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LGBT elders often re-closet themselves in retirement. Now they are reaching out to each other. - Durham Herald Sun

Cohousing News from Google -


Durham Herald Sun

LGBT elders often re-closet themselves in retirement. Now they are reaching out to each other.
Durham Herald Sun
To avoid the social isolation that the SAGE organization speaks of, they plan to settle permanently in Durham as members of the Village Hearth Cohousing community. Village Hearth Cohousing will be built in northern Durham County for LGBT seniors and ...

Triangle: Cohousing Progress, Center Awards, ENC Gala, AIDS Walk, Patient Training - QNotes

Cohousing News from Google -


QNotes

Triangle: Cohousing Progress, Center Awards, ENC Gala, AIDS Walk, Patient Training
QNotes
To that end, in late August cohousing architect Charles Durrett presented a public talk on cohousing, and in the final workshops, recommended products from door handles to solar panels and floor tiles to HVAC systems were presented to members. Features ...

Atul Gawande, author of 'Being Mortal,' to speak on senior 'villages' as movement turns 15 - Philly.com

Cohousing News from Google -


Philly.com

Atul Gawande, author of 'Being Mortal,' to speak on senior 'villages' as movement turns 15
Philly.com
There's also senior cohousing, in which older adults choose to live in the same house, same building, or same neighborhood and share expenses and services, such as rides to doctors and home repair. Today, there are more than 700 cohousing ...

and more »

News - Maine Public

Cohousing News from Google -


News
Maine Public
Architect and businessman Chuck Durrett and journalist Deirdre Fulton discuss Cohousing, which is a type of collaborative housing wher residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing residents are ...

Roadmapping

Laird's Blog -

One of the bread and butter skills of a good facilitator is getting everyone on the same page. I use the term "roadmapping" to cover this, and there are two ways that facilitators use it to help guide meeting participants: 

a) Providing a clear picture of the intended arc of the meeting (what will be discussed and in what sequence). For the most part this is taken care of with a well-crafted agenda. However, there can be a trap to this: facilitators may fall in love with the elegance of their plan, or they may hold on too tightly to the plan as a life ring in choppy seas.

It works like this: as a facilitation instructor I emphasize the value of being prepared for the anticipated agenda, which includes what questions to pose, in what order, and in what formats. If it turns out that the meeting doesn't flow as anticipated and there need to be adjustments, some facilitators can be reluctant to make them—both because they want the payoff from their planning investment (it looked so good on paper!), and because once they leave the map they may be unsure of their footing and worried that they'll lose their way.

b) The more subtle aspect of roadmapping—and the one I want to mainly focus on in this essay—is regularly reminding the group of where it is in the conversation and what kinds of responses are appropriate. When you take into account how common it is for surprises—both big and little—to arise in the course of a meeting, this in-the-moment skill is crucial to bringing everyone along effectively with the unplanned twists and turns of a dynamic conversation.

This second aspect manifests in three ways:

Off-roading
This is deviating from the planned agenda. While it may not happen often, the group has the right to change its mind about what to talk about whenever it wants to, and sometimes it wants to. (To be clear, in consensus the whole group has to agree to the change; it doesn't happen simply because someone threatens to hold their breath until they get their way.) While this should be a deliberate choice, sometimes things emerge that justify it. For example:

• Working fulminating distress.
• Clarifying a misunderstanding that no one knew existed ahead of time.

• Exploring a question that's suddenly more compelling than the regularly scheduled agenda.

Following the juice
Good facilitators know how to temporarily narrow the focus for tactical reasons. It frequently happens that the topic in hand has several components and comments do not necessarily follow one another, even though all are on topic. When that occurs, facilitators have choices about how to proceed. They can lay back, allow the chaotic flow, and try to pick out themes over time. Or they can look for moments when there is an energetic surge and then restrict responses to what was just said, in the hopes of riding the wave of interest to pin down agreement about that component. Once the surge dissipates (and you've captured all the product you can), the facilitator will widen the focus back to where it had been previously.

This technique can be an effective way to tackle complex topics—aggregating a solution piece by piece as opportunities present themselves. Doing so, however, requires facilitators who are light on their feet, and able to see the possibilities as they open and close in the moment. They need to be able to seize the time and walk away gracefully from their original plan.

In order to get there, facilitators need to be crystal clear about the objectives of the meeting, so that they can constantly sniff out shortcuts as the meeting unfolds.

