|Consensus Fallbacks||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sherri Rosenthal (enocommonscompuserve.com)|
|Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 19:03:11 -0600|
Mark Bishop wrote: "Undermining the ability to block consensus in turn undermines the consensus process. Is it consensus for the group to decide to vote around the person blocking a consensus that is counter to the agreed principals of the group?" I think this is a very important question. I am very uncomfortable with the process suggested as a work-around for blocked consensus of having a vote to decide "the legitimacy" of the position of the person blocking consensus. I don't think this gets away from stigmatizing the person blocking consensus. Here's an example from my own experience. In my own case, I stated an intention to block what might otherwise have been group consensus to do away with a protective covenant which said operable firearms may not be kept or fired at Eno Commons. This created a lot of anger among some of the people who wanted the covenant changed. If I was forced to formally block consensus, and if a vote had been taken at that time as to whether my reasons were "legitimate," I think there may well have been a majority who would have voted, "illegitimate." The reasons I stated included group values--such as that everyone who joined to that point had done so with the covenant in place, and that I had relied in part on the covenant in deciding to live at Eno Commons. But part of the reason for blocking was also purely personal: that given things that had happened in the past with a member of the group who was pushing for the covenant to be changed, and given my own past history, I wouldn't feel safe. Many of the writings here have presumed that purely personal reasons for blocking consensus are "illegitimate." I don't think that is necessarity true. I find the notion of categorizing "legitimate" vs. "illegitimate" reasons for blocking consensus to be very problematic. I understand and appreciate that there can be dysfunctional people who call attention to themselves by blocking group decisions. If this is a chronic thing with certain members, there should be a way of dealing with it rather than torquing around the entire consensus process. (Rob, Stuart,and other process mavens: ideas?) When someone is blocking consensus who is not known for such chronic group dysfunction, I think it should always be seen as "legitimate," meaning, the person and the group need to engage in dialogue to make sure that everyone is being understood, and to create an inclusive solution, if that is possible. Finally, in less mature cohousing groups, prior to and early after move-in, there is a strong urge to bond, a powerful desire for group cohesion and bonding. This desire for closeness and good feeling can cause members to stifle conflict and "telling it like it is." For many people who long for the emotional comfort of group membership, it's much easier to let concerns slide by than it is to risk the discomforts of blocking what appears to be consensus. I think that particularly when groups are not yet more mature, there may well be only one person who will brave the storm and block consensus. It is very uncomfortable to block consensus. By creating a vote on whether the reason for blocking is "legitimate", we overload a process that already has tremendous disincentives. I think this may defeat the purpose of having the power to block consensus be part of the process. Best wishes for a consensual new year, Sherri Zann Rosenthal Developer and member, Eno Commons Cohousing Durham, NC
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