the importance of clearly defined process & power (was Re: Handling disputes in cohousing)
From: Ed Stauff (
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 20:32:01 -0700 (MST)
I came into this thread a bit late, but I just read (quoted in someone 
else's message) George S. Krasle's description of what was, for him, a 
terrible experience at Songaia.  There are always at least two sides to 
any issue, so without having heard the other side I won't presume to pass 
judgement.  However, his experience resonates with a bad experience of my 
own, and prompts me to say the following:

There is *NOTHING* more important in a new cohousing group than to get its 
decision-making process and power structure established, clearly and in 
writing, as early as possible, and agreed upon by all the members.  
Without this critical element, any decisions that are made have no 
foundation to support them and give them validity.  If any reasonable form 
of consensus is to be used, then the decision-making process and structure 
must be made reasonably secure against a power-grab by a small minority of 
the members.  For example, a small executive or steering committee must 
not have the power to change the decision-making process without the 
consent of the entire membership.  I call this "trust based on checks and 
balances".  Once I know that the rules we are agreeing to abide by 
effectively prevent abuse of power, then I'm free to act from a position 
of trust.

It is, of course, equally important that every member (and every 
prospective member!) understand the decision-making process and power 

-- Ed

| Edward Stauff | Software engineer, bibliophile, | "Specialization  |
| ed [at] | musician, lexophile, cohouser,  | is for insects." |
| Fitchburg, MA | ferroequinologist, woodworker,  | -- Lazarus Long  |
|     WA1ZBR    | husband, dad. (Order varies.)   | (R. A. Heinlein) |
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