Following agreements
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 11:07:01 -0600 (MDT)
One of the reasons I asked whether or not anybody on this list did outreach
to non-participants, and it seems the answer is mostly  no, is to set up the
next question.

Are your agreements followed by everyone? Or do agreements sometimes not get

I have run into a dynamic in a few cohousing groups I have worked with,
where people are a bit frustrated because they go ahead and make a decision,
and then those that were not present (and sometimes even those that were)
don't follow it.

For example, A pretty good conflict arose in one community I worked with
about kids cleaning up their messes. I heard several people say: "The
community agreed to the clean up policy" but I also heard that "few parents
with kids were at that meeting". Since the ones who were expected to do the
work were mostly not there, they apparently were not doing the work and  had
issues about the agreement that needed to be resolved. Those that were at
the meeting expected compliance with the decision and apparently had the
attitude of be at the meeting or tough. Add a touch of bad communication,
mix in a grumpy outburst by a non-parent, and the group split into sides
amazingly quickly. The conflict started out as following agreements, but the
unlying issue really ended up being minority decision making that does not
reflect the whole group. This particular cohousing group regularly only gets
30-40% of its members to attend  meetings, which meets the quorum
requirements but apparently isn't enough to make some decisions actually
work. (it was instructive to hear WHY people did not attend meetings)

I have seen groups that operate by consensus that demand every single person
that was not present to sign off on certain kinds of group policy type
decisions. This way, nobody escapes the responsibility just because they
couldn't be in a certain physical space during a specific time. The
passive/aggressive withdrawal behavior is not rewarded by being allowed to
shirk your group responsibilities. If I withdraw because I am mad, I am
still required to participate by signing off on the agreement, and thus the
group has to deal with my issues, ideally sooner than later.

 In my observation, consensus does not seem to work very well in groups
bigger than 20 where less than half of the members participate and everybody
is expected to implement the decision.

Rob Sandelin
Community Works!

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