Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Home Truth Learned in a Community Circle

I know I tend to present a rather sunny picture of how we all get along here, but to be honest, it isn't always great.

Sometimes life at Pacific Gardens is not so pacific - in fact, it can get downright mean and miserable. Lately the most miserable bit has been our meetings.

They've started late, been cancelled at the last minute, and gone over time.  Agendas have come out late, or been hijacked.

People have shouted at each other, belittled others (ouch!), repeatedly blocked resolution of issues, and used intimidation to get their own way.

It's pretty distressing for those of us who believe in consensus and cooperation.  So we're trying to get help from facilitators in other cohousing communities.

But in the meantime, Bill called for a Community Circle to talk about meetings and participation.  A meeting to talk about meetings, you ask - why would you do that?

Because Community Circles are different.  They're held together by what is known as the four intentions.  The first is listening from the heart.

No judging, just accepting and seeking understanding as each person speaks their own truth in the circle, giving them your full attention.

The second is speaking from the heart, telling your own story, using "I" statements, if you choose words. Sometimes silence says what you really feel.

The third is being lean of speech.  No need to repeat what others say. This is one intention that several members of our group have difficulties with!

The final intention is spontaneity.  Don't plan what you're going to say in response to what someone else is saying. Just speak from the heart and all will be well.

So, each speaker holding an eagle feather, we talked about what bothered us about the meetings.  People don't listen. They keep blocking. There's power struggles.

Round the feather went, and then it came to David Li. Still learning to speak English, he struggled to express himself, but each time he held the feather, the message was the same.

He loved this place.  It was warm, like a family.  It was so beautiful, with the gardens, and the pond, and the wild ducks, and the deer.  He was happy to live here.

David gave us a home truth that evening. Assume best intent, and you will be happy. And it made me think, maybe that was the problem with our meetings.

We went into them from a negative place.  Perhaps all the negative events in the larger world were affecting our collective psyches, and we couldn't see what we had here.

But David could see it, and in the way of the circle, he gave that gift to us. And that gives me hope that we will get through this storm, as we have others.


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