine had to be repaired twice (to keep up my weird metaphor),
>we weren't always the best at following his maintenance advice. It's hard
>to change decades of hard-wiring on how to handle conflict, even with good
>intentions all around.
>My takeaway is that you must not ignore conflictual issues or people in
>hopes they will go away. The people who appear to be at the heart of the
>conflict may finally give up and literally or emotionally go away, but the
>community will not have improved its ability to handle such problems when
>they inevitably arise again in another form. (Because people.) I think it's
>vital to bring everyone together, acknowledge very specifically what people
>are upset about, and talk it through.
>There's a lot of material you can read about this, expressed better than I
>can, but the basic thing is to deal directly with your tough issues while
>reminding yourselves of your common values and why you wanted to live in
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