Strong opinions and politics in The Reef

Hello @reef-conflict,

Last Saturday I wanted to post a short message in the chitchatters chat to ask whether somebody was going to the demonstration on Sunday, because I was going all alone (most friends staying at home because of small children or career-related restrictions) and having some company would have felt comfy and safe.

Eventually I didn’t do it, because I wasn’t sure about how we want to handle opinions and politics in The Reef, and neither were the people I consulted. So maybe it’s a good idea to have a short exchange on this topic?

My first idea was that we should probably keep politics and strong opinions out of The Reef, but now that I have given it some more thought I see things differently.

The thing that side-tracked me a bit is the polarisation around the situation in the Middle East, and the growing taboo to talk about it. When I went to the demonstration I felt like I was going to a controversial event, while it was actually organised by some very credible peace organisations, the rules were very clear (approval of war crimes from either side led to exclusion) and the demands from the organisers seemed to align almost 100% to those of the United Nations. So all in all much less controversial than it actually felt.

Leaving the pros and cons about this horrific conflict aside, it is my hope that in spite of any crazy or controversial thing that may happen, that we can honour our values of diversity and openness. I also hope that we will manage to prioritise nonviolent dialogues over avoiding people to get upset, because I am afraid that keeping strong opinions and politics out of The Reef is going to be close to impossible.

Magnificently crazy shit is mostly going to happen one day, so I hope that as much as possible, we will manage to respect different opinions, even when they trigger intense emotions, and that we will see the value of steering clear from polarisation and belief battles. It is also my hope that, in situations where somebody does get (very) upset about somebody else’s opinion, we can respond with empathy and curiosity, rather than judging people or wanting to convince each other about who is right. In practice this is probably going to be incredibly challenging at times - “whadayamean, it should be forbidden for seahorses to make Michael Jackson moves on Monday afternoon?!?!” - but that’s a price I am willing to pay if this is what it takes to create a space where, in spite of magnificently crazy shit that makes us question everything we believe in, everybody can still feel welcome.

So here are my questions:

  • Would you agree that it is close to impossible to keep strong opinions and politics out of The Reef?

  • Do you think we need some guidelines about opinions and politics, or do you think that just aspiring to our values and NVC should be enough?

  • Would you agree that, at the next occasion, a neutral message along the lines of “I’m going to demonstration XYZ, somebody else going too?” would be safe enough for now?

Happy to get your views, and feel free to tag more people!


Thanks for your thoughtful post :slight_smile:

I would agree that strong opinions and politics will be a part of future conversations amongst the Reef community, but I don’t see any indication up to this point that this would be problematic. We’re all responsible adults with a bit of NVC training, and committed to manifesting a community together. We clearly have a lot of shared values, that form the basis of the Reef project, and undoubtedly different values with regard to other issues. As long as everyone has the intention to be respectful with one another, including with those who have different values, and those who don’t want to have certain value-related discussions, then I’m fairly confident that we’ll be fine moving forward…

I don’t personally think we need guidelines for this, because our shared commitment to compassionate and respectful communication should be enough. Having said that, happy to put some attention to this in the context of Team Conflict Resolution if enough people disagree…

I would have no problem with this message appearing in the Reef Chitchatters group chat :slight_smile:


(tagging myself in! :sweat_smile: )

Thanks for raising this point Lee, it’s very compassionate and thoughtful!

I agree with Chris about not necessarily needing guidelines on this, at least for now. But I think it’s a nice point to raise in term of community health and wellbeing. And that all that was said above makes it very clear and just reinforces what is already in place.
Personnaly I would be in favor of either making this post more visible to all reefling, and/or just share it in the “miscellaneous” part of a plenary. That way we just reiterate our values and the way we want to interact, which is alway good for group cohesion I think.


Hi Lie and Chris and Sarah, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I also felt prompted to share my opinion on this :slight_smile:

  • I think it is very important to be able and allowed to stand up for your own opinions and I think it is inevitable that now and in the future at The Reef there will be conversations where strong opinions are expressed. I don’t find it problematic that there would be certain differences of opinion; in fact, I find it normal.
  • I don’t think guidelines are necessary (at this time), as long as we respect each other’s opinions and that we communicate respectfully with each other.
  • I don’t have any problem at all with the example of the neutral message that could be shared on the Chitchatters group chat.

Have a good day!


This looks like a poll, though I never tried to do a poll with more than one question on Edgeryders. My answers are the same as @mieke’s: Yes; values + NVC should be enough; non-inflamatory message on the chat OK.

Edit: @Lee, it looks like you could make a poll using the “multiple choice” option, and setting the maximum number of choices to the number of questions you ask, in this case 3. I am not doing it to not pre-empt you but it would look like this:


In this way, if someone completely disagree, they vote only option 4. I would vote the first three.

Hi @alberto, I didn’t really have a poll in mind though. My idea was to list a couple of questions that were open enough to open a debate and for people to disagree. But thanks anyway!

Probably wise.

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Thanks Sarah! Would you or Team Community Life be willing to take care of the follow up?

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Ah yes, it’s a good idea!

Just a random idea: maybe we can start a collection of documents that we can call “agreements”, a bit like they are doing it in Heartwood Cohousing?


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