Client Spotlight: Debby Gelber & the Cornerstone Village Cohousing


HNMCP: I remember when you called the clinic last spring. How did you hear about us?

Debby Gelber: I had been in a community meeting, expressing my frustration that even though the community wanted to work on conflict resolution, there didn’t seem to the skills or time in the group to make it happen. One woman suggested that maybe we needed outside help. I went home, got on the internet, and within five minutes had found your clinic!

HNMCP: What made you decide our clinic would be a good process for Cornerstone? Did you have any experience with alternative dispute resolution before?

DG: The combination of outside expertise plus someone actively working on it would ease the pressure on us, plus give us some accountability to move forward with the process. We had tried dispute resolution amongst ourselves, with varying degrees of success.

HNMCP: What were the attractions of working with students? What concerns did you have?

DG: We liked the energy and information they would bring. We were concerned that it would be a project where they got a lot more out of it then we did. That did NOT turn out to be the case!

HNMCP: What were some of the challenges of the project for Cornerstone.

DG: Talking about conflict is difficult for some of us. The students doing one-on-one confidential interviews helped us move through that more easily.

HNMCP: And what was fun and interesting about it?

DG: Everyone enjoyed working with the students, it created a “buzz” around the community with people asking each other, “did you have your interview yet?”

HNMCP: What tangible results did you see come out of your work with HNMCP?

DG: We got a better sense of the priorities that we needed to take on, which our managing board adopted as their top issues to deals with in the coming year. We also got a very rich document, full of suggestions, training ideas and role-plays that we can use to actively work on conflict areas in the community.

Cornerstone Village Cohousing is a cohousing community in the northwest inner suburbs of Boston, MA, composed of 32 private housing units and common facilities. They are committed to living as a community that promotes sensible sharing of personal, social, and natural resources, provides a safe and stimulating environment for the growth of children and adults, and fosters beneficial relationships with the surrounding community and the world at large.
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