Re: Why we can’t get it right once and for all
From: Martie Weatherly (
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2021 09:02:53 -0700 (PDT)
I am adding to Sharon's post on why we can't write all the rules of our 
community before move in. I assume the premise for getting all the rules right 
is that we want people who believe as we do about the important things. 

That misses the point that consensus welcomes different points of view. The 
underlying value in being a collaborative community is to honor and respect 
different points of view looking for a solution that is the best one for the 
whole community at that time. 

Therefore it seems to me that trying to get all the rules in place before will 
not work because there will still be differences of opinion that you will have 
to work out. The ability to do that is the heart of consensus. Best to learn 
that before move in and you will have a foundation to resolve differences. 

Martie Weatherly

Health and Wellness Coach
Consensus Coach

-----Original Message-----
>From: Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
>Sent: Mar 28, 2021 5:40 PM
>To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
>Cc: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
>Subject: [C-L]_ Why we can’t get it right once and for all
>A nerdy post for a Sunday but I’ve discovered why I resist the idea that you 
>can define the rules of your community before you commit to move-in, or as one 
>community did, write ALL the rules before too many people get involved. (“Too 
>many” was more than three.)
>Each of us constructs our own reality that changes moment-to-moment with new 
>information. People coming together in a new organization, assembling 
>themselves in a new order, and taking a new direction, will be most successful 
>if they can synchronize their realities—not conform them but make room for 
>them. That can’t be done by setting down rules. Everyone has a different idea 
>about what they are getting into and those ideas change throughout the  
>"How Emotions Are Made” by psycho-neurologist Lisa Barrett presents the 
>findings of current research on how the brain works — how the brain forms 
>mind. It is a groundbreaking explanation of why the classical models of 
>certainty and boundaries don’t work. Why you can’t get it right once and for 
>all, or why the perfect answer hasn’t been worked out in 30 years of 
>cohousing. It doesn’t work because the classical models of organization aren’t 
>Our concepts and expectations (she calls them predictions) about the world are 
>defined by each of our brains and are re-formed each time we bring them to 
>consciousness (and probably even while we don’t). Re-forming means correcting 
>and extending them. Each opinion, response, action, etc means re-assembling 
>stored data—not just consulting our stored already polished responses. The 
>brain starts this assembling and ordering before we are even aware of needing 
>a response. 
>My analogy, but I think it is accurate: Making a decision is like searching a 
>database in which we have stored many terabytes of information in tiny bits 
>and pieces. These bits are corrected and added from second to second because 
>we perceive new information, form a new piece of emotional reality, and have 
>new experiences. With each decision these bits are re-assembled in a new 
>unique way to meet the current unique need or goal.
>Cohousing brings a ton of new experiences that have to be perceived and sorted 
>out. Your brain is likely to come up with different responses are bound to 
>change in every contact with the group, and certainly change over the years of 
>building the community. Concepts of reality and solutions to problems will be 
>re-perceived or re-ordered by each person many, many times. 
>The synchronization of realities is important and takes time. You have to give 
>your brain and everyone else's brain time to do that. A few decisions can be 
>made on the basis of current information but writing them in stone is unlikely 
>to be workable. Exploring and understanding realities is likely to be more 
>fruitful. To the extent that considering rules does that, it can be a good 
>practice. But it needs to be done in a way that enhances bonding, not sets up 
>The book is not an easy read but not impossibly technical. The ideas are 
>discussed in a more precise vocabulary. (It aligns very nicely with Buddhist 
>teachings about the self if you are familiar with those.) 
>It’s the only book I’ve ever read in which I have 3 bookmarks in addition to 
>strategically placed stickies and highlighting. Barrett gives so many examples 
>that I get bored and want to move on so I have skipped whole chapters. Then 
>find I need to go back and read them. It makes more sense when I understand 
>why I need that much detail.
>"How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain" by Lisa Feldman Barrett 
>Ph.D, Neuroscientist in the Psych department at Northeastern.
>Sharon Villines
>affordablecohousing [at]
>Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

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