RE: "Weirdos"
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 21:29:38 -0700 (MST)
Well, somebody once told me: "anybody that does this community thing must be
some kind of weirdo." So there you are, we are ALL a bunch of weirdos.

How does one define weirdo? Almost every group I have encountered has at
least one "weirdo" in their midst. This might be the person that makes
meetings difficult because they bring up unmentionable or unpopular views,
they ask difficult questions, make demands, and even block consensus.

I have been that weirdo in my group a few times, its a role people who are
value driven often play in groups.

I met a woman once, who was from a community where they gave very direct
feedback all the time. It was very interesting to watch how people reacted
to her. I thought she was brillant and interesting, others thought she was a
class one weirdo.

As you live together you will discover the foilables and even dysfunctions
of your neighbors, and they will equally discover yours. Since you will have
lots of modelling opportunities for things like spousal relationship issues
and parenting you will have perhaps your first real opportunity to closely
observe others and compare your life to how others live. This can be

 At Sharingwood we had one divorce because a woman came to learn from the
other couples around her, that relationships can be different than what she
knew from her own. You will learn that about parenting and also about pet
ownership. Sometimes parents do not get real honest feedback about their
kids behavior. The teachers and schools usually don't, your parents and
child care giver won't. Same thing about your dog. You have potential to get
real honest, direct feedback, sometimes negative, sometimes angry. (and also
most times loving and gentle). Very few people ever get feedback about their
dog, and this can move into some nice conflicts if you don't know how to
give and receive feedback well.

Living in a group of people like this is a grand experiment with no
guidebooks, and most people have no experience doing so. Remember, most
people don't have the skills they need to accomplish collaborative living
very effectively, so you all kind of just stumble along, tripping over the
roots and stones now and then, learning the path as you create it.

This makes YOU a weirdo my friends. Normal people in America anyway, don't
do these things.

Also you can be assured, the public light shines very brightly in
collaborative groups like this. Secrets don't last long. People who hurt
others emotionally or physcially depend on anominity and secret. They can
not live in community very easily because of this and so they usually don't
stay around.

However you will never really know about another humans dysfunction until
they display it. That is the reality of living in connection with others,
you become vulnerable to dysfunction. At Sharingwood once we had a couple
that were very accomplished liars who took several thousands of dollars from
a couple of members. We are still untangling some of their fictions years
after they have left.

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communities Association
Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

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