Working Constructively with Conflict in Community

5-Week Online Course | Resuming in 2022

Conflict is inevitable in any group, but there are tools and techniques that can support you and your members in moving through it with as much grace as possible and come out the other side (hopefully) stronger than before. Course instructor, Laird Schaub will cover what conflict represents, why work on it in the dynamic moment, why work on it as a group, how to work with it, why work on it unilaterally, and the options people have when they’re in reaction. 

Working Constructively with Conflict in Community course image

Conflict happens. Learn how to deal with it so your community can thrive when things get tough.

Failure to prepare for conflict is one of the big reasons intentional communities struggle and eventually fail. Most groups do not explicitly discuss how they want to work with reactivity and the expression of strong feelings. Lacking a common understanding about how to handle these moments, most groups are paralyzed by their occurrence and bad things happen (work gets stopped, feelings get suppressed, fights break out, and relationships are damaged). It’s not pretty. But there is no reason for your group to breakdown in the face of conflict. Get prepared and skilled up to handle whatever is coming your way through this online course with Laird Schaub.

Note: Given that feelings are part of our heritage as humans, this course is predicated on the idea that it’s better to work explicitly with emotions than to attempt to box them out of our meetings and hope for the best. In a virtual setting, we’ll be practicing how to work constructively with strong emotions.  

Key Course Outcomes

  • The inevitability of conflict
  • What happens when people get upset (for both the individual and those around them)
  • Understanding our options when upset
  • A field-tested method for recognizing and defusing distress
  • Navigating the intersection of conflict and safety
  • Why it’s essential to attend to distress before problem solving
  • The power of the group learning to not be reactive to reactivity
  • The importance of having an agreed method for engaging with strong feelings
  • The importance of having the in-house skill needed to use your agreed method effectively
  • How to set up an effective team to support people working through interpersonal tensions
  • How to discern whether to work conflict in plenary

Meet Your Instructor

Working Constructively with Conflict in Community course instructor, Laird Schaub

Laird Schaub

Laird’s specialty is up-tempo inclusive meetings that engage the full range of human input, teaching groups to work creatively with conflict and diversity—all the while being ruthless about capturing as much product as possible. Laird lived for four decades at Sandhill Farm, an income-sharing rural community that he helped found. He also helped found the Foundation for Intentional Community, where he served as the main administrator for 28 years. In 1987 he created a self-insurance fund for healthcare among income-sharing communities called PEACH (Preservation of Equity Accessible for Community Health) that he ran for 22 years. In addition to his expertise in community living, he’s parlayed his passion for good process into a consulting business focused on cooperative group dynamics, styled CANBRIDGE (Consensus And Network Building for Resolving Impasse and Developing Group Effectiveness), since 1987.

The Online Course Experience

Live Interactive Sessions

Each week will feature a 2-hour live class with the course instructor so you can learn in a dynamic setting and get your questions answered directly. Get ready for interactive presentations, group discussion, small cohort activities and personalized support. Plus, each week there will be bonus sessions with guest speakers and panelists.

Journey with a Cohort

Join participants from around the world who are embarking on creating community for better living and more connection. You’ll have opportunities to network with like-minds and develop a network of support to carry your community project forward. Welcome to your global community of communities.

Deep Learning

Participants will have access to a private online space to connect with the instructor and other students through a discussion forum. Each week new learning materials will be uploaded to the space, including videos, worksheets and articles. You’ll be able to watch previously recorded sessions and stay on track with your weekly assignments.

Loved by Community Builders

Laird is a treasure. Our community, Heartwood Cohousing in southwest Colorado, has hired him to lead several of our weekend retreats. Some of those retreats have been to simply deepen community connections, while others have been to resolve contentious community issues. In all cases, Laird has done a great job for us. With his decades of experience, his keen intellect, and his deep compassion, Laird is a true master of community communications, conflict resolution, and decision making. We’ve had many facilitators work with our community and I’ve encountered many at cohousing conferences and community events. Laird is the best I’ve met.

– Mac Thomson

Laird is an amazing facilitator and an excellent teacher. The skills he shares with his students are incredibly valuable to any community and to society as a whole. I appreciate that Laird grounds his work in a broader social analysis—that we as a society need to get much better at hearing each other, cooperating, and making hard decisions without domination. He has developed a thorough and effective system for guiding groups through a variety of challenging situations. It is thrilling to learn how to practice it. And it pays dividends not only within the community but in other areas of one’s life. I have used skills I learned from Laird at work and in family situations as well. Learning from Laird has been a life changing experience.

– Tom Smyth

Laird’s knowledge, wisdom, and insight about group dynamics and cooperative culture taught me, above all, how to be a functional member in a cooperative setting. The clarity and humor of his personal delivery style made this learning an enjoyable experience for me.

I took his classes multiple times since 2008 and continue learning from him today. The way I participate in community meetings changed profoundly as I acquired potent tools for self-awareness, self-development, and refinement of my communications skills and thinking patterns. Having been exposed to his work enough, I am now able to see more deeply into the subtleties of the facilitation skills he teaches and the common quicksand holes that groups tend to fall in when trying to work together. With Laird’s guidance, I went from being clueless about how to make cooperation work to being competent to offer good quality facilitation services to groups I’m not familiar with.

– María Silvia

There are few people with the sheer breadth and depth of experience as Laird has.  He is sharp, challenging, provocative, insightful.  He deeply cares about promoting cooperative culture in communities and in the world.  And it shows.  I would recommend his classes to anyone and everyone.

Mary Bennett

Course Schedule

You will also have access to three live Bonus Sessions on relevant topics with guest speakers and facilitators scheduled at various times throughout the weeks. Please view the calendar below. All classes and Bonus Session recordings are viewable afterwards.

Sample Bonus Session Topics:

  • Deepening Nonviolent Communication
  • Handling Group Power Dynamics
  • Learning from Conflict with Restorative Systems
  • Circle Work: Creating Calm in the Middle of Chaos
  • Sharing Power: Designing for Radical Cooperation

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Need financial support to attend a course?

Apply for a scholarship. Those with low-income and from marginalized groups are encouraged to apply. FIC is committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.