Re: Hiring outside facilitators/professionals
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 2020 04:06:05 -0700 (PDT)
“Externally”, over the 13+ years I’ve lived here, we’ve had a variety of 
“outside” facilitators and trainers come and go.  I usually attend their 
events, and their success has definitely been a mixed bag.  In most cases, to 
me anyway, success or failure seems more related to the dynamics of the 
specific controversy than to the skill of the facilitator.

“Internally”, we do maintain a Conflict Administration Team (CAT).  The 
volunteers on this Team are well-intentioned and competent.  But dealing with 
interpersonal conflict is just plain painful, and neither CAT volunteers nor 
conflicted residents are eager to meet, explore and resolve.  Some or much of 
our membership seems to believe that preservation of cordial relationships 
benefits from sweeping conflicts under the rug.  Sometimes, some parties in 
conflict simply refuse to be available for conflict resolution.

Let’s keep clear the distinction between disagreements and conflicts.  All 
communities have disagreements, usually frequently:  Some people think common 
meals should always be vegetarian, and others do not agree.  The normal 
processes of dialog and consensus will deliver an answer or compromise — after 
which, life goes on, and everyone is still friends.  No special facilitation 
      Conflicts, on the other hand, have an emotional charge, put personal 
identity and social standing at risk, and evolve into a dynamic where the 
contestants see each other as “enemies” who must be “defeated”.  I think most 
cohousing has a lot of trouble dealing with real conflict.  I know Cornerstone 
does.  Special facilitation may or may not work.  Be slow to blame the 

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

> On Oct 15, 2020, at 2:44 PM, Therese Kunzi-Clark <studiotkc [at]> 
> wrote:
> I would like to get some information on how other Cohousing Communities
> deal with difficult issues or conflicts that need to be discussed with the
> whole community.
> 1. Do you deal with it internally or do you hire an outside
> facilitator/professional.
> 2.How often and for what kind of issues or help do you hire outside
> facilitators?
> 3. If you deal with it internally, can you recommend "best practices"
> Thank you for your input.
> Therese Kunzi-Clark
> Winslow Cohousing
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