Not leaving food on the table 
The last benefit to roadmapping is knowing what's possible and being ruthless about harvesting all the agreement that's in the room. By knowing exactly where you are with respect to objectives and concerns, the skilled facilitator knows when to stay with a topic a little longer and when to pull the plug.

—Partly this is keeping a weather eye on the goals for the topic, extracting maximum benefit from the conversation. Where can precious time be used to greatest leverage?

—Partly this is time management: you have to start wrapping up a topic soon enough that loose ends can be identified and tied off without slipping into overtime. 

—Partly this is the magic eye skill of learning to see potential agreement (instead of obsessing about the ways in which people diverge) so that you can accurately sense when to stay with a topic a bit longer and when to pull the plug. Often a skilled facilitator will be the first person to see the possible agreement, simply because they're the one most attuned to looking for it.
• • • A good facilitator should always know where the conversation is supposed to be focused and what the group is trying to accomplish.

Backed by neighborhood, cohousing and circus project up for Madison Plan Commission approval - Madison.com

Cohousing News from Google -


Madison.com

Backed by neighborhood, cohousing and circus project up for Madison Plan Commission approval
Madison.com
The new $8.3 million cohousing space at 2048 Winnebago St. would provide 64,000 square feet with 45 condominium units, 11 of which will be sold to individuals at or below 80 percent of the area median income. The rest would be sold at market rate.

News - Maine Public

Cohousing News from Google -


News
Maine Public
Architect and businessman Chuck Durrett and journalist Deirdre Fulton discuss Cohousing, which is a type of collaborative housing wher residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing residents are ...

Conflict, Bullies, and Introverts

Laird's Blog -

A friend of mine recently posted these comments in response to my blog of Nov 16, 2015, What It Takes for Groups to Be Less Conflicted about Conflict:

Assuming the accuracy of data reporting the relative predominance in cohousing of people who view themselves as introverts, the use of boundary “management” or strengthening/closing in response to bullying (or even just to conflict in general) may be seen more frequently when an introvert feels bullied.  

My thinking is that the initial response called for—engaging or confronting—would require a decision or choice to engage, which the introvert might need to go inside to reflect upon first. Once there, they might determine that inside is safer and less demanding, and not come out again.
Staying in the fire is not easy for anyone, and perhaps even less so when the preferred examination process takes place internally. The decision to return to the fray and engage may be asking introverts to demonstrate a greater degree of courage than they possess, especially when it is not supported by the community.

Let's unpack this, starting with definitions and premises.

o  Almost all groups will contain a mix of extroverts and introverts. For the purpose of this essay I'm defining extroverts as people who are energized by engagement with others; introverts tend to be drained by engagement. Extroverts recharge their batteries by being with others; introverts recover alone. It's not a good or bad thing; it's just different.

o  Plenaries (meetings of the whole) tend to favor extroverts because it's an energizing environment for them. For introverts meetings can be a strain—they often have to pump themselves up to stay focused and engaged, and they're frequently operating outside their comfort zone. 

o  If you add conflict to the mix (emotional distress) the stakes tend to get even higher. While extroverts often raise their energy in the presence of conflict (some even thrive on it), this can be excruciating and feel unsafe for introverts. This tends to make it even harder for introverts to get their oar in the water and keep pulling.

o  Bullying is about acting in a way that's intimidating, making it harder for others to voice their  concerns or interests, or to hang in there when disagreeing with the bully. It is not about the bully's viewpoint; it's about how they express themselves and the ways in which they apply pressure on others to back down or otherwise yield. Bullying succeeds when others believe that exiting the unpleasant dynamic is more important than getting their needs expressed or met.

o  Bullying can show up in a wide range of ways:
sarcasm
raising one's voice
talking fast
interrupting
getting upset 
denigrating other's viewpoints (if you think this is rare, reflect on the dominant style of current political discourse)
woe-is-me manipulation (let me have my way because I'm a victim and your opposition prolongs or exacerbates my suffering)
threatening unpleasant consequences

o  Bullying may be a conscious, tactical choice, or it may be an unconscious style, so ingrained in a person's personality that they engage in it by default. 

o  Bullies may care how their behavior impacts others or they may not. That said, there is an advantage in cooperative culture in that there is a baseline assumption that the group will do its best work only when all relevant viewpoints are expressed and taken into account. Thus, in a cooperative setting there is a greater chance that a bully will be willing to be willing to work with feedback about how their behavior is making it harder for others to speak. The bully may deny that that they intend to intimidate others, but they may be willing to work on changing their behavior once they know it's having that effect.
• • •So what can be done about bullying in cooperative groups, taking into account how hard this dynamic can be for introverts? Here are half a dozen suggestions:

1. Talk about it ahead of time
I think it's essential that group's discuss the phenomenon of bullying behavior and how they want to handle it. (Hint #1: It is an an absolute nightmare to postpone this consideration until you're in the moment. You need to do this pre-need. Hint #2: Note how I phrased this—bullying behavior. Object to the behavior; not the person.)

2. Commit to interrupting bullying wherever it's encountered
This will almost certainly mean authorizing facilitators to step in when they believe bullying is occurring—whether the intimidation was intended or not isn't the point. If bullying is allowed to happen unchecked, things will not magically get better.

Note how nuanced this can be. Suppose someone in the group is intimidated by loud voices and feels bullied by a member of the group who is frequently passionate in their statements. How much does the group want to protect the person who feels intimidated and how much does it want to support each member having access to their natural style? Where is the balance point?

3. Have agreements about how you'll work with emotional reactivity and develop the skills to deliver the support you commit to providing
You have to anticipate that when bullying surfaces that some of the time reactivity will be part of the mix. It will be paralyzing if there is no confidence in the group's ability to compassionately and accurately work the moment—be it the bully's distress, other's distress, or both.

4. Introverts and extroverts are going to have to make peace with one another
You cannot expect everyone else to adapt to you. For extroverts this translates into being sensitive to how your style can make life challenging for others. For introverts it means there has to be room at the table for the passionate and the boisterous, just as much as for the quiet and contemplative. You don't have to pretend to be something you're not, yet group culture is a mixed salad, not a homogeneous stew.

5. Offer a mix of formats, making it easier for introverts to contribute or to express distress
Take time to canvass your membership to get a sense of what will help people feel safe and that their contributions are welcome. Don't guess what people want; ask. 

What am I talking about? Small group breakouts, individual writing, talking sticks, and guided visualizations are techniques that offer a more deliberate pace and a less chaotic on-ramp. Intermix them with the up-tempo raucousness of brainstorms and open discussions.

6. Make sure that the right to be heard is joined at the hip to the responsibility to hear and work constructively with the views of others
When bullies are driving an agenda they are all too often insisting on their right, while sidestepping their responsibility. Make sure that that doesn't happen. First help them be heard, then slow things down to make sure that there's air time for other perspectives. After all, introverts are not stupider; they're just quieter.

50 Years Later

Laird's Blog -

Yesterday I took a train to Chicago and was met in Union Station by Jeff Stewart and Jan-Erik Damber. 

Though I had not seen either of them since 1967—the year I'd graduated from high school (we three were seniors together at Lyon Township in La Grange IL), I had no trouble picking them out by the Amtrak information kiosk in the main waiting room.

When I first met Janne he was an AFS student from Sweden. Today he's a (nearly) retired urologist living in Göteberg (the second largest city in Sweden, on the shores of the North Sea). Janne lived with Jeff's family during the 1966-67 school year, and my brother (Guy) and I visited the Damber family in Sweden for a few days toward the end of a nine-week European odyssey that took us to Ireland, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden. Though many of the details of that trip have faded over the years, I recall that our stay with the Dambers was the highlight of the trip, as it was the only time we were not in a hotel, hostel, or pensione.

The most amazing part of yesterday's five-hour visit (over brie, wine and hamburgers) was the absence of strain or awkwardness. It was just interesting people sharing stories. In addition to the three wise guys, our social complement was rounded out by Jeff's wife, Steffie, and Janne's partner, Christina. The conversation flowed as easily as the wine, as we pleasurably bounced around among high school memories, catching each other up on what had unfolded in each other's lives over the course of the last five decades, commentary on the insanity of American politics, and speculation about the prospects of The Donald and Kim Jong-un—two world leaders with the ego management and temperament of oversexed cockerels—inadvertently starting a nuclear war as they posture for cameras, trade taunts, and otherwise play with matches.

Though I am foregoing the social chaos that would characterize my high school class' 50th reunion this weekend (which is why Janne and Christina are in town), it was lovely reminiscing and gradually revealing to one another the pearls of wisdom we have each carefully strung together over a lifetime of living. A leisurely dinner party for five in an Oak Park apartment, after all, offers completely different prospects than a cattle call of 300+ milling about in an antiseptic ballroom.

Once again I am reminded of why it is good to have friends, and why it is important to take the time to enjoy them.

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