Conflict Resolution [was: divorce in cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 08:13:14 -0800 (PST)
On Feb 12, 2014, at 9:28 AM, Joanie Connors <jvcphd [at]> wrote:

> You can't prevent conflict, but with good policies and practices, you can
> make it growthful so that your community grows stronger.

I like "growthful". One problem in resolving conflicts is having someone who 
can facilitate this process. A community is as strong as its resources, in 
cohousing, its people resources. This can be an intensive job if the community 
has not developed common assumptions about approaching conflict.

Another poster asked if we have a conflict resolution policy at Takoma Village. 
No we don't and it's a problem. We have many members who are conflict averse 
they build. We have not had huge clashes like some communities that rendered 
them seriously divided. We do have several people who take personal initiative 
to do conflict resolution on a case by case basis. Ann Zabaldo is one of them 
and she is very good at it. But there is no expectation, however, that any of 
them are responsible for conflict resolution.

Repeating previous discussions:

1. Expecting those involved in the conflict to work it out themselves is 
usually unworkable. "If they coulda, they woulda."

2. Conflicts are more likely to be the result of unclear community 
expectations, not personal actions. One or more of the people that others 
perceive as being in conflict may not perceive themselves in that way at all. 
The conflict arises because others disagree with the actions of others.

3. The best conflict resolution process I have seen work is the formation of a 
conflict resolution team for each conflict. The parties who identify a conflict 
choose one member to represent them. Those chosen then choose one person whom 
they find would be helpful to them. That means there will be at least 3 people 
on the team, which each have chosen a person to express their 
needs/opinions/clarifications. The conflict resolution team decides how to 

Rules about face-to-face, binding mediation, the NVC process, etc. are usually 
not applicable to all situations. It's better for the team to address each 
conflict as appropriate and to consult other experts or people who might help 
as appropriate.

Anyone can initiate this process.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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