Blocking Consensus
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2002 14:46:01 -0700 (MST)
RoseWind used "On Conflict and Consensus" as our guidebook for consensus 
process. The way blocking is defined therein could be potentially 
controversial. We've never come right up against it, but it is something 
to contemplate.

I quote, "A blocking concern must be based on a generally recognized 
principle, not personal preference, or it must to essential to the entire 
group's well-being. Before a concern is considered to be blocking, the 
group must have already accepted the validity of the concern and a 
reasonable attempt must have been made to resolve it. If legitimate 
concerns remain unresolved, and the person has not agreed to stand aside, 
consensus is blocked."

My  unease comes with the necessarily subjective component of what is 
principle vs what is preference? Samantha opposes adopting the annual 
assessment budget because "that's just too much". If she wouldn't be 
satisfied by an arrangement to meet her personal financial constraints, 
for example, but holds that Cohousing shouldn't Cost $100 a month, well 
she might think that's a principle. Maybe  not the best example, but you 
can think of others. We usually claim that our "preference" (at least one 
strong enough to brave the peer pressure of bucking consensus) stems from 
some principles. 

And then there are items which are clearly based on principles, but not 
necessarily principles espoused by the group as a whole. You see where 
this gets murky. If the group gets to implicitly vote on whether my 
disagreement is "just" preference, am I being held, in Quaker consensus 
fashion, to really hold "a piece of the truth"? If I'm a lone dissenter, 
isn't it pretty likely that the others will not validate my dissent? 

 What do you think about this as a useful way to define "acceptable" 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature)

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