RE: Making changes in our decisions
From: sbraun (sbraungmavt.net)
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 12:01:03 -0600 (MDT)
Hi David,

We received the same advice about past decisions, and we didn't follow
it. We are very glad we didn't.

In our group it is always possible to reopen a decision. One person can
do so by bringing a proposal that essentially negates the first
decision. For example, if the group decided not to include offices in
the design of our attached housing, then anybody could come to the next
meeting and propose that we do include offices.

This policy makes it possible for members to relax about consenting to a
decision. We know that going along with something now doesn't mean we
have to go along with it two weeks from now. It's really easy,
therefore, to give things a try. The stakes are lower.

The other advantage to doing it this way is that you don't have to wait
for everybody to get to a meeting to make important decisions. For
example, three of us in our executive committee made an important
decision last week, and we felt reasonably comfortable doing so because
the other three members could easily propose the opposite at our next
meeting.

We haven't found it to be the slightest problem that our decisions are
so easily re-examined. What's the harm in taking another look at a
decision? It can only serve to improve it or confirm it, or even to get
rid of it if it was a bad one to begin with. Yes, it can take time, but
the reality is that it hardly ever does. People aren't that rude. And
even if a proposal does come up again and again, it takes about 3
minutes for the group to say to the person bringing it forward again,
"No, actually, we don't want to change our minds because of this reason
and that reason." The person bringing up the change is usually
satisfied, and perhaps this was the only way they could have been.

Sheila Braun
Project Coordinator
Champlain Valley Cohousing
773 Greenbush Road
Charlotte, VT 05445
(802) 425-5030



>
>
>Hello,
>
>       I am looking for information on your experiences in changing
>previously-made decisions.  We have a rule that to change a past
>decision, 75% of the equity households first need to agree to
reconsider
>it, after which the normal consensus rules apply.  We were urged early
on
>in our history to adopt this so that an item such as a pet policy could
>not be easily and often changed just because one or several
>households in the community wanted to change it.  Recently, however, we
>had a proposal to change the time of our general meeting, and some
people
>claimed we needed to get 75% of the membership to agree to reconsider
the
>decision first.  Eventually, though, we all agreed that changing a
meeting
>time was a routine administrative issue for which doing a
reconsideration
>vote was an unnecessary piece of bureaucracy, and we went ahead with a
>direct proposal.
>
>       The question I have is twofold:
>
>       1) What procedures do you have for changing past decisions?  Do
>you simply pass a proposal for the change, or do you have to pass a
motion
>to reconsider first, or do you have some other process?
>
>       2) If you have special procedures for changing past decisions,
>when do you use them?  I presume that one wouldn't use them to change a
>routine, administrative, or small-scale decision, but would use them to
>change material decisions.  I also presume that changing the date/time
of
>the general meeting would be routine, while changing the pet policy
would
>be significant.  But what about ones that are "in between", like
changing
>the provision/reimbursement of childcare at general meetings, or
>adding/changing/eliminating committees?  Are they "significant" or
>"routine"?  Are they "material" or "administrative"?  Are my
presumptions
>correct?
>
>
>       Thank you very much for your help and information.
>
>Regards,
>David Heimann
>Jamaica Plain Cohousing
>
>
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