This past Saturday most of the community participated in an all day training titled “Understanding our Differences” hosted by our former member now neighbor Diana Kardia. We have had weekend workshops before at Great Oak. We have had Laird Schaub out to act in the role of outside facilitator to help us work on difficult issues and improve our problem solving process. Several members of Great Oak, Sunward, and Touchstone are now working with him on a long term facilitation training, out of which have come a few more weekend training session where we have worked difficult community issues.

This weekend’s session promised to be something different, with less focus on working out specific issues or group process and more on more vague issues such as how we are different. I confess that going into this I was pretty skeptical. The whole thing sounded a bit too uncertain for me, with a goal of appreciating how everyone is different. It seemed to me that we all felt fine about differences, so long as our differences aren’t in conflict, and the workshop was missing the point.

As it turned out the workshop was a wonderful experience. The issue of our differences was not so much about differences in opinion or goals, but differences in how we deal with conflict. It was helpful to talk about how a reaction seen as not caring could actually be just one person’s way of processing something difficult.

In the end, the biggest outcome seemed to be that many people are very interested in getting to know each other better and forming closer relationships. I suppose this shouldn’t come as any surprise given that we all chose to live in cohousing. Some of us will be thinking more about where we can find more ways to get to know each other better beyond dinners and meetings.