Re: Speaking out
From: Gretchen Westlight (
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 00:10:14 -0700 (MST)
When Don and I started coming to Cascadia meetings (3 years ago!), folks
apologized after every meeting that there had been so much conflict.  We
didn't think it was that big of a deal.  (And indeed, the group has
subsequently had *much* more conflicted meetings, not to mention the ones
where process went out the window.)  It was IMPERATIVE to us to see how
the group handled conflict.  We knew it would inevitably arise, and
weren't interested in a group where it was glossed over, or people bullied
each other, or a few people dominated the rest of the group, or any of the
other myriad ways that conflict can be mishandled.  Been there, done that,
have no patience for it anymore.

Good facilitators make all the difference in handling unexpected conflicts
*and* explaining things to guests.  How guests are included in the
meetings can also help their sense of process -- at Cascadia, we ask that
guests hold their questions and comments until just before break and just
before closing, but we make sure they get air time and we follow up on the
details.  We've had a few guests who were very perceptive and helpful (one
woman who could see our "forest" on a day when we were focussed on a
single leaf of a tree stands out in my mind, 2-1/2 years later), even if
they never returned.

Gretchen Westlight
Cascadia Commons
Portland, Oregon, USA

Where work is getting done, even if construction hasn't officially started
yet. :-)  And the existing duplexes look so much *nicer* without the

On Tue, 22 Feb 2000, Kay Argyle wrote:

> Our group had a particularly tense meeting during the building phase, on a
> proposal that turned out to be a lot more controversial than anticipated
> (we've had some awful meetings, but that would make my top-ten worst list).
>   It was the first meeting for a young couple investigating cohousing. 
> Afterwards I ruefully said, "Well, _they_ won't be back, not after _that_
> meeting."  We were totally floored when they showed up at the next meeting.
>  Months later I told the woman (now a valued neighbor) about our
> astonishment, and she told me that they had been very impressed by the way
> the group handled the differences of opinion and strong emotions at that
> meeting.  It had reassured them, not scared them away.
> Kay Argyle
> Wasatch Commons
  • Speaking out Lydia & Ray Ducharme, February 15 2000
    • Re: Speaking out Kay Argyle, February 22 2000
    • Re: Speaking out Gretchen Westlight, February 22 2000

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