Arcosanti, Arizona is an experimental community between Flagstaff and Phoenix built by a bunch of volunteers to demonstrate sustainable alternatives to urban sprawl and also the home to a bronze bell foundry.
September 30 to October 3 Arcosanti will be the location for another experiment of sorts as the venue for the “Dealing with Diverse Personalities in Community” retreat facilitated by Jeff Zucker and myself.
“De-escalation”has been in the news lately.
Our retreat will concentrate on how individuals within communities of any ilk can learn some skills about exploring the roots of their own diverse personalities, how to become aware of others’ diverse personality traits and how to de-escalate when personalities clash.
Regardless of your community – be it in your workplace, neighborhood, place of worship – all members have personalities and quirks that are annoying or pleasant with endless traits in between.
At some point in our lives, we’ve likely been annoyed by someone or been the one annoying someone else.
I live in a cohousing community which, I’m finding, is an endless source of personality war stories. I spend a very small part of my time in cohousing mode, but last week, there was a huge blow up over a festering issue.
The unsuspecting target wandered by and offered salutations only to be greeted by one retaliator who had multi-faceted tension building up in him about the ‘inciting incident’ before letting loose with a vulgar verbal barrage. A second retaliator exchanged a few words and walked away.
There were a number of bystanders, a couple intervened from a far, but that didn’t slow him down. Another in the conversation tried to establish a boundary to no avail and left.
While sympathetic to the retaliator’s perspective on the issue, I didn’t gang up on the target, but rather, intervened and sent the target on his way which ended the incident. I later went up and talked to him about what happened, and what I viewed as elements of the perfect storm that triggered it.
This was an eye opener for me. I had heard about community skirmishes, but this is the first time I’d been in the middle of one. The timing and circumstances that brought a particular group of otherwise good people together in one spot, caused this violent outburst and what might have prevented it would be a good case study.
I can see how a routine traffic stop can escalate into gunfire between cop and citizen.
The skirmish ended, but the issues and hard feelings continue to be proverbial elephants in the room, ignored until the next perfect storm brews.
It’s impossible to predict when personality flareups will happen and the Arcosanti retreat will provide participants with three workshops purveyed by hands-on activities, visual and audio presentations about how to be better prepared for community social emergencies. Each participant will also develop an action plan to take with them.
Not only will it be information packed, but the weekend is guaranteed to provide a good time for all!