We usually talk about community values after something goes wrong. Often the initial issue is glaring, a bad actor, an abusive situation, but the follow up is where things either get messy or where we grow as a community. How did the group respond? Was there transparency? Was there a clear understanding of the tensions at play and a balanced approach to weighing the tradeoffs inherent in any response?

When situations have no good solution it's tempting to look at the biggest tension and try to ease it. Any response to a complicated situation necessarily compromises. Introduce more than one tension pulling in different directions and easing the slack on one will tighten another.

The best we can do is act according to values rather than reacting to tensions. The tension sets the stage, but the values introduce the axis of our actions. If we don't have clear values going in we often learn pretty quickly that the proposals of others don't align with ours. But these are opportunities to clarify something deeper. What do we stand for? How do we show up for one another? Who decides?

They're not necessarily fun conversations to have on your average Tuesday, but next time things get heated, rather than laboring through to yet another unclear solution, it might be better to ask how you can build conversations around values into your process for the future.