Conflict Resolution in Our Community

Process 2003-01-08

Summary:

"GO Process was tasked to create a Conflict Transformation process. This is the attempt to fulfill that."

Background:

Issue: Disagreements and other disharmonies are a natural consequence of living in community. This proposal offers strategies for community awareness and education regarding conflict, and a resource for assisting with conflict resolution.

Information: Conflict, in all its forms, may occur at three levels in an intentional community: in the community as a whole; among two or more households; or within a single household. Typically evidenced in the inability to make a collective decision, community-wide conflict has the most wide- ranging consequences for communal life. Our community has dealt with the possibility of our not being able to reach consensus on a vital issue; should this occur, we would seek outside facilitation/mediation to help us reach an agreeable decision. This process is already in place.

The intermediate form of dissension is when two or more households have a disagreement that cannot be resolved informally, and the disagreement has no implications for the community. With community education about resolving conflicts, prepared by a committee that will both set up informal procedures for helping to resolve conflict, and provide training in conflict resolution for our community, each of us will have the resources and training to deal with all types of conflict in our community.

Proposal:

Proposal: The GO community in affirming this proposal confirms the expectation that living in cohousing means a willingness to engage in clear communication, and to take responsibility for resolving conflict.

To this end, small committee (two-six people) composed of those who have the training, education, or experiences that provide skills in conflict resolution would be formed. This Conflict Resolution Committee�s (CRC) task will be to meet to review the skills available, to set up processes for dealing with conflict, and to educate the community about conflict and the ways to deal responsibly with it. The processes that are developed would be presented to the community for its approval.

The CRC will serve as a community resource, and will maintain complete confidentiality regarding all aspects of their work, with the exception of issues that affect the community. This committee may identify conflicts that have implications beyond the conflict at hand, that is, conflicts that have community impact. Should a conflict be so identified, the CRC will notify the community, and may assist in working with the community under the auspices of the community conflict resolution process.

The CRC will be available to any community member for advice and guidance. The CRC may agree to mediate disputes between individuals (or households) that are not otherwise resolved by the parties involved. Mediation is never binding, and is only done at the request of the parties in conflict.
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Pros: We utilize the expertise and experiences of those in the community to resolve and transform conflict. We avoid the need of hiring outside resources except in intractable situations.

Cons: Certain types of conflict will need resources outside of the community.

Comments:

Discussed in minutes from 10/2/2002, 10/21/2002, 12/16/2002, and 1/8/2003 (decision)

Process Comments:

